And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-29
How can I learn to love God like that? Is loving God the same as obeying Him…following a “do this…not that” set of rules. Or would such total way of loving God come as an outgrowth of my relationship with Him? As I seek to know Him better (through His word) and learn to trust and rely Him (through prayer) my love for God grows even deeper in my heart, soul and mind.
Could that also be true for loving my neighbor as myself? Instead of keeping a set of “this is how you love” rules, is it through developing a relationship with my neighbor? Maybe…but how can I have that kind of relationship?
Have you ever considered that’s God’s plan for us to learn to love our neighbors as ourselves is through hospitality? Think about this…the three key verses about hospitality are paired with the call to love.
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 1 Peter 4:8-9
It is through hospitality I learn to love my neighbors down the street, those sitting next to me at church, and the strangers God brings into my life.
Hospitality doesn’t start with the house or the meal (although they are both important aspects). Hospitality starts when we take time to notice the people God has placed in our lives. Hospitality continues when we began to pray for them. Hospitality grows as we engage them in a conversation and genuinely listen to them. Every act of hospitality may not include a meal in your home, but every act of hospitality should be done out of love…love for our neighbors and love for our God.