Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:9 (NASB)
The Apostle Peter provides a great challenge when he writes that Christ followers should show hospitality to one another without complaint. It is important to understand that hospitality is more than inviting people over and entertaining lots of guest in your home. It's much more than being ready, willing, and able to make a meal for someone at a moment's notice. Those things are very helpful and often a great blessing. But the heart of hospitality goes much deeper.
As you may recall the Greek word for "hospitality" is philoxenos, means "loving strangers". It's about much more than having your friends over for dinner and pulling out your best china. Those things are great things to do, but hospitality is an openness that welcomes strangers into your house. That's something many of us are not that willing to do. In fact we may complain if someone suggest that we have total strangers in our homes. Tied to the "one another" in this verse implies it would specifically mean to love fellow believers whom you do not yet know. To meet the needs of fellow believers who are total strangers to you. That’s the true intent behind this passage.
The Greek word Peter uses for “complaint” simply means to complain or grumble. Literally it means murmuring. Peter has in mind the person that has a hard time of letting issues go. You keep saying the same thing over and over again. Murmuring under your breath with the action of grumbling. Resenting the fact that you are being put out. Because of the need of someone else your day has been interrupted or disturbed. You may even think you're being taken advantage of. Some common questions for someone in this position are: Why can't someone else deal with this? How come they keep asking me for help? Haven't I already done enough?
I think one of the reasons under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Peter writes that these persecuted believers show hospitality without grumbling is because humanity is prone to complain. It will take a changed heart. A heart transformed by the grace of God will walk the path of serving those in need. This should be an entry level attitude that Christians should process. A person that has difficulty serving those in need has not fully grasped God’s grace in their own life.
John MacArthur gives the following insights:
Persecution, poverty, orphans, widows, and traveling Christians made hospitality essential in New Testament times. They had no hotels or motels, and the inns were notoriously evil. Often they were brothels, or places where travelers were robbed or beaten. . . . The door of the Christian home, as well as the heart of the Christian family, ought to be open to all who come in need."
You do not need a big house and lots of money to be hospitable. All you need is a heart that has been made tender under the transformative power of the Gospel. A transformed heart is open to recognize the grace of God and in return becomes an extension of His grace to those in need.
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