Hospitality and the Lost

12.1.23 Devo Image

“For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”—Acts 13:47 (NIV)

A practice that’s not usually very common in the U.S. is inviting strangers to your home for a meal. In certain cultures, this is actually a very common behavior. A professor of mine once shared that his time doing mission work in the Middle East was marked by this kind of sincere hospitality. He’d usually make friends with locals and get invited over for a meal later that week or even that day! There’s something so beautiful about the hospitality of a benevolent stranger. We even see this exemplified throughout Scripture and in the life of Jesus who both offered and received hospitality to and from strangers or outcasts.

Luke 15:1–2 (NIV) says, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’” Jesus had a reputation for hanging out with the lost. The Jewish religious figures of the day simply couldn’t understand how Jesus, someone who took on a religious role in the community and had gained a big following, would associate Himself with those who didn’t actually know or follow God in the way they did. Their hearts were hardened by their spiritual pride and their eyes were blinded by their selfishness. They only cared about their reputation and facade of “holiness” rather than God’s actual commands.

Throughout Scripture, God encourages His people to look out for the lost and the broken. An example of this is seen in Isaiah 61:1 (NIV): “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” The Pharisees often overlooked God’s heart by focusing on the status their religious behavior gave them.

In the chapter right before, we see Jesus join a Pharisee at his house for a meal. Despite their spiritual arrogance, Jesus still engaged with them because they were lost as well, just in a different way. While there, He speaks directly on the subject of inviting people in. In Luke 14:13–14 (NIV), Jesus says, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Although it might be more difficult in our culture to work out the hospitality muscle, it’s important because we see Jesus model it for us as a way to love the lost. Hospitality is not reserved for friends and family, it’s actually most appreciated and useful when expressed towards strangers and those who we may not typically spend time with. Just like Jesus, we need to make inviting the lost into our lives a regular practice and habit. It doesn’t always mean inviting people to our actual homes for a meal, although that certainly is possible and encouraged, but it certainly means opening your heart and being generous with your time so you can intentionally love the lost around you! Instead of focusing on seeing others receive salvation, make that your hope and prayer, but let your focus be on simply obeying God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t pass up an opportunity to invite the lost into your life and love them!

Pause: Think about who might be in your life already who is lost and not following Jesus. How can you be more intentional with them?

Practice: Today, try starting a conversation with a stranger at the store, your job, or a coffee shop. You can also try inviting someone you know that is not following Jesus over for a meal. Ask God to help you share His light and love through your actions with someone who might not be following Him. Remember, there is no pressure to see people get saved. The goal is simply to obey God’s command of loving others.

Pray: Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us what it looks like to both show and receive hospitality! You did not discriminate in the people You chose to eat with and spend time with. You loved others while not compromising who You were or what You knew to be true. Help me to practice that as well! I want to love the lost and spend time with them while also remaining true to You and Your Word. Help me to do this more actively today and for this season as I seek to build up this muscle of engaging with and loving the lost for Your glory! Amen.

About the Author

Samantha Rodriguez

Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.