Hospitality for all kinds of people
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.’—(Hebrews 13:2 ESV)
Have you ever met an angel? I don’t think I’ve had one to tea in my house… yet.
But whether or not you’ve ever had an angel in your home eating roast beef and potatoes, perhaps one lesson from this verse is that the most unexpected people may turn out to be angelic.
Admittedly there isn’t likely to be an angel heavily disguised as a difficult guest, but the application remains: we ought to treat people without partiality. After all, they may turn out to be from heaven itself!
We all know people whose company is a pleasure. Their conversation is entertaining; their manners are delightful; they are thoughtful and humorous; they fit in anywhere. Offering hospitality to them is easy; the whole evening will go like a dream.
The bad and the ugly
But there are those others… the ones who are awkward and discouraging; with whom conversing is like pulling teeth; the people you dread seeing on a table plan seated right next to you. And that’s just so-and-so from your church!
What about friends and neighbours who aren’t Christians?
Who might not use the right language?
Or understand that you give thanks to God for food before you eat?
What about them? Are they worthy of your hospitality?
Well, the thing about impartiality is that it doesn’t allow you to exclude difficult people, or folk of different or no religion. They need Christian influence, kindness, godly example, encouragement… as much as, if not more than, others. And those who aren’t saved certainly need the gospel!
If things go wrong as they sometimes will…
If you offer hospitality often enough, and without partiality, there will be times when things don’t go to plan. There might be times when, even if they do go to plan, you have a most discouraging guest who is definitely not an angel!
Don’t give up when things go wrong! You never know the influence for eternal good that you might have on even the most troublesome guest… or what blessing an unexpected visitor might be to you.
And, keep ‘the long view’ that I came across in this antiquated poem. You might need to create some modern updates in your mind as you read it, but you can apply it to the nitty-gritty of hospitality:
The Long View
Some day of days! Some dawning yet to be
I shall be clothed with immortality!
And, in that day, I shall not greatly care
That Jane spilt candle grease upon the stair.
It will not grieve me then, as once it did,
That careless hands have chipped my teapot lid.
That needs were often great, when means were small,
Will not perplex me any more at all.
A few short years at most (it may be less),
I shall have done with earthly storm and stress.
So, for this day, I lay me at Thy feet.
O, keep me sweet, my Master! Keep me sweet!
—[From ‘THE VERSE-BOOK OF A HOMELY WOMAN’ by Fay Inchfawn]