Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Invitation to Christ’s Hospitality
“He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree”. vs 8
The chapter opens at the great trees of Mamre, a place where Abraham has often been in his years in Canaan. While Abraham sat in the shade at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day, suddenly he saw three strangers approaching. He assumed that they were weary and thirsty as they must have come from the desert. At once, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground. Abraham then extended hospitality to them by offering a place to rest, and the refreshment of washing and nourishment. People of the ancient Near East extended hospitality to strangers as a sacred duty and a personal honour.
Hospitality is mentioned several times in the New Testament, and in those days the effective Churches practiced it earnestly. Apostle Peter and Paul exhorts the believers to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9), “share with the Lord's people who are in need; practice hospitality” (Rom 12:13). The English dictionary defines hospitality as ‘the friendly treatment of guests or strangers. The Greek word used for it in the New Testament is ‘Philo-Xenia’ means’ love of strangers’.
We shall highlight three characteristics of Abraham’s servanthood ministry (diaconal serving) in this given passage.
The SWIFTNESS of his service (Vs 1-5)
True hospitality crosses all boundaries. When he saw the strangers, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them. Though Abraham was rich and powerful, he gives energetic greetings to the strangers, irrespective of their identity. It is praiseworthy. It is worthy to note that all his actions towards the strangers were motivated by faith and obedience in the almighty God. He treated them as if they were the angels of the Lord. Prophet Isaiah asserts, “Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter” (Isaiah 58:7).
The EXCELLENCE of his service (Vs 7-8)
Not only was Abraham swift in his service, but he was also sacrificial in his service to them. He went to his flock and personally selected a calf for the meal. He rendered them the finest flour and the choicest calf. The meal they prepared was a meal fit for a king. We haven’t become a servant until our service costs us personally. The service we extend to others whether in the means of time, money or talent; it should be rendered gracefully and for the glory of God.
The GRACEFULNESS of his service (vs 8)
While his visitors were eating their meal, Abraham stood beside them; as if ready to attend to their needs like a waiter at an expensive restaurant. He served them, rather than ate with them. Real servants of God are those who make themselves available to the need of the others in their society.
Hospitality means receiving strangers and treating them with love and care, irrespective of colour, creed and culture. The word love is not a noun, but a verb. It is not a feeling, but a responsibility. Sharing the little that we have is godlier, like the widow at Zarephath who treated Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-16). When we open our doors for the needy, we must realize that it is to God himself we have received; and avoiding them is considered as a failure to take care of the Lord (Mathew 25:34-40).
We are called to love and serve.
During His public ministry, Jesus fed a great crowd. The night before His betrayal, He humbled to the point of washing His disciple’s feet and later served bread and wine. After His resurrection, Jesus greeted the weary disciples at Tiberius shore and offered them breakfast; and at Emmaus road, He walked with them and turned in to be the host at the table. All those events are the illustrations of Jesus’ love and hospitality.
God always rewards the faithful service that is rendered to Him and to His people. In Abraham’s case, the heavenly messengers blessed him and reassured the birth of Isaac. May God grant us spiritual wisdom to use our resources gracefully and extend hospitality to His people!
Father, we offer our hands to serve, our voice to encourage, and our arms to embrace. At the end of each day, remind us that whatever we have done for the least of our brethren is also our service for You. Search our hearts, O God, and help us to see You in other people. Amen!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Keep in mind that some people we encounter may be Angels. Treat everyone like he/she is a representative of heaven!
W/O Rev. Joseph Chacko
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church