During a recent vacation, my wife and I visited a famous athletic complex. The gates were wide open, and it appeared that we were welcome to visit. We enjoyed touring the grounds and admiring the well-manicured sports fields. As we were about to leave, someone stopped us and coldly told us we were not supposed to be there. Suddenly, we were reminded that we were outsiders—and it felt uncomfortable.
On that vacation we also visited a church. Again, the doors were open, so we walked in. What a difference! Many people greeted us warmly and made us feel right at home. We walked out of that church service knowing we were welcomed and accepted.
Sadly, it isn’t uncommon for outsiders to receive the unspoken message “you’re not supposed to be here” when they visit a church. But Scripture calls us to be hospitable to all. Jesus said we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, which surely means welcoming them into our lives and our churches (Matthew 22:39). In Hebrews, we’re reminded to “show hospitality to strangers” (13:2). Both Luke and Paul instruct us to show active love to people with social and physical needs (Luke 14:13–14; Romans 12:13). And among the body of believers, we have a special responsibility to show love (Galatians 6:10).
When we welcome all people openly and with Christlike love, we reflect our Savior’s love and compassion.
Lord, open our hearts to all people who enter our lives—showing them Christlike love and godly hospitality. Help us to make everyone we meet feel the warm welcome of Jesus’s love.
When we practice hospitality, we share God’s goodness.
When Hebrews 13:1–3 encourages believers to treat others with love, it does so after reminding believers of their rock-solid foundation for security. If there was ever anyone we might think would make us feel threatened or ashamed, it would be our infinitely holy and powerful God. But the good news is that because of Christ’s cleansing work, believers need not tremble in fear before God’s holiness (12:18–21). Instead, we can fearlessly celebrate a life of joyful awe and worship in His kingdom and in fellowship with His people (vv. 22–24, 28).
Knowing security in God’s love, knowing He will never abandon us (13:5–6), means we can stop relating to others in fear. Instead, we can love and care for fellow believers as our brothers and sisters in Christ (vv. 1, 3). And we can extend our arms to invite everyone we can into God’s family of grace (v. 2).