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Hospitality: Scripture Readings

Genesis 18:1-8—Three Visitors

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.


Consider the following questions:

  • This passage is the first reference in the Bible to someone opening their home to others. How do Abraham’s actions set the tone for hospitality? What adjectives might you use to describe his welcome of the three strangers?
  • Have you ever been on the receiving end of lavish and heartfelt hospitality? What was it like? How did it make you feel?
  • Subsequent verses make it clear that Abraham was being visited by the Lord. How would you react if you answered the call of your doorbell and found Jesus waiting there? Spend a few minutes imagining this scenario.
  • What is your gut reaction when your doorbell rings unexpectedly? Anticipation? Annoyance? Fear? Why do you think that is? What might it mean with regard to hospitality?

Leviticus 19:33-34 (ESV)—Loving the stranger

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”


Consider these questions:

  • Leviticus 19 is full of commands for how to be holy. One of those commands is to love strangers (in this case people who are from other lands) as you love yourself. Search your heart. How do you live out this command?
  • Think of someone you know who lives (or lived) out this command well. How does/did he or she express love for foreigners? What was the result?
  • Have you ever been a foreigner in another country? How did it feel? What was wonderful or exciting about it? What was uncomfortable or scary about it? Did anyone make you feel especially welcome? How?
  • What are some ways that you, your family, your church, your wider community, and your nation could love people from other lands as yourself?

Luke 14:12-14 (ESV)—Rethinking the guest list

“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”


Consider the following questions:

  • In this story, Jesus encourages us to offer hospitality to people who can not repay us. In your unique context, whom might that be? How might you offer food, shelter, and protection to them?
  • Read the short article I Invited Complete Strangers over for Dinner, and This Is What Happened by Gabie Rudyte. What do you think of Gabie’s experience? Would you ever do something like this? Why or why not?
  • How is a “feast” different from a meal or a donation of food? For ideas, watch the film Babette’s Feast.
  • These resources are being released during the COVID-19 pandemic. How might we offer hospitality to “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40), even in a time of physical distancing?

Luke 10:38-42—Martha and Mary

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


Consider the following questions:

  • Do you identify more with Martha or with Mary? Why?
  • In 1 Peter 4:9 we read, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” While Martha was providing the important physical components of hospitality, she was feeling anxiety and resentment rather than joy, and she was spreading that feeling to others. Does offering hospitality ever cause you stress that you pass along to others? Why or why not? What might you do to experience more joy in providing hospitality?
  • What do you think Jesus meant by saying “Few things are needed—or indeed only one”?
  • Read the article How Is Christian Hospitality Different from Entertaining? by Jen Schmidt. What strikes you about these insights?