"Given to Hospitality" by Pastor Steven L Anderson


February 23, 2014

These are qualifications that are met, not by a pastor, but by someone who will someday be a pastor. You know, when you're in the pew, you meet these qualifications, then you can become a pastor or become a deacon. That's why later in the chapter it says, "And let these also first be proved, then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." These are attributes that we should all have in our Christian life but they're definitely a minimum qualification for a bishop or a deacon as well.

Tonight, I want to focus in on one of the qualifications in verse 2 where the Bible says, "And then a bishop must then be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach." Tonight, I want to talk about that aspect of being given to hospitality. What does that mean? Given to hospitality. Well, let's look at a few other scriptures tonight that use the term hospitality.

Let's start in Romans chapter 12. This term is used four times in the New Testament, hospitality. It's used of course here in 1 Timothy 3 and then when the qualifications of an elder are given again in Titus chapter 1, it also mentions being given to hospitality over there. We're going to come back to that passage later. Right now, look at Romans chapter 12 verse 13. In Romans 12, it's coupled with something else in the same verse that sheds a little bit of light what is meant by given to hospitality. Look at Romans 12 verse 13. It says, "Distributing to the necessity of saints, given to hospitality." It's mentioned in the same breath with distributing to the necessity of the saints or being generous.

Now, if you think about just what you think of when you hear the word hospitality, just in 2014 America and someone says hospitality. What do you think of? Do you think of basically having someone over at your house and feeding them a meal? Maybe if you're invited over to someone's house and you eat with them and they serve you a lot of food and they take care of your physical needs, then you would say, "Thank you for the hospitality." Here, that goes with distributing to the necessity of saints, being generous, giving of what you have, giving of your food and sharing a meal with someone.

Turn to 1 Peter chapter 4. I'm going to show you the fourth place that hospitality is used in the New Testament. While you're turning there, let me read you another scripture from 1 John 3. In verse 16 it says, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue but in deed and in truth." The Bible's commanding us in 1 John 3 that when we see someone who is a brother in Christ who has a physical need, if we're able to meet that need, we should meet that need. We should be ready to distribute to the necessity of the saints and not be greedy and selfish and hoard our possessions and our food to ourselves and we don't want to share with anyone. That's what the Bible's teaching here.

Now, in 1 Peter 4 verse 8, it says, "And above all things, have fervent charity among yourselves. For charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

Now, we look at these three verses together, it starts out in verse 8 talking about charity. Charity comes from the same root word as our word caring. Charity, caring. It's when you care about somebody. It's when you love them. That's what charity means. When we think of charity, we think of giving to the poor or helping those that are in need. That should come from a heart of love and caring about others and not just caring about ourselves. He says, "Have fervent charity among yourselves."

In verse 9, he says, "Use hospitality one to another without grudging." What does that mean? That means that I would be willing to share a meal with someone, buy a meal for someone, share my possessions with someone, without grudging, meaning that I would be a cheerful giver. The Bible says, "Not by constraint, but willingly." He says, "Not of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver." You know, I could share a meal with someone and grumble about it in my heart and not really want to and have a bad attitude about it. That would be grudgingly, grudgingly using charity. "I guess you can come over. I guess you can have the other half of my sandwich. Whatever." God wants us to use hospitality one to another without grudging.

Go to Hebrews chapter 13. Hebrews chapter 13. I'm going to show a scripture that I believe strongly ties in with hospitality. So far, what we've learned as we looked at hospitality is that it has to do with distributing to the necessity of the saints. It has to do with giving. Right after he mentioned hospitality in 1 Peter 4:9, he said, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." This is like when Jesus told his disciples, "Freely you have received, freely give." If God has blessed us with material goods, if we have this world's good and we see our brother have need, we should not shut up our bowels of compassion. We should have fervent charity and we should be willing to share and give and not grudgingly, but cheerfully use hospitality one to another.

Generosity is what we're talking about. We're talking about being willing to take care of others, feed others and entertain others. Look at Hebrews chapter 13 verse 1. It says, "Let brotherly love continue." Notice, these things are always going together. Love, charity, generosity, hospitality. It says in verse 2, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." What's the Bible teaching us here? That we should be willing to share a meal with someone, to take care of someone, to help out someone, someone who's a traveler, someone who's a stranger, someone who's new to church or new to town, people that we don't know very well, people that may not do anything for us in return. We should be generous, we should want to share a meal with them, we should want to help them out in any way that we possibly can. Hospitality. It also comes from the word house, like having someone over at your house or taking care of someone.

