HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON (part 5) by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson
This is our last message in our mini series from the Book of Romans titled – HOW TO BEHAVE THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON. Many of you shared with me how much you appreciated the past 4 messages, especially during Christmas – a time of stress, frustration, and discouragement. I don’t think Paul had Christmas in mind when he penned these words but they definitely fit.
Romans 12:9-13 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Overall Background: We come to the last line of that section – 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. This passage is about “How to Have the Right Spirit of Hospitality.” The word “hospitality” has a very strange history. It is connected to the Latin words hospes, from which we get words like “hospice” and “hospital” and hostis, from which we get the word “host” – the owner of the house. Amazingly, it is also connected with words like hostile – which could mean a stranger or enemy or army. That’s why you hear about the “Lord of hosts” = “Lord of Angelic Armies.” That’s why you also hear about the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Bottom Line: The word hospitality has a good and bad connotation in the past.
Why did I bring all that up? Because hospitality can be good and bad. If it’s good, it can be a refuge for the guests, the weary and worn in our homes and church. If it’s bad, it can be hostile and feel like the “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
This morning, we will look at hospitality from the Bible as it applies in the context of our homes and our church? This is a very essential message. 3 things we will see here.
I. HOSPITALITY IS A CHRISTIAN GRACE.
given to hospitality. Meaning: By nature we are hospitable to all.
Background: Ancient cultures were big on showing hospitality to each other but it was a different story when it came to a stranger or an enemy. In Viking culture – if you happened to be in a friendly territory, you would get food, shelter, and protection. But if you didn’t know them well, watch your back. In Arab history, the greeting Salam (peace) had to be responded quickly with “peace back to you.” Meaning: “We’re good. Don’t wanna fight.” Live and let live. Not much hospitality there.
Here’s a glimpse of what most cultures were like – Romans 1:29-31 (As I read this section, imagine if you had to visit or stay overnight with people like this.) 29“being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful.” They had no sense of hospitality. If I had to stay with someone like this, I would not blink all night. You never know when they would stab you in your sleep.
Contrary to this what did Christianity say? Hebrews 13:2-3 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Remember in the Old Testament when God came with two angels to visit Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 18 tells us that “when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, 3 and said, “My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. 4 Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5 And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.” They said, “Do as you have said.” 6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.” 7 And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, gave it to a young man, and he hastened to prepare it. 8 So he took butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate.”
After that, those angels went down to Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19 tells us that even though Lot treated them with hospitality, before they could lay down, “the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” They wanted to sexually rape them. That’s where we get the word “sodomy.” While Lot pleaded with them, they even tried to break down the doors.
Godly person cannot help but be hospitable to all. Sadly, the further we get from Christianity in our culture, the less we are hospitable. We become hostile. Sadly, the same attitude has come in among Christians.
For e.g. Growing up we constantly had missionaries in our home from America, Sweden, Germany, England, and Philippines. We had an American missionary who ate with us for over 10 years, almost every day for lunch. He would read to me and talk to me.
For e.g. Nowadays, its like the commercial – someone says “Dinner time!” and everybody runs to the van.
Someone might say – “Its easy to clean up.” It’s not about the work or the food. It’s about drawing close to one another.
We need to have this spirit of hospitality. The early church was known for their hospitality. Acts 2:46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Hospitality had a part to play in the growth of the church.
Application: Do you open the doors of your home to others? Do you participate in the hospitality at church?
II. HOSPITALITY HAS TO BE GUARDED.
Listen to how Paul brings up the subject – distributing to the needs of the saints
He refers to others as saints – not sinners or burdens or headaches. Meaning: It’s a privilege to serve others.
Hospitality can very easily go from serving others to cooking food. We can go from ministering to each other to getting it done and cleaned up as quickly as possible.
Did you know that the first church conflict took place over food? Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
Later on it happened again in the church in Corinth at the Love Feast – I Corinthians 11:20-22 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
Most church conflicts don’t happen over doctrine and theology but food. It’s the debased mind getting into the church. Don’t be jumping in front of each other. Don’t bring your bad attitude in church.
For e.g. Like the guy who is having a lunch break with his buddy and opens up his lunch pail and bites into the sandwich. “Oh no! A baloney sandwich! Again! Everyday I get a baloney sandwich! I hate it!” His friend says – “Relax, take it easy. Just tell your wife tonight not to do that.” He replies – “Leave my wife out of it! I make my own sandwiches…”
Application: How do you see each other? At home and church. Do you see the other person as a saint or as a burden?
III. HOSPITALITY IS ULTIMATELY UNTO GOD.
Do you remember what it says just 2 verses earlier in verse 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
When we take our eyes off the Lord, we can miss the blessing in hospitality.
In Luke 7, Jesus was invited to the home of Simon the Pharisee. This was the same place where the woman came with thealabaster flask and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then, she proceeded to anoint his feet with fragrant oil. When Simon questioned Jesus’s integrity, Jesus responded to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
Contrast this with Luke 19, Jesus came to the place where Zacchaeus was in the sycamore tree and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” How did he respond? “So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” What was the result? 8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
What a difference! Simon had Jesus as a guest but he missed the blessing. Zacchaeus had Jesus as a guest andhe shared in the blessing.
The first question – Is Jesus welcome in your life?
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
William Holman Hunt painted “The Light of the World” with no handles on the outside to represent the “obstinately shut mind.”