“Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:13

It is always nice to get clear instructions.  This two-word direction is about as short as an instruction can be – one verb, one noun.  But then I guess the complexity of the instructions are largely dependent on the meaning given to the noun – hospitality.  In common parlance we seem to have narrowed the use and meaning of “hospitality” to a transactional context, as in the “hospitality business” or “hospitality industry.”  Hospitality seems most commonly to be thought of as something that is expected on payment for it to a hotel or some other business entity providing services for a fee.

The biblical meaning of “hospitality” seems much broader.  In the Romans passage, the instruction comes as a summary of the paragraph above it (in a section captioned “Love” in my Bible) that includes admonitions about love (Love must be sincere.” v. 9), hate, honor, zeal, joy, hope, patience, and sharing (Romans 12:9-13), and thus the suggestion is that hospitality invokes all of those things.  There is no mention of a precondition of money changing hands.  The usage of the word in 1 Peter 9 is similar — “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” — as is the context.  That usage (in a section captioned “Living for God” is preceded by a notation about  love — “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” v. 8

Okay, I suppose there is supposed to be some point to this meandering.  But I am not sure I can do better than the source.  Practice hospitality without precondition, without grumbling, and don’t hold your hand out for the tip.


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