Now, let's go to some Old Testament examples of this because we see in Hebrews 13:2, it says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." If we go back to the Old Testament and look at the stories about people who entertained angels unawares, we'll see that they were using hospitality. They were being hospitable to those people. Great men of God, throughout the Bible, were hospitable men. That's one of the things that God says should characterize a man who's going to pastor. He would be hospitable.

Go to Judges chapter 6. Let's look at this example. Paul, in Hebrews 13, is not just saying, "Some have entertained angels unawares." He's not just kind of throwing that out there. He's actually referring to specific Old Testament stories. There are actually many stories like this. I've just got four that I want to show you. There are more than that, but I want to show you four passages in the Old Testament where people entertained angels unawares, meaning that they took in a stranger, fed a stranger, were hospitable unto a stranger, and it turned out that it was an angel of the Lord, it was not just a normal person. It was actually an angel that had been sent from God. They unknowingly treated that person well and took care of that person.

That's important because think about it. God sending an angel to speak unto you and you treat them bad, you might not get the message. I mean, these guys treated them well without knowing that they were important ambassadors from God. They just treated them well because they were just that type of person that was just a person that was given to hospitality.

Look if you would at Judges chapter 6 verse 11. This is the story of Gideon. It says in verse 11, "There came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite and his son Gideon, threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, 'The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.'" At this point, we know this is the angel of the Lord that says unto him, "The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor." But later on in the passage, if you jump down to verse 22, for example, it says, "And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, 'Alas, O Lord God, for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face-to-face.'"

Look, he doesn't know that it's an angel until when? Verse 22. You see that? In verse 22, he perceived it was an angel. Before that, he thinks this is just an ordinary guy talking to him. You see, when angels appeared in the Old Testament unto men, they didn't come wearing wings and a halo and floating down. They came looking like a normal human being. They came in the form of man. When you looked upon them, you assumed that they were men. In all four of these stories I'm going to show you, the angels that come and see them are just men by appearance. They're actually being sent from God.

In fact, if you go to, don't turn there, but in Revelation when John is being shown all the future events that he sees and he's taken up into Heaven and shown things, he falls down and worships at the feet of the angel that showed him these things twice. Both times, the angel says, "See thou do it not. For I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren the prophets and of them which keep the sayings of this book." He says, "Worship God." He tells him, "Don't worship me. I am a man. I am a human being. I am one of the prophets."

What we see is that men in the past who have been prophets or men of God can later act in the capacity of being an angel. The word angel just simply means messenger. It's not always going to be the cherubims and the seraphims with the wings and everything. I mean, those do exist, of course. The angels that are the cherubims with the four wings and the seraphims with the six wings. I mean, those do exist but those beings, those nonhuman beings, are separate form when the Bible sometimes sends an angel and it's actually a man. That's what we see here, that these are angels sent from God. Basically, these are men who have already lived and died and gone to be with the Lord. That's what we saw in Revelation, crystal clear. I mean, the guy who was showing John around is a human being. He's being called an angel just because he's acting in that capacity because he's a messenger of the Lord. Even in Revelation 2 and 3, unto the angel of the church of Ephesus, what are we talking about? A guy with wings and a halo? No. I just want to touch on that.

This guy comes up to Gideon and he just looks like a man. Later, he realizes it was an angel. What does it say in verse 12? It says, "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, 'The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.' And Gideon said unto him, 'Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? But now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.'" They go back and forth and of course, he tells Gideon what he's going to do.

Jump down to verse 18. It says, "Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee." And he said, "I will tarry until thou come again." At this point, he doesn't yet know it's an angel of the Lord. He probably just thinks he's just a prophet, just a preacher, just a man of God who's just coming through, trying to encourage him in the Lord, telling him he's a mighty man of valor, trying to motivate him to want to judge the people and lead them out of the bondage that they're in to the Midianites. Look what he says. He says, "I want to bring you a present." He says to this stranger, to this man who has come and spoken the word of God to him, he says, "I want to give you a present." Then, in verse 19, it says, "Gideon went in and made ready a kid." A kid is what? A kind of animal. A goat. He makes a kid.

