“Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. . . We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.”
Feed the Angels
In John’s day, prophets, evangelists, and teachers traveled to spread the Good News. John wrote this letter to Gaius, a man whom John discipled and loved as a spiritual child, to encourage him to continue to invite these Christian servant leaders into his home for a meal or to stay the night. The Greek for “brothers and sisters” in this verse is for believers in Jesus, who are part of God’s family.
These Good News teachers would not accept help from unbelievers, so no one could claim they were teaching about Jesus for personal gain. The church body was fully responsible for taking care of these missionaries’ needs.
John wrote to encourage those who were kind to others. We need to encourage those who take Jesus to parts of the world we aren’t called to serve — pray for them, listen to them, and help in any way we can.
We don’t want any part of Christ’s body to grow weary and stop serving in the calling God has for them.
How can you encourage someone in the body doing the work God has called them to? It could be your pastor, small group leader, or a missionary. Maybe God is nudging you to write a check that will answer the prayers of a much needed ministry. Or if God lays it on your heart to call or write a note, please do it today. He may already have brought someone to mind.
But the encouragement and hospitality may be to help support a different member of Jesus’ body. As believers we all need encouragement, praise, and humble hospitality.
You might need to encourage a stay at home mom struggling with a new baby or taking care of three very active kids. She knows this is what God has called her to and she willingly serves with joy, but, oh, man, a text or a small gift from you would mean the world to her. She needs to know that someone notices.
You might need to invite those college girls over for dinner one night. Spaghetti, real home life, with conversations about living for Jesus around your table, may be just what they are craving. Encourage them that they can keep God’s vision for their life as they select majors and make relationship choices.
I thought it was interesting that most of the folks Gaius was hosting and helping were strangers to him. He might have guessed they were Jesus followers from their reputation around town or their last sermon, but what if he didn’t? What if Gaius was opening his heart, home, and dinner table to anyone in need that was passing through town?
Those on the path but still asking hard questions. Those hungry and depressed. Those without a home. Those who needed someone to tell them the truth, again. Those who were beat up by the enemy and questioning what this calling had gotten them into.
Whether a friend or a stranger, all need to know someone cares. All need courage infused into their spirit. All need to feel at home. All need a listening ear. All need not feel alone in their faith journey.
All need Jesus in the flesh to show up — that’s you.
If Gaius seems like the girl you follow online with the knack for hospitality or your mother-in-law who is an excellent cook without trying, but to you seems a little overwhelming or out of your league, remember this: Because Jesus knew who He was — secure in God the Father’s love — He could love to the utmost and serve to the lowest. Serve those that loved, hated, and would betray Him.
As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit produces the same character and confidence of Jesus in you. You can’t count on yourself or your own abilities to encourage and be hospitable, but you can rely on Jesus to empower you to do the good works He has prepared in advance for you to do.
Don’t be too busy to show hospitality. God tells us your soup could feed an angel or better yet, it’s like doing it unto Jesus.
How has someone showed hospitality to you in a meaningful way? What’s one step you can take this week to intentionally care for another in Jesus’ name?