God with Skin On
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
My husband left for a month-long trip, and almost immediately I was overwhelmed by the needs of my job, our house, and our children. A writing deadline loomed. The lawn mower broke. My children were on school break and bored. How would I take care of all of these things on my own?
I soon realized I wasn’t on my own. Friends from church showed up to help. Josh came over to fix my lawn mower. John brought me lunch. Cassidy helped with the laundry. Abi invited my kids over to play with hers so I could get my work done. God worked through each of these friends to provide for me. They were a living picture of the kind of community Paul describes in Romans 12. They loved sincerely (v. 9), considered the needs of others rather than just their own (v. 10), shared with me when I was in need, and showed hospitality (v. 13).
Because of the love my friends showed to me, I remained “joyful in hope” and “patient in affliction” (v. 12), even the mild affliction of solo parenting for a month. My brothers and sisters in Christ became what one friend calls “God with skin on” for me. They showed me the kind of sincere love we ought to show to everyone, especially those in our community of faith (Galatians 6:10). I hope to be more like them.
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The practice of hospitality is a key teaching in the New Testament. Jesus told His disciples to depend on the hospitality of those they ministered to (Matthew 10:11; Luke 10:7–8). Jesus also received hospitality from others (Mark 2:15; 14:3; Luke 7:36). Mary and Martha opened their home to Jesus (Luke 10:38), and this is probably where He stayed each time He came to Jerusalem (see Matthew 21:17). Luke mentioned a group of women who “were helping to support [Jesus and the twelve disciples] out of their own means” (Luke 8:3). The apostle John commended Gaius for his cheerful generosity and loving hospitality because he provided itinerant Bible teachers a place to stay (3 John 1:5–8).
When we lovingly support ministry workers in practical ways, we are their partners in ministry (v. 8). Therefore, Paul urges us, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13