By the way, did you know that goat meat is the number one most commonly eaten meat in the entire world? More pounds of goat meat are consumed. It doesn't seem like it because we in America, I mean I've never even had it. Has anyone ever had it? Yeah, I've never even had it. Honestly, even though we don't eat it in America, goat meat is the most commonly eaten meat on this planet. All over Asia and Africa, it's really common and there are so many billions of people over there and they eat goat meat. That's just pretty common.

He goes in and he gets a kid, which is a young goat, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour, the flesh he put in a basket and he put the broth in a pot and brought it out unto him under the oak and presented it. What is he doing? He's feeding the stranger. This guy's passing through, he makes him a meal.

You say, "Why unleavened cakes?" Because he's a man. He doesn't know how to cook. If I were going to make cakes, you were going to make cakes, would you know how to leaven it? I mean, what man in this room knows how to make bread rise with leaven? A couple. All right. I'm saying most men don't know how to do that kind of cooking. Who doesn't know how to do it? There you go. The ladies know how to do it or at least a lot of them do. If we're making a cake, it's going to be a pancake. I mean, that's the cake that we're going to make because we don't know anything about leavening it. We know how to kill a goat and cook it. He makes a goat and brings him some broth and unleavened cake. This is man food.

He brings out this meal to him. Of course, he ends up not eating it because he's an angel and he's not going to eat it and so forth. That's not the point. The point is that Gideon saw a guy who's a stranger who's speaking the word of God and his instinct was, "Hey, don't leave until I can feed you. Don't leave until I can make you some food and present it to you." That's the kind of guy that Gideon was. Look at Judges chapter 13. But did he not entertain an angel unawares? He was entertaining a stranger and it turned out he was entertaining an angel unawares, just like Hebrews 13:2 said.

Here's another example. Judges 13:8. It says, "Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, 'O my Lord, let the man of God which thou did send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.'"

Now, let me give you the context here in verse 8. A man of God, that's what she thought, came to Manoah's wife and spoke things about how she's going to have a child and he prophesied unto her and she tells her husband and her husband would like to meet this man himself. He doesn't know it's an angel. He just wants to meet this man of God. He prays to the Lord that the man of God, in verse 8, would come again and talk to him.

Look at verse 9, "And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. And the woman made haste, and ran, and showed her husband, and said unto him, 'Behold, the man hath appeared unto me that came unto me the other day.'" Now, jump down to verse 15. "And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, 'I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.' And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, 'Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord.'" Watch this. "For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord." Again, he doesn't know he's an angel of the Lord. He just thinks a human being. What's his instinct? "Let me feed you. Let me make a kid of the goats. Let me serve you food."

Go to Genesis chapter 18. Genesis chapter 18. Remember, these are examples that the Bible is telling us in the New Testament to follow in Hebrews 13 when it says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers." Then, he points us to these examples. "For thereby, some have entertained angels unawares." We need to take heed unto this. If we're going to be given to hospitality, that means we would follow this type of example of what we see in the stories that Hebrews 13 is pointing us to.

It says in Genesis 18:1, "And the Lord appeared unto him," talking about Abraham, "in the plains of Mamre and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground." Now, at this point, what does Abraham see? Three men. He does not know at this point that one of them is the Lord and two of them are his angels.

Now, one of the things that's interesting about this, of course, is this is an Old Testament bodily appearance of the Lord. We know that no man has ever seen the Father and lived. I mean, even when Moses wanted to see him, he was only shown the hinder parts and his face glowed. Nobody could see God face-to-face at this point. Eventually, after the millennium, after the thousand year reign of Christ, we will see God face-to-face as far as the Father. Until then, we will not. That's a whole other sermon of itself. That the Bible teaches that very clearly. But this is obviously a pre-incarnation. I'm trying to think of a non-fancy theological ... This is a Christophany. I'm trying to think of a way ... This is basically Jesus Christ appearing in the Old Testament, is probably the best way of putting it. The reason I say that is because obviously, we know it's not God the Father and we know it's not the Holy Spirit. We know that when the Lord takes on a bodily form, it's Jesus Christ.

