Summary: A leader is not content just to be a Christian. He wants to be a good Christian, and the best Christian he can be. They put forth effort in order to grow. They are ever reaching up to find better ways to apply God's Word in their lives.
Late one night in Philadelphia and elderly couple came into a
little third class motel. The husband said to the night clerk, "Please
don't tell us you don't have a room. My wife and I have been all
over the city looking for a place to stay. We didn't know about the
big conventions that have filled the motels. We are dead tired and
its after midnight. Please don't tell us you have no place for us to
sleep." The clerk looked at them for a long moment and then said,
"The only room available is my own. I work at night and sleep in
the daytime. It's not as nice as the other rooms but its clean. I'll be
happy to let you use it for the night." The wife said, "God bless you
The next morning they invited the clerk to breakfast and they
said, you are too fine a hotel man to be in a place like this. How
would you like to be the manager of a large luxurious hotel?" The
clerk was suspicious about them, but he did stammer out, "It sounds
wonderful." They said they would contact him, and believe it or
not, the man became the best known hotel man in the world. That
couple were the Astors, and they went and built the famous
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It had 1900 rooms, and
this young man who shared his room for one night of hospitality was
made the manager. He had not entertained angels unaware, but he
had entertained a millionaire. And he was rewarded beyond his
Paul does not say that Christian leaders will all be rewarded
with great jobs if they show hospitality, but he does make this a
requirement just to be a positive Christian leader. We think of
hospitality more along the lines of having people over for a meal, or
of scheduling parties as a place for people to meet and fellowship.
This is a valid concept, but the experience of the young clerk is more
in keeping with the original idea of hospitality. The word comes
from hospital, and if you trace the word hospital, you discover that
it was first of all a place to shelter and entertain strangers. The first
hospitals were more life motels and hotels. People travelling needed
a place to stay in the old days as well as now, and where they stayed
was in the hospital.
This is directly related to the Greek word we are exploring for
hospitality. It is the word philoxenos, which means the love of
strangers. To be hospitable means to be open to care for the needs
of people you do not know. Paul is not saying a Christian leader is
one who must run his own motel, but he is saying that they must be
those who are willing to take people in and give food and shelter.
The idea is that a leader should set an example of Christlikeness in
being willing, as Jesus was, to share all he had to meet the needs of
others. Hospitality is part of the spirit of ministry. You have to give
of yourself to be hospitable. It takes time, effort, and money to care
about people. The Good Samaritan found a stranger in need and
gave of his time and money to put him up in a motel.
The original meaning is love of strangers, and so it is not the
same thing as having fellowship with other Christians at your home.
It has to do with your compassion for the people you don't even
know. Peter uses this same word in I Pet. 4:9 where he writes,
"Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." Apparently
some Christians were doing the right thing, but with the wrong
spirit. They help their fellow Christians in their travel, but they did
not like it, and it was a burden.
The fact is, the only way to be a good Christian is to bear one
another's burdens. You just can't get by and be a good Christian if
you don't pay some sort of price in helping others along the road.
Sometimes we forget this and expect to sail along and not have to
bear other's burdens, but that is escapism, and it is not fitting for
someone who is a Christian leader. If every Christian is to be
hospitable, then the leader is one who is to be setting the pace and be
showing hospitality in a conspicuous way.
Hospitality to Christians can be a burden. The cost of food is
such that feeding people very often can be a major expense. But this
is usually enjoyable and you benefit from it on the spot. But Jesus
said in Luke 14 that we are not to invite people you know to your