1 Peter 4:9
Hospitality and Giving
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
1 Peter 4:9 (Holman) Use hospitality one to another without complaining.
We are considering spiritual gifts, God-given abilities, sometimes called enrichments or enablements. The gift of hospitality makes people feel welcome, at ease, in any given situation. Hospitality, not confined to private homes, is a spirit, an attitude, an environment hospitable people carry with them.
We have it if we love to open our home, if guests are not a nuisance. This aspect of the gift is not measured by our housekeeping ability. The hospitable are more interested in people feeling at home than in being impressive.
It is no coincidence the word “hospitality” has the word “hospital” in it. The gift entails meeting people where they are, and ministering to their needs.
Not all have this gift, but all can be hospitable. Ours is the faith of the open door. Welcome people into our homes. Let our houses be instruments of kindness, God’s safe harbors for others. A selfish home cannot be pleasing to God.
A major reason the early church succeeded was her being nurtured in homes, not cathedrals; hospitality was vital because many Christians were banished and persecuted. As hunted and hounded refugees, aliens dispersed in a hostile world, believers were often desperate to find safe places. To receive them was a punishable crime. It was risky, dangerous business, but required of believers.
Hospitality not only helped wayfarers; it also served a social purpose. The early church’s habit of gathering in homes broke down walls that divided people socially, economically, and culturally. It can do the same today. The last barrier to be broken down between people groups is usually our kitchen table.
Without an open-door policy, Christian history would have been much different. For example, the Sunday School movement was born in the kitchens of willing families. Many new churches are incubated and nurtured in homes.
The extensive ministry of many mighty preachers would have never existed had it not been for the hospitality of saints. Imagine how different history would have been had there been no homes to welcome Wesley, Whitefield, Asbury, etc.
We have needs in our church for hospitality: greeters and ushers, First Impressions Team, Second Generation, Tiny Town, The Vine, in-home groups, Foster and Adoption Ministry, Baptism Volunteers, Victory Mission meals.
If you have this gift, stake out for yourself a portion of this auditorium. Do here what you want to do at home. Make everyone in the sphere of your influence feel at home here. Give them a sense of belonging. It is terrible to feel like an outsider. Let’s not let it happen here. Set people at ease, make them feel cared for.
Romans 12:8b . . .giving, with generosity;
All believers are to have a giving, generous spirit. Jesus was speaking to all of us when he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
The satisfaction of helping others is more fulfilling than any gratification we gain through selfishness. What we give away and share is what we enjoy.
What we keep is what grieves us. None of us is losing sleep over money we put in the church offering plate, but many are restless about money we kept for us.
We lie awake at night worrying not about the things we have given away, but about things we kept–our house that has payments too high, our car that is wearing out before paid for, our clothes that are now out of style or no longer fit.
Many of us worry about credit card debts; some will be unable to give to others tomorrow, next month, or next year because yesterday, last month, and last year we spent money on ourselves we did not yet have. We do have the right to care for ourselves, but only after we have given to God and others.
We all are to give. However, some among us have the spiritual gift of giving, the uncanny ability to give time, possessions, and money wisely and generously for God’s work and for others. This gift does not refer to tithing; all believers are to give 10%. The giving gift goes liberally and joyfully beyond 10%.
These people sincerely say, “We can’t out give God.” If Pastor preaches on money, they never grimace; they get excited, for they look for ways to give more.
If when money, making time commitments, and giving possessions are mentioned in a sermon, you think, “Oh no, not again,” and have sudden urges to clutch your wallet and calendar, you don’t have this gift. But if your spouse forbids you to speak to telemarketers because you can’t say no, this may be your gift.
The gift of giving, critical to God’s work, is a huge help to church ministries. Money can provide salaries for more staff, and pay for ministries, mission trips, etc. Everything a local church does is in some way connected to the one-dollar bill.
Time is a precious gift to give. Much ministry and mission in churches is thwarted by a lack of volunteer hours. Ministries at Second that help us use the spiritual gift of giving include Victory Mission Meals, Labor for your Neighbor, Flower, Bread, and Touch Ministries, Operation Christmas Child, Quilting, Second Yarn Works, Foster and Adoption Ministry, Bereavement Ministry, etc.
Giving, when seen in action, is one of the most beautiful spiritual gifts we have. I know this for a fact because my wife Ruth has this gift. I have for years watched her generosity spread sunshine and beauty in her wake. I almost never think about giving more in a given situation than she thinks—gifts for college students, workers, staff, family; leaving tips at restaurants and hotels. If I did not believe in the sovereignty of God, I would call this the spiritual gift of bankruptcy.
As with the other gifts, the gift of giving has dangers. One, pride. Be humble and grateful. Give because God’s example was sacrificial giving. He gave His Son—His only, His best—to the just and unjust, to the worthy and unworthy.
Two, conveying a feeling of superiority. Give because we love. People easily recognize self-serving purposes. Give because people have value. Each is made in the image of God, is one Jesus died for, and one the Holy Spirit seeks.
Avoid giving with strings attached, as a form of control or manipulation. Don’t add a lecture, complaint, or criticism. These make people feel we think they are not our equals. If we minister to the poor, remember a person’s worth is not determined by their financial status. All persons are of equal, infinite worth.
The ground is level at the foot of the cross, where we all stand guilty; our debt paid by nail-scarred hands. Remember this when it is time to give to another. Do it in ways to save the receiver’s dignity. We are always giving to an equal.
Three, giving things to people that may not be good for them. We can easily become enablers for unwise decisions. People might use our gifts unwisely.
Be mindful that repetitive giving may cause the receiver to develop a sense of entitlement or dependence. Give when the need is genuine, when a person cannot help themselves, or when a gift might give them hope for a better future.
Four, giving to impress others. Our giving can be an example and motivation for others to imitate, but we must not conceal hidden motives. Examine our heart.
Why are we giving; to please God, or to give a false appearance of virtue or goodness? Jesus said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).
Five, giving to earn God’s favor. Give with open heart and hand. We know God blesses us, but we do right at all cost, leaving results to God. Our focus is not on what we gain, but on the person we are helping—that his or her needs would be met, and that they would feel better about themselves and their situation.
People with the gift of giving teach us by their example that the value of our gift can be enhanced by the way we offer it. How we give is as vital as how much.
Our text says give “with generosity.” This implies grace and beauty. No ostentation allowed. Giving should be a kindness bestowed quietly and easily, done without changing our countenance. People with the gift of giving pour forth sweet water like a lovely spring. Too many are like my Grandma’s water pump, always having to be primed before giving a drop. May we give with grace and beauty.