Here's the Lord in bodily form because he comes and speaks with Abraham. The reason I say that is because if you read this story in Genesis 18, three men walk up. As the three men walk up, Abraham uses hospitality with them and feeds them and takes care of them. The two men walk away toward Sodom and Abraham's left talking to one man and that man is called THE LORD, in all capital letters. He speaks with THE LORD. This is where he keeps grinding him down, 50 righteous, 45 righteous, et cetera. The two men walk off and in chapter 19, how does chapter 19 begin? Those two men walk into Sodom. Those are the two angels. In chapter 18, we have THE LORD and his two angels. Chapter 19, the two angels walk into Sodom.

Look what it says in verse 1. Abraham doesn't know that. He looks and just sees three men, right? It says, "And THE LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. And said, 'My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts. After that ye shall pass on. for therefore are ye come to your servant.' And they said, 'So do, as thou hast said.'"

Keep in mind Abraham is a powerful man, he's a wealthy man, he has 316 servants trained in his house. Now how many people do you know that have 316 servants? I mean, Michelle Obama doesn't even have that many. She only has 19. What I'm saying is this guy is a wealthy man, he's an important man, he's got all kinds of cattle, he's got a lot of power, he's got a lot of people working for him. Yet, look how humble he is to call this stranger ... He doesn't know who they are. It's just three men. He calls himself your servant. He says, "My Lord," which would be our equivalent of saying today, "Sir," calling them sir, being kind, wanting them to come and dine with them and take care of them and so forth.

It says, "Hey, I'm going to wash your feet. I'm going to feed you. I'm going to take care of you." Verse 6, "And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, 'Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.'" Notice how it's not unleavened when she's making it. She actually knows what she's doing. She's kneading it and making it on the hearth and actually baking real bread. It says, verse 7, "And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat." What did they eat? They ate the calf. They ate of the veal, is what we would call that kind of calf meat. They ate of the butter and the milk and so forth. Here's a guy who, when strangers come around, he takes care of them, he feeds them, he shares his bounty with them. That's the kind of guy that Abraham was. Of course, later on, he finds out of course he's talking to THE LORD and his angels.

Flip over to chapter 19. Chapter 19. That's Abraham in chapter 18. Let's look at Lot in chapter 19. Lot is Abraham's nephew. It says in Genesis 19 verse 1, "And there came two angels to Sodom at even." In chapter 18, we saw these two men exit from the group of three and head toward Sodom. It says, "There came two angels to Sodom at even. And Lot sat in the gate of Sodom and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground." Now, I guarantee you, because as you read the story, this becomes apparent. He did not know that they're angels at this point. He sees two guys. Is he not reacting the exact same way that Abraham did? Bowing his face. Didn't Abraham bow his face to the ground? That's what Lot did. Watch what he says, "Behold now, my lords." Notice the humility, the politeness, the same deal. He says, "Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways." And they said, "Nay, but we will abide in the street all night." Notice the exact same language that Abraham, his uncle, used. Obviously, his uncle had taught him well in this regard.

And they said, "Nay," at the end of verse 2, "We will abide in the street all night." They said, "No, we're not going to come over. We're just going to camp out in the street. We're doing urban camping." In verse 3, it says, "And he pressed upon them greatly." Why? Because he knows what kind of town Sodom is. "He pressed upon them greatly and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread." Why? Because he's a man. I mean, this is consistent, folks. He doesn't know what he's doing. It says, "He baked unleavened bread and they did eat."

Now, you say, "Why didn't his wife cook?" Because his wife was not a godly woman. She probably wasn't even there. She's out with her girlfriends and she left him a Hungry Man in the freezer. She left him one of those Banquet frozen dinners. If he's going to make a feast, he's like, "Okay. Looks like pancakes." It's not going to be anything leavened, that's for sure. By the way, I know how to make pancakes. That's about all I know how to make. Anyway, he made them a feast but it's unleavened, but they did eat.

