By Allen White
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
When we hear “hospitality,” we think “Martha Stewart. Well, that is Martha Stewart the gracious hostess, party planner, author and television personality, not the Martha Stewart, felon and former federal prisoner. But, this verse is actually closer to the second Martha Stewart.
Peter is not telling believers that we should throw gracious dinner parties for each other with fine china and crystal without complaining about it. Why would be complain about that? It’s fun.
Hospitality here is not in terms of feeding the well fed. Peter is encouraging to help other believers who are without food and shelter and to not grumble about it. Now, I understand where the grumbling comes in.
We have all had an experience where someone who probably hasn’t showered for a few days approaches us out of the blue to ask for money for food, lodging or transportation. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. We evaluate whether we really believe they are hungry or if this just a better approach than asking for money to buy crack cocaine or alcohol. When we don’t give, we feel guilty. When we do give, we wonder if somehow we just got ripped off or if we’re supporting a habit that will lead to this person’s destruction. If I help them, is it really “help”?
Then, I think, should I even be evaluating this? Isn’t this one of God’s children? Shouldn’t I just give them something? But, then I think, I don’t just give my children money without asking them a few questions? It’s a difficult issue.
So, this is what my family does: we support two children through World Vision. One is Elsa in Peru that we’ve supported for more than 10 years. The other is Paul in Uganda who we’ve supported since the Third Day concert in San Jose about 9 years ago. Supporting these two is less than my monthly cable bill, yet it’s created an entirely different life for them. I don’t need to worry that the money is going to the wrong things, because I know that World Vision feeds, clothes and educates them both.
If we do want to help someone locally, there are many fine organizations in the community that are much better equipped to assist the homeless than I am. I would encourage you to support Miracle Hill, Triune Mercy Center and the Salvation Army in Greenville, SC. If you don’t live in Greenville, then ask your church about what to do.
Now, if someone approaches you, pray a quick prayer and ask what God would have you do. I have found that it’s better to plan my “hospitality” than to be caught in the spur of the moment. What does God want you to do?
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