“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling” (I Peter 4:9).
In anticipation of Jesus Christ’s soon return (I Peter 4:7), God commands believers to be self-controlled and sober-minded by loving one another. He also calls self-controlled and sober-minded believers to show hospitality.
God encourages believers to be people of hospitality (φιλόξενος; philozenos). The root of this multi-syllable word is “philo” from the Greek word for friendship or brotherly love. Within this context, it means a friendliness to strangers, visitors or guests.
Within the ancient world, there were no Holiday Inn’s. Lodging for travelers could often be found in people’s homes. This is the context for Jesus’ parable about persistent prayer in Luke 11:5-13. As one pastor writes that, “Hospitality was receiving others, especially taking in travelers of the same faith who needed a place to stay. As generally in the ethical ideals of antiquity, lodging and provisions were to be provided generously, not grudgingly.”
Peter is saying that believers are to show generous hospitality to one another. My wife and I have had the occasion to entertain and house overnight several guests through the years. Many times, these were musicians or guest pastors visiting our church. We had the opportunity and the space in our home to do so. We have also done so with my mother-in-law who lived with us due to her ill health.
However, Peter is not just addressing the demonstration of right behavior, but also the demonstration of a right attitude. Showing hospitality should not be done so with grumbling. Grumbling (γογγυσμός; gongysmos) is literally behind-the-scenes talk. It is conversation with oneself, of with another person, in order to complain about showing hospitality to another person. It would be like me complaining about having my mother-in-law live in our home. This type of behavior does not glorify God.
Complaining spoils hospitality. Well, someone may say “I won’t show hospitality. I won’t have people in my home. Therefore, I won’t complain about it then.” That is not the answer. Jesus encouraged the entertainment of strangers or guests (Matt. 25:35). Then and now, hospitality makes mission work possible (3 John 5).
If the Lord has blessed you with a home in which you may house and entertain fellow believers you do not know, take the opportunity to do so. But remember to do so without complaining. Now, if the guest does something inappropriate, that issue must be graciously addressed. However, for the most part, that will not happen.
Have a blessed day and ask God to prepare your heart to be hospitable.
Soli deo Gloria!