I just wanted to show you these examples that kind of help you to really comprehend Hebrews 13:2 about entertaining angels unaware, using hospitality, just treating strangers well and just being generous, just being willing to cook a meal for someone. You know, food costs a lot of money, especially if you buy quality food. These guys noticed they're giving their best. I mean, they're not giving a poor meal. What did Lot make? A feast. What did Abraham do? He went and got a calf, veal. I mean, how often do you eat veal? Not that often. One of the reasons why: It's expensive. You know, you go to a restaurant and you order veal, it's going to be high up on the menu. When you see these people that are taking care of visitors and entertaining strangers, they're doing it with something that's costing them money, they're putting effort into it. They're hurrying up and trying to do a good job and treating people well. That's the example of hospitality throughout the Old Testament.

Now, flip over if you would to Titus chapter 1. I want to show you another aspect of hospitality. I think that's the main aspect of hospitality that the Bible teaches, but there is another aspect to hospitality that I want to show you from Titus chapter 1. This kind of ties in with hospitality. This, again, is giving the qualifications for the pastor. It says in verse 7, "For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God, not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre," verse 8, "But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men." I think those two things go together. "A lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate, holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."

Now, we looked at four mentions of hospitality. This time, it's tied in with being a lover of good men. Now, go to Malachi chapter number 3. Last book of the Old Testament, right before the gospel of Matthew, is Malachi chapter number 3. I want to help you to understand how you would apply this today. We don't live in the same culture of the Middle East, nomadic kind of a lifestyle where you're in a tent out in the middle of the desert and all of a sudden, some guy shows up out of the desert and just kind of walks up to your tent and then there's a question, "Okay. How am I going to treat this guy? Is he going to sleep out in the barn? Am I going to feed him with something that's lower-end food or am I not going to feed him at all? Am I going to tell him, 'Hey, there's another tent about ten miles down the road. You can probably make it in time.'" That was the lifestyle. That was just a little different culture, different world that they're living in where people are showing up as they're on a long journey and people would help each other out in that way. God's saying, "Hey, use hospitality." We see them using hospitality in that way in the Old Testament when they're dwelling in tents, when they're travelling around on foot and so forth.

Now, when we get to the New Testament and the Bible talks about using hospitality one with another, you know, the world had already changed a lot because a lot of the New Testament is written unto people living in cities. If we look at most of the New Testament, it's written unto the church at Ephesus, church at Corinth. I mean, these are big cities, not as big say Phoenix, Arizona. Obviously, the cities were much smaller than that back then, but they were in more of a city lifestyle. There's still an opportunity for us today, of course, to use hospitality one to another. I want to help just apply this present day. How can I have this attribute in my life? I want to live up to what God's telling me here and be given to hospitality. Every young man who wants to be a pastor should have this attribute. Every Christian should have this part of their life, to entertain strangers and to be given to hospitality.

Well, as far as being a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, look at Malachi 3:16. It says, "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. 'And they shall be mine,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'in that day when I make up my jewels and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.' Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not." What do we see there? We see that the Bible is talking about the fact they that feared the Lord spake often one to another. Then, it talks about people being able to discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves the Lord and between him that serves him not.

If we're supposed to be a lover of good men and a lover of hospitality and the Bible talks about the fact that those that fear the Lord spake often one to another, part of this has to do with desiring to spend time communing and having fellowship with God's people, sharing a meal with God's people. You know, the Bible talks about in the early church how they broke bread from house to house, how they would spend time continuing in the apostle's doctrine in the breaking of bread and just in fellowship, one with another.

Now, I think one way that you could use hospitality or have this characteristic in your life without even necessarily inviting someone over to your house would be to just, in the modern day setting, probably inviting someone out to eat at a restaurant would be a way to fulfill this. Let's say someone comes to church ... I visited a church a few months ago and people were coming up to me and saying, "Hey, do you want to go grab something to eat with us after the service? Hey, do you want to go get ice cream with us over here after the service?" I'll tell you what. I felt very welcomed. I felt that they were very friendly and that they were being hospitable. I, as a visitor, as someone that they didn't know and I don't even think that they necessarily knew that I was a pastor when I first showed up, and yet, they wanted to invite me out eat and invite me out to ice cream and stuff like that. That just showed that they were being friendly, they were being hospitable, they were willing to buy me an ice cream cone or buy me a meal. I think that that is a great way to show hospitality toward people. If somebody comes to church, invite them out to eat, tell them that you'll buy them lunch, you'll buy them dinner, whatever.

