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Biblical Hospitality Defined: The Art of Serving Others

on March 30, 2015 by Jami Balmet 15 comments

Hospitality: What comes to mind? Do you picture a beautiful house complete with a gourmet meal, friends around the dinner table, and polite chit chat? Hospitality can be this, but it’s really much more.

what does Biblical hospitality look like

By the way: I have a brand new FREE video series on hospitality! Take a journey through Scripture with me as we explore what the Bible has to say on hospitality, what hospitality can look like, and then dive into practical tips with a beginner’s guide to hospitality. You can access the first video instantly HERE!

Hospitality can look like:

  • Inviting a non-Christian family out to pizza after the soccer game.
  • Sharing a picnic at the park with the single mom down the street.
  • Inviting that new couple at church over for Sunday brunch.

Hospitality can come in many forms but the ultimate purpose is this: To honor and obey God by serving those around us. As Christians we are called to practice Biblical Hospitality…and practice it with joy!

“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Sam 15:22). The words of John 14:15, 21-24 clearly identify that the primary evidence that individuals are Christians is their choice to obey their Father’s commands….I learned that to please my heavenly Father I need to respond to all of his instructions with an obedient spirit and not just pick those that appeal to me – and that includes my response to what his Word teaches about hospitality.” ~ Practicing Hospitality, Pg 22

Hospitality – A Biblical Command

Why should we be concerned about hospitality and practicing it? Because God commands that we practice hospitality – and we should obey!

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:13

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” ~ Hebrews 13:2

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” ~ 1 Peter 4:9 –

“First Peter 4:9 builds on the instructions to practice hospitality and reminds me that my attitude is of utmost important – I am to practice hospitality without complaining! This verse challenges me to conduct a heart search to discern what my attitude is and whether I am approaching this opportunity to minister enthusiastically (Colossians 3:23).” ~ Practicing Hospitality, Pg 23

Later this week I will go more in depth into what hospitality actually looked like practiced in both the Old Testament and the New. We will dive into Biblical examples and how we can learn from people such as Abraham & Sarah, Lot, Gideon, and more!

So What Does Hospitality Look Like?

So now we know that Biblical hospitality is commanded {and we will delve into that more} but what exactly does that look like? As I showed above, Biblical hospitality can take on many different forms.

The ultimate purpose of hospitality is to minister to those around us – both believers and unbelievers. Our hospitality is a form of ministry and is a way that we show love, care, concern, and how we can serve others!

“Hospitality from a Biblical perspective is to recognize that God is more interested in caring relationships than the mold behind the shower curtain…It need not matter if we live in a single-room apartment or a split-level ranch, the only real requirement is allowing God to use our lives and our possessions…Our homes and our lives are indeed the most powerful combination of ministry to our world.” ~ Hospitality with Confidence, Pg 9

Hospitality is not about showing off your house, your decorating skills, or your cooking abilities. It is not just having friends over to play games {although that can be an element of it}. It is not about you or your possessions – Hospitality is about God and how he uses you and your possessions to serve those you come into contact with – both friends and strangers, both believers and unbelievers.

Anyone – even the single gal in a dorm room – can show hospitality to those around them. It doesn’t take fancy china or expensive food. Hospitality is about investing in other’s lives and learning how you can best serve those around you.

We could have a revolution within our churches of believers reaching out into our unbelieving neighborhoods and inviting families over, new people to the church quickly getting plugged into church life, and Christians really genuinely caring and serving for one another – through the Biblical art of hospitality!

I am excited you are on this journey with me! We are going to begin tomorrow by diving into what God has to say and teach on Hospitality in the Old Testament tomorrow.

Read more in this series:

Come with me on a journey to discover the Biblical art of serving others in The Joy of Hospitality Series!

All new hospitality Video series

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. I love what you’ve written here.
    My husband and I live just outside of DC. We have cars, but many people in the area rely solely on public transportation. Unfortunately, our house is just outside of the range of this, so I hesitate to invite some people over because it would be difficult for them get here (we could pick them up, but depending on where they live and if they have car seats for their kiddos, this isn’t always a good plan).
    You point out that there are other ways to practice hospitality. Your suggestion of a picnic in the park is a great idea!

