What You Need To Know About Hospitality And Charity
- The common denominator between hospitality and charity (and the reason I am discussing them together) is that both refer to the generous sharing of our wealth w/others: hospitality is what it is called when it is in regard to entertaining others – most especially God’s people, and charity it is what I am calling it when such sharing is in relation to the God (i.e. His church). God expects His people to practice both: hospitality and charity (Rom 12:13; 1Pe 4:9; Luk 12:21 – we are to be “rich toward God” – most specifically, His church/covenant community or house – Deu 16:9-17 = At the center of two of Israel’s most important Sabbatical Feasts was the giving of a free-will offering from each family’s wealth to the church/covenant community. This is the context of 2Co 8-9. As it re: to God’s house, see Hag 1:3-4, 9; 2Sa 24:24).
- The word to describe those who fail to be generous w/their wealth (who are neither hospitable or charitable) is “stingy” (Pro 23:6 = Literally, “evil eye”. Hebrew idiom referring to a person who is characterized by stinginess or lack of generosity when it comes to sharing their wealth w/God or others).
- The greatest temptations we will face in life are those related to three areas: sex (e.g. temptations toward immorality), family (temptation toward idolatry or putting our “water family” above our “blood/covenant family” and God – i.e. “the blood of the covenant is to be thicker than the water of the womb”) and money (being stingy w/our wealth). The area that is most dangerous or difficult is money – i.e. being hospitable and charitable (Mat 19:23-24 “easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle”) = Hyperbole indicating the level of difficulty Jesus is associating w/those who are rich and getting into heaven. On a scale from 1 to 10, the difficulty is a 10.
- Jesus reveals that possessing an “evil/bad eye” (i.e. being characterized by stinginess) indicates that you are filled w/spiritual “darkness” and serve the false god of “mammon” (Mat 6:24 “money”) = Mammon – which is more than just our money. It refers to earthly riches or resources. A person serving mammon as their god, is a person who does not generously share those resources (e.g. food, clothing, lodging, money).
- Both Jesus and Paul reveal that what causes a person to be stingy is lack of trust/refusal to trust in God for their future (i.e. they don’t believe God will take care of them; they look to their wealth as their security rather than God) (1Ti 6:17-18; Luk 12:16-19 “tear down my barns and build larger ones…you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax” = Rather than view his present windfall as the God ordained opportunity to be “rich toward God” [v21], he instead uses it to remove his dependence upon God in the future).
- What stingy people (those not practicing hospitality or charity) fail to realize:
6.1. The source of all their wealth is not themselves (i.e. their effort or ability) but God (Deu 8:18).
6.2. One of the biggest reasons God gives wealth is so that we can use it to get to heaven: as the means to “buying a place in heaven” (1Ti 6:19 w/Mat 6:19-21) = Where we invest our wealth will determine where our affections/loyalty/future ultimately resides (heaven or earth, heaven or hell?).
6.3. Being poor is often God’s merciful judgment of those who are stingy since such stinginess is a sign of what such people would be if they had more money resulting in greater (or more serious judgment) (Jam 4:2-3; 2Co 9:6; Pro 11:24, 28:22; Luk 12:42-48).
- What (then) is required/what it looks like to be hospitable and charitable:
7.1. Hospitable (or generous in the entertainment of others – most esp. God’s people) (Mat 14-21, 15:32-38) = What do we see in both accounts? There was lots of food leftover. Jesus knew exactly how much food needed to be made to satisfy the hunger of every single person, yet each time purposely made more. And since they lacked the technology to preserve such items (they didn’t have fridges), that meant much of it would go to waste (the amounts listed were more than Jesus and the disciples could have eaten before some of it went bad). So Jesus not only made more than enough, He deliberately knew that much of what was left would rot (or go to waste). The point (then) not to miss = This is how we are to practice hospitality. Never should anyone leave hungry or there be so little left that everyone feels awkward (e.g. the chip bowl is empty, there is only one piece of meat left, there is only enough for everyone to have one cookie for dessert). To be hospitable means to have plenty of leftovers (waste!). If you have a problem w/that then it’s b/c your view of what it means to be responsible w/your resources, or the money God gives you is not biblical and needs to change. What you think is prudence is stinginess and lack of trust in God. God wants us to be “wasteful” when it comes to hospitality. Also, in respect to hospitality consider (Heb 13:2 w/Gen 18:1-8) = We should not be feeding our guests the leftovers or what we had lying around in the pantry – or even the cheap crap we may like to eat during the week. We are instead to give them the kind of food they consider to be among the best and/or a delicious feast.
7.2. Charitable (or generous toward God/God’s church/covenant community) (Luk 12:13-21) “rich man” = Person possessing most of what he gains (hence the reason he even has some/a little for the future – or enough to build “barns” [small storage units]); “land…produced plentifully” = His income that year was far beyond its normal yield (i.e. a windfall). He was like a person receiving an “inheritance” (v13). How then we are to view such situations of abundance: 1) consistent w/the theme of the free-will offering (e.g. those made during the Feast of Weeks and Booths), we are to interpret all such yields as God wanting us to give above and beyond our normal tithe – i.e. we are also to provide a free-will offering (to His church/covenant community) in respect to that abundance, 2) God expects that free-will offering to be the majority of our windfall (it is God who is supposed to get “rich” – i.e. be the one possessing most of the gain/abundance, in this scenario – not us. Consider again the definition of “rich” in respect to the man in this example [see italics]), 3) such windfalls/abundance are a test from God since “one’s life (one’s judgment before God) does not consist in (will not be determined based on) the abundance of his possessions” (or laying “up treasure” for self) but in being “rich toward God.” Like the rich man (and as discussed earlier), many people will end up condemned by God (i.e. go to hell) b/c they failed this most important test: when they received an abundance, they failed to practice charity (toward God) and were instead stingy – keeping the majority (or all) of the money for themselves.