You can have people over at your house for dinner, not even just a stranger, not even just a first time visitor, but even just people from church, just families and friends from church. It's great to build friendships with people from church because you're going to be friends with somebody, it might as well be God's people. Why? Because they're going to be a good influence on you. Why? Because you have a lot in common, because you both love the Lord, you love the church, you love soul-winning, you love the Bible. That's the best kind of friendship that there is. Even just strangers, even just people who are just passing through, or even just people that are visiting. This is a way that you can use hospitality, by treating them well, being polite to them, being friendly to them, and even sharing a meal with them and paying for that meal would be a way that you could do this even today.

Some people, obviously, don't want to come over to your house for dinner or they don't want to go out to dinner with you. It's not even anything against you, necessarily. Some people are just busy. Some people are maybe shy. Some people just might not have time. For example, a few months ago when I was visiting a church and people were inviting me out to this and out to that, I just really didn't have time. I was on a strict schedule and I didn't have time to do it and so I respectfully declined. I still really appreciated the offer.

I'll say this. If you invite somebody out to eat or you invite somebody over to eat and they say no, well, you need to just leave it at that. You need to take the hint. Some people, they don't get it. It's like you ask somebody, "Hey, you want to go out for lunch?" This and that. "Oh, no thanks." "Are you sure?" "No thanks." It's okay to press a little bit. "No, we got to do this." "Okay. What are you doing for dinner?" That's where you're kind of maybe taking a little too far. You know, "Lunch? Are you sure? We're going right over here. Well, if you change your mind, we'll be over there." That's good. Then, when it's like, "Okay. What about Monday night? Monday night's not good? How's Tuesday? Okay. Then, what day?" That's where you're pushing it too far. You don't want to obviously, scare people off with your hospitality like uber hospitality.

At the same time, honestly, part of the reason is because today, we live in a world where people are becoming very antisocial, seriously, because of technology and it's just weird. People are unfriendly. Now, thank God we live in Arizona. Arizona is a pretty friendly place. It's not the most friendly place, but it's not the least friendly either.

If you go to the South, people are really friendly in the South. I mean, you go to the South and, I mean, strangers just walk up to you and just start talking to you everywhere you go. Everywhere you go. I mean, you'll be in line at the grocery store and the people in line will just talk to you and just chat with people. People just walk up to you, start talking. They don't even say who they are. They don't even introduce themselves. They just start talking to you like they know you. They'll just start talking to you. They don't even say, "Hi. What's your name? I'm so-and-so. Hey, how's it going?" They just walk up and just start telling you stuff. You're like, "Whoa. This is weird." I kind of like it. It's nice. Who's been to the South and had people do that? Yeah, they just talk. It's cool how friendly they are, really friendly.

They do everything really slow there. Good night. When you go to the South, the grocery store line will have like seventeen people in line. Never in Arizona would you see that, but they'll have a really long line. Then, the checker, there will be seventeen people in line and then they'll take a personal phone call. "Just a minute." They'll be on the phone and then they'll get off the phone and keep doing the grocery. It's a different world.

Now, you go to the North, the Northeast, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland. It's the opposite. Nobody's friendly, nobody's talking to you. I mean, over there, you just say hi to somebody, it's like, "What? What's your problem? You want a piece of me?" People just freak out if you just say hi to them. People are just like ready to attack or defend themselves. Fight or flight just if you say hi to them in the North. Those are kind of the two extremes, the South and the North. You got to be careful in the North not to be too friendly with people because they're just not friendly at all. That's been my experience.

Then, California and Arizona feel like they're kind of just somewhere in between. You know, we're just right, Goldilocks. We're not just ready to pull out a knife just because you said hi to us. We're not just, you know, acting like you're our brother or something when we've never even seen you before. In Arizona, it's kind of halfway in between.

It's becoming antisocial in the world that we live just because everybody's so plugged in to social media and electronics, they lack basic social skills. It's funny because people say that home schooled kids don't have social skills. In reality, my children are all home schooled, they've never gone to school, and they go to a playground and they know everybody's name in five minutes, they're friends with everybody, they socialize with the kids on our street, they socialize with kids on the playground, they get to know people fast. Yet, I see kids who are in the school system and they don't have those kinds of social skills of just walking up to somebody and talking to them and striking up a conversation and meeting people.

