They refreshed my spirit and yours also. 1 Corinthians 16:18
My trip to Simon’s house was unforgettable. Under the cover of a starlit sky in Nyahururu, Kenya, we made our way to his modest home for dinner. The dirt floor and the lantern light reflected Simon’s limited means. What was on the menu, I don’t recall. What I can’t forget was Simon’s joy that we were his guests. His gracious hospitality was Jesus like—selfless, life-touching, and refreshing.
In 1 Corinthians 16:15–18, Paul mentioned a family—the household of Stephanas (v. 15)—who had a reputation for their caregiving. They’d “devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people” (v. 15). While their service likely included tangible things (v. 17), the impact was such that Paul wrote, “they refreshed my spirit and yours also” (v. 18).
When we have opportunities to share with others, we rightly give attention to matters of food, setting, and other things that are fitting for such occasions. But we sometimes forget that although “the what” and “the where” matter, they’re not the most important things. Memorable meals are great and pleasant settings have their place, but food is limited in its capacity to fully nourish and encourage. True refreshment flows from God and is a matter of the heart; it reaches the hearts of others, and it continues to nourish long after the meal is over.
What occasions stand out where you were memorably refreshed by the hospitality or welcome of others? How can you change the way you serve others to make such occasions more spiritually meaningful?
Father, forgive me for the times I’ve made welcoming others more about me than those I seek to serve. Help me to extend myself in ways that truly refresh others.
In the conclusion of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul reemphasized a central theme of his message to them—to “do everything in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). One example of what love looks like in action is found in the service of the household of Stephanas, the “first converts in Achaia” (v. 15), who were also baptized by Paul (1:16). Stephanas and his companions had come to Paul delivering a letter from the Corinthians along with an update on the church, and they were also likely the ones to deliver this return letter from Paul. By pointing to Stephanas and his companions’ character as examples of love—“devoted . . . to the service of the Lord’s people” (16:15), Paul could help ensure they’d be received with welcome and respect (vv. 16–18).