Author: David Wilber
When the New Testament authors talk about Abraham, they always highlight his faith. Indeed, Abraham is most well known, both in Judaism and Christianity, for his great faith in the God of Israel. But Abraham also exhibited another important godly characteristic that is often overlooked: hospitality.
When Abraham was visited by the Lord in the form of three guests in Genesis 18:1-7, he rushed to show the guests kindness and hospitality. The Scriptures say that he “ran from the tent door to meet them,” insisted that they rest and their feet be washed, and he dashed to prepare a meal for them. You can sense the urgency in Abraham’s attitude and behavior. He truly wanted his guests to feel welcomed and cared for.
Hospitality was a big deal in the ancient near east, and a person’s treatment of travelers spoke volumes about their character. Thus, it’s no wonder that Moses goes into detail about the quality of Abraham’s hospitality toward his guests. Dr. Weston Fields, author and Dead Sea Scrolls expert, notes the following:
This real-life societal responsibility to provide lodging and sustenance for travelers, in fact to turn strangers into guests, was so important that whenever “visitors” appear in a story, the narrator will often give an account, sometimes in detail, sometimes briefly, of their treatment at the hands of their hosts.
In addition to looking to Abraham as a man of great faith, we should look to him as a role model for how we ought to be hospitable toward others. Hospitality is an expression of loving our neighbor, which is the second greatest commandment according to our Messiah. Indeed, if we are Abraham’s children by faith, we ought to do the works of Abraham (John 8:39). Furthermore, it is believed that the author of Hebrews used this passage from Genesis as the basis for his teaching about hospitality:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
What if we as believers still valued hospitality to the degree that Abraham did? Can you imagine the impact that the body of Messiah would have on this hurting world that so desperately needs a touch from God?
We are called to be a light to the world, and one way we can shine Messiah’s light is through hospitality. Indeed, the littlest things often have the biggest impact. Simple acts of kindness go a long way in bringing healing to those around you. And often it’s through simple acts of kindness that people feel comfortable about opening up about their pain and struggles, making room for the Holy Spirit to use you to minister to them.
Being used by God to bring healing to hurting people—isn’t that what it’s all about? God desires to use us to help people experience His love. It all starts through simple acts of kindness.
So how often do you invite people over for Erev Shabbat? How often do you look for ways to serve people? How often do you put in extra effort to make people feel loved and valued? How often do you hug your friends and listen to their stories? How often do you text or call people to let them know that you’re thinking about them and care for them? I think it’s safe to assume that we as Christians don’t do this enough. We’ve allowed our self-centered culture to influence our attitude in the Church. It’s time that we get back to valuing the godly characteristic of hospitality. If we are children of Abraham by faith, we ought to do the works of Abraham.
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