You see now young people too, teenagers and young adults, young men who can't meet girls because they just don't know how to have that conversation. Then, it's all just internet dating. I'm not against you if that's how you met your spouse since that's how everybody seems to be meeting their spouse these days. I'm just saying, you know, you got to get the social skills to just be able to walk up and talk to somebody and strike up a conversation and say hello and introduce yourself and get to know people. Why? Because that's being hospitable. That's why.

When people come to our church, I want us to be a friendly church. When people show up, somebody should be greeting them, somebody should be saying hi to them. Someone should be introducing themselves. Again, this is going to take some social skills. You say, "I'm just not that type of person," well, then change. You know, it's time to come out from the dungeon of the computer cellar and go into the sunlight and actually talk to flesh and blood human beings and come to church and when visitors come, you need to be saying hi to them.

You know, it's a shame if a visitor comes and nobody's talking to them, nobody's saying hi. It takes guts to be a visitor. I'm not even that shy of a person, but I know that whenever I'm visiting a church for the first time, I'm a little nervous, I'm a little bit shy. I'm not even shy by nature. You walk in, everybody knows each other, nobody knows you. I've been to some churches where you walk in and people just stare at you and nobody approaches you and it makes you feel very uncomfortable. Then, other churches, people are coming up to you, "Hey, how you doing?" They're giving you their name. I'd rather be too friendly than not friendly enough.

I think a way to apply this to 2014, just some ways to actually put this into practice in our lives today would be number one, when people come to church, being friendly to them, treating them politely, and maybe even going the extra mile and saying, "Hey, we're going to lunch at so-and-so. Would you like to come with us?" Buying them a meal or inviting families from church over to your house for a meal just during the week, just fellowshipping, getting to know people, being a lover of hospitality and a lover of good men, wanting to spend time fellowshipping with God's people.

Also, another aspect of this would be that when we do see a brother or sister in the church have need, to want to step in and fill that need, maybe buy them some groceries, maybe buy them a meal if we know that they're struggling financially. There are people in our church sometimes that struggle financially and they need that little bit of help and they could use an extra meal or some groceries or whatever their need is. There are people in our church who sometimes have those type of needs and other people who can meet those needs. Obviously, there are sometimes people who've come through our church who have been a deadbeat and people just don't want to work and they just want to mooch off of everybody. Honestly, that's not the majority. I mean, there are all kinds of people who work hard and they can just use a little help from time to time and we should be aware of that and we should be ready to help. Even people who aren't struggling, just to buy them a meal just to show hospitality. Not just to our fellow church members, but also to strangers. That's what the Bible's telling us to do. That's what great men of God in the Old Testament did. They used hospitality without grudging.

Those who give, the Bible says, "Give and it shall be given unto you." The Bible says that we should be generous people and not be tightwads and just all about how much we can hoard for ourselves. You know what, just pull out your wallet and buy somebody a meal and treat people well and think about others more than you think about yourself, I think is the message here. That's what this means when it says the pastor must be a person that is given to hospitality.

What does given mean? Remember, he says, "Not given to wine. Given to hospitality." That given to is a term that's being used here to mean he's the type of person who uses hospitality. When the Bible says "given to hospitality," it means he's the type of guy that that's just what comes naturally to him, that's what he does, that's become a part of his character or habit to use hospitality, to be hospitable. Whereas the guy who's not given to wine, meaning it's out of character for him to drink. That's not the type of character that he has. That's what given to means. It means that's the type of guy that you are. We as God's people should be given to hospitality and we should be a lover of hospitality. Those are the qualifications.

Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer.

Father, we thank you so much for your word, Lord. We thank you for these examples from the Old Testament that could teach us about being hospitable and caring for others and serving people a meal and sometimes even a home cooked meal. Lord, help us to put this into practice in our lives in 2014, to want to prepare food for other people and serve them and to treat people with politeness and dignity and respect and especially visitors, strangers, people that are probably not going to ever do anything for us in return. That's not the point. We're doing it because we love you, Lord. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.