    • Hi Shannon,

      That would be really tough to be able to practice hospitality! A picnik in the park is a great idea! Or maybe pick a location that you could drive too and would be easy for that family or couple to get too, like a pizza place! You can get creative with the location as long as your focus is on how you can serve, witness to, and get to know others 🙂 I would love to hear how it works for you when you decide to try some other things 🙂

  2. I am so excited about this! I really need to hear from others how they practice hospitality. I have a confidence issue when it comes to this. I don’t know why, maybe I am afraid to fail? I cannot wait to read everything in this series! God bless you for doing this for the ladies like me 🙂

    • Stephanie that was me too a few years ago!! My only experience with “hospitality” was inviting good friends or family over! And even that didn’t happen too often. We were so nervous the first few times we invited people over we barely knew. But the more we practiced it, the easier it became and we really enjoy it now!!

      But even with that, it’s still a little nerve racking sometimes. We just moved to a new area and it took a little while to get settled and find people to invite over as well as getting settled in with our twins…so it had been a while since we invited people over and we were surprised to find out that we were a little nervous about it 😉 haha!

      You are not alone! I think many people {women especially} struggle with finding this a bit scary! And many worry that their house, cooking, decorating, ect is not good enough! But let me assure you, even a hotdog and a place to sit on the floor can be used for God’s glory when serving others through hospitality!

      I’m glad you stopped by Stephanie, thanks! 😀

      • I really have to learn to get out of my comfort zone. I am wonderfully and fearfully made! I share God’s glory whenever and where ever I can, I guess I just have the mental picture of hospitality as “June Cleaver” LOL 🙂

        • LOL! I think that’s a common picture for many people.Tomorrow and Wednesday I’m talking about Hospitality in the bible so maybe it will give you some new pictures 😉

  3. Hello sister,
    I am Katie, one who loves to practice hospitality and has been doing so for 28 years while married and many before that in my parents’ home. One of my passions at this point in my life is to encourage ladies of all ages and stations in life to practice hospitality. I continually post on my Instagram page and encourage through our YouTube channel (both are Heritage Ways) that folks can show hospitality in many ways and not just by having lots of feet under a fancy dining room table. For example, our 8 year-old daughter baked a cake and took it to our (unbelieving) neighbor man (escorted by her older brother). We had invited this gentleman over numerous times but he is very much a loner. Her act of showing hospitality, however, opened doors (literally) and he has since been here several times. He still won’t come in the house but he spends lots of time in the yard or on the porch talking to my husband. As I mentioned, our family’s various ministries are extended into social media. Just this year I was led by the Lord to begin a private IG account called Front Porch Church. The Lord has used this little community to do great things in many ladies’ lives- connecting many, encouraging many, giving ladies hope and a place to share and pray for one another. A very recent post made by myself about hospitality received some interesting feedback (dare I say, negative). I encouraged ladies that they can show hospitality in many forms and not just by having folks into their homes. We all are aware that some folks just don’t have the time, space, money, etc, to have company inside their homes. I choose to believe that taking a plate of cookies to a shut-in or a cake to a crotchy neighbor 🙂 are definitely ways to show hospitality. One lady disputed this by making sure the group understood that “Biblical” hospitality is ONLY when you have people into your home and “break bread”. This particular lady is a woman of God and a studier of the Word but her post to the group disturbed me and set me on a mission to research more on this topic. Oh, it didn’t disturb me because I disagree with her but because other ladies who live in tiny houses with tiny budgets read her comments. Well, friend, allll that to say that I appreciate the research and study you have put into this topic which is dear to my heart. Let us continue to go forth and show hospitality, in and out of our homes.
    God Bless You,
    Heritage.Ways on Instagram and Heritage Ways on YouTube

  4. How does one practice Christian hospitality if one has moderate social anxiety? Surely God would understand one’s hesitation?