Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.—Romans 12:13
This verse echoes so many others in the Bible that can be summarized by John 13:35, which says, “they will know you [the disciples of Christ] by the love you bear one another.”
We are to love others as we love ourselves, and this is especially true of those who are of the household of faith. Believers should look out for other believers—caring for the elderly, looking out for the collective young, and giving provision to meet needs.
The “practice hospitality” part is speaking particularly of those whom we haven’t met. We are to show grace and love to strangers, and, again, especially to strangers of the household of faith.
Why? Again with John 13:35—“they will know you by the love you bear one another.” The execution of our love of “family” points to our Father above, just as the behavior of well-mannered children points to their parents. The extravagance of our love for other believers—even ones we may not look like or be like us, aside from the faith that drives us—points to a supernatural impetus for such love. Our love for one another is perhaps our single greatest witness for Christ—which is why Christian squabbles and church splits are such grievous affronts to our faith.
I’m delighted that we get to share our house with some visitors who needed a place to stay this coming weekend. I’m glad we will get to share some food and some free movie tickets with them. And I’m even more excited for the fact that they share the faith with us—a thing which unites us deeply and eternally—and that they will get to tell others where they are staying and use this as a witness as to who Christ is.
But now the challenge is, from now to this weekend, how can I find ways to share with others in need? How can I practice hospitality? How can I make less of my life like this weekend will be—a highlight of obedience or check-mark for the month—and more of an everyday occurrence, a simple way of life?
Well, the first step is to have a heart bent toward the will of God, and hence bent toward those around me. That heart is accomplished through prayer and the Word.
The second step is to keep my eyes and ears open, constantly aware of others and their needs—spoken and unspoken.
And then comes the action. Replacing the passivity of my love—“I really feel for them” or “I think they might be in need”—with a messy, draining, exhilarating verb-love that hugs and holds and feeds and clothes and prays and acts, over and over and over again.
It is a tough task, so I’ll start with step one now, and just have to see where I end up. I hope you’ll join me in that.