A Warm Welcome
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9
“Who will hug everybody?”
That was one of the questions our friend Steve asked after he got the news that he had cancer and realized he would be away from our church for a while. Steve is the kind of man who makes everyone feel welcome—with a friendly greeting, a warm handshake, and even a “holy hug” for some—to adapt an application from Romans 16:16, which says, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
And now, as we pray for Steve that God will heal him, he is concerned that as he goes through surgery and treatment—and is away from our church for a time—we will miss out on those welcoming greetings.
Perhaps not all of us are cut out to greet one another as openly as Steve does, but his example of caring for people is a good reminder to us. Notice that Peter says to “offer hospitality to one another without grumbling,” or in a way that centers on love (1 Peter 4:9; see Philippians 2:14). While first-century hospitality included offering accommodations to travelers—even that always starts with a welcoming greeting.
As we interact with others in love, whether with a hug or just a friendly smile, we do so “that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11).
In 1 Peter 4, the apostle challenges the church to hospitality then reinforces that challenge with a call to service (vv. 10–11). In verse 10 he reminds believers that we’ve received gifts for that very purpose, and as we utilize those gifts in serving others we become expressions of God’s grace. It appears from these statements that Peter is giving his readers a glimpse into the realm of spiritual gifts about which Paul wrote in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12.
Spiritual gifts are the Holy Spirit’s provision for equipping followers of Jesus to help one another (1 Corinthians 12:7). While Paul offers a more extended list of these gifts, Peter compresses them into two basic categories: speaking gifts and serving gifts (1 Peter 4:11). Both provide support and resources for the kind of hospitality described in today’s devotional. As we encourage people with the Scriptures and help them by acts of service, the family of God is strengthened and the hurting are helped.
For more on spiritual service, check out the free download, The Church We Need.