Most people in Bible times recognized that they had a responsibility to practise hospitality. The custom was to welcome both friends and strangers and to give them food, water and other provisions to make them comfortable (Gen 18:1-8; 24:32; Exod 2:20; Deut 10:18-19; 23:4; Judg 13:15; 19:16-21; 2 Kings 4:8; Job 31:32; Luke 7:44-45; Acts 9:43; 16:15). A mark of special honour was to wash the guest’s feet or to anoint the head with oil (Ps 23:5; Luke 7:37-38,44-46). Hosts were responsible to protect all those who stayed with them (Gen 19:1-11; Judg 19:22-23). God’s people must be ready always to practise hospitality to those in need, whether close friends or people they have never seen before. And they must do so without expecting anything in return.

Those who fail in this matter are in danger of God’s chastisement (Isa 58:7; Matt 25:31-46; Luke 14:12-14; Rom 12:13; Gal 6:10; Heb 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Church leaders in particular should be an example to the rest of the church by their hospitality (1 Tim 3:2; 3 John 5-6). If Christians have not practised generous hospitality to others, they are in no position to call upon the church for financial support when they themselves are in need (1 Tim 5:9-10). Christians have a special duty to give hospitality to travelling preachers and teachers of God’s Word (Rom 16:23; 1 Cor 9:4-5; Titus 3:13-14; Philem 22; 3 John 5-8). They should give no hospitality at all to those who are false teachers (2 John 9-11).

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