“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2
This verse has always puzzled me: should I really suspect my dinner guests of being angels in disguise? And do I have to entertain them unawares?
If a heavenly being who spends eternal days worshiping in the presence of the Holy God is coming to dinner, I’d like to know. I don’t want them tripping over the toy helicopter the hallway or eating undercooked Chicken Kiev.
I used to play my own little version of “Who’s the Angel?”, studying the strangers who come to my house. (It’s easy to rule out the people you know—they couldn’t possibly be angels!) But is it the missionary or maybe the visitor from another country? Or do angels come disguised as the hyper toddler who bangs the piano and tracks crumbs on my carpet?
But the author of Hebrews “was not promoting hospitality on the chance that one might ‘luck out’ and get an angel” explains Kent Hughes. Our prospects are no less exciting, though: “He is assuring [us] that some of [our] visitors will prove to be true messengers of God to [us], bringing a greater blessing than they receive” (F.F. Bruce).
So often we focus on the work it takes to invite, prepare, and serve others through hospitality, and we forget to look for God at work! But our gracious Savior delights to send an extravagant “hostess gift”: His messengers!
Think about it: how many times have you been encouraged in your faith or inspired to grow in godliness by one of your guests? How often have you experienced sweet fellowship or hearty laughter or comfort and care in trial? Have you ever see the power of God at work in someone’s life or experienced His provision for you as the result of hospitality? I know I have, many times.
“Hospitality often results in unexpected blessing and reward,” Alexander Strauch reminds us. So let us not neglect hospitality, my friends, but be eager to extend God’s love to others. We never know what blessing God has in store for us!
—from the archives