I was reading in 1 Peter today and read this verse in 1 Peter 4:9, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Let’s see how our definition of hospitality compares with Peter’s intent.
In the ancient setting this hospitality could have meant to show kindness to strangers who were in need as they traveled. It seems that much of the ancient nomadic culture was based upon the hope that people would share food and offer a place of rest for traveling strangers.
As I looked at the word I can’t help but see the word hospital. We all know what that is. It is a place for the hurting to find care, relief and recovery. Peter says that Christians ought to be hospitable people.
Finally, as I think about this sentence I see the phrase “one another”. It seems that Peter may have strangers in mind, but he is also thinking more specifically. As he is writing this letter, Christians are headed toward intense persecution.
Because of the persecution some of them will lose possessions and homes. If this is the case then Peter is calling on the other Christians to be generous in sharing with those who have been persecuted.
Because of the persecution some of them will lose family members to imprisonment or even martyrdom. The call for hospitality in those cases will be even more serious.
I wonder if we would be willing to share even when we know it will bring us great inconvenience. Would we be willing to sacrifice on a long-term basis to meet the needs of others? Would we sacrifice our privacy in order to allow another follower of Jesus to live with us when they have lost a family member or home? I fear that in our modern church the term hospitality makes us think of a cookout or game night. While it is good to gather in this way, the New Testament has a much deeper and more sacrificial view of hospitality.
Christian, hear Peter’s call to sacrificially care for someone that is hurting without grumbling. It is service for the sake of the Gospel.