It’s 30 minutes before the guests arrive. Dishes are piled high in the sink from the meal you just spent 3 hours preparing. You give your husband a glance that pleads for his assistance, but he misses the cue. Your son walks through the door and gives you a hug while gently insinuating that you don’t smell guest-worthy. You rush to take a quick shower and throw on some clothes only to find the kids have destroyed the house that you just spent hours cleaning. Your oldest starts bossing his younger sister around, and you impatiently raise your voice at them. You are now berating yourself for being the world’s worst mom when you hear the timer beep to take the casserole out of the oven. You haphazardly throw all of the dirty dishes in the dishwasher – and the doorbell rings. You desperately need a shower but instead, wipe the wispies out of your face, sternly look at the children to knock it off, muster up a smile, and proceed to open the door…

Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation? We know God wants us to love others. We know the Bible commands hospitality. But sometimes, the reality is daunting. This makes me ponder the following: should I run around like a madwoman each time guests come over? Is this really biblical hospitality? Is it only my job, or should my husband help? Let’s scroll over 3 John 1-12 and see if we can’t find a few answers.

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. For I was overjoyed when brothers came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brothers and sisters, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may prove to be fellow workers with the truth.

I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with malicious words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brothers either, and he forbids those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does what is good is of God; the one who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we testify too, and you know that our testimony is true.

I had many things to write to you, but I do not want to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.

Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

What better passage to look at than a letter written specifically on the issue of hospitality! Let’s consider Gaius our “hero of hospitality,” while Diotrephes could be our “venomous villain.” We may look at our villain in another article, but let’s hone in on our hero for now. Interestingly, the commendation given to Gaius was one of the greatest in the NT. Yet, so few words are spoken to him in this brief epistle. This begs us to scrutinize the text.

John says that Gaius was a man of obedience & kindness. His walk matched his talk. He may have undergone many health trials, numerous setbacks, yet, his reputation was that of being hospitable. There are three items to consider regarding the hospitality displayed through this hero of the faith. 

Hospitable to the Right People

First, Gaius opened up his home to those who were of the Body of Christ. The “strangers” in verse five likely reference itinerant teachers that were known and approved by John. The book of 2 John warned against showing hospitality to false teachers. In contrast, 3 John shows us the proper standards of Christian hospitality. Hence, we can conclude that Gaius showed an excellent evaluation of/to whom he welcomed.

What a freeing truth to consider, friends. That we don’t need to open up our home to everyone, but to the right one. The Lord doesn’t expect us to entirely deprioritize our children on the altar of running a hotel. No doubt there will be times where we must intake the orphan or widow, but by and large, we have the freedom to utilize our home to encourage more excellent gospel ministry. 

Hospitable in the Right Way

Second, Gaius was to send these guests out in “a manner worthy of God.” Pastor John MacArthur says that this phrase has the connotation of treating people as God would treat them – Wow! – the passage doesn’t say that we are to entertain our guests, have an Instagram-worthy home, or be the best chef in town. Instead, we are to simply show them the love of Christ. 

This begs an honest question: can we show our guests Jesus if we are not showing our family a Spirit-filled life before their arrival? Our life is to be holy, not dualistic. So, if we need to order some pizzas rather than present a three-course meal, let it be so. Leaving a few toys out or diaper smell may not harm the ministry but help it. May we be women of the Word who strive for the praise of our Lord and not of man. 

Hospitable with the Right Help

One final observation from the Word that often is missed. 1 Timothy 3:2 & Titus 1:8 both give the requirement of hospitality to a man, specifically an elder in the church. It is interesting how often the topic of hospitality is discussed amongst women, but rarely regarding men.

So, might I encourage you, sister in the faith (if you’re married), to discuss the topic of hospitality with your husband. Make it a fun project to craft a game plan where you are his helpmate (and he participates) in making the home a hospitable place for guests. More so, brainstorm on the type of guests the Lord would have you host and the intentional spiritual fruit you’re attempting to see bloom. Prayerfully the children will also participate and grow up seeing a home that is hospitable to the glory of God. 

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