Paul says one of the best ways to set a good example is through hospitality. The word comes from a combination of two Greeks words; Philos, which means love. Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love because that’s what the name means. The other word is Xenos, which is usually translated as stranger. You probably already know that when Jesus gave us his “new commandment” he said it really wasn’t a new commandment. He was quoting from the Old Testament when he told the religious leaders that the greatest commandment was to first love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Hospitality to the stranger is also an Old Testament principle. Paul is drawing this principle from Leviticus 19:34 which says, “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.”

In today’s culture we think of “entertaining” as hospitality. Karen Maines has pointed out that entertainment and hospitality are two different kinds of events. Writing in Moody magazine, she observes four important contrasts. First, entertaining says, “I want to impress you with my home, my clever decorating, my gourmet cooking.” Hospitality, seeking to minister, says, “This home is a gift from my Master. I use it as He desires.…” Hospitality aims to serve. Second, entertainment subtly declares, “This home is mine, an expression of my personality. Look, please, and admire.” Hospitality whispers, “What is mine is yours.” Third, entertaining looks for a payment—the words, “My, isn’t she a remarkable hostess.…” With no thought of reward, hospitality takes pleasure in giving, doing, loving and serving. Finally, the model for entertaining is the slick women’s magazines with their alluring pictures of foods and rooms. The model for hospitality is the Word of God. Christ sanctifies our simple fare and makes it holy, useful.

In our fast food culture where time is our scarcest resource, it’s difficult to sacrifice it to be hospitable to the stranger. Hospitality takes time! We visited a small country Church about 80 miles east of Dallas with only about 25 people in attendance. We were invited to dinner by just about every one of them. They did it with such enthusiasm that we’ve never forgotten it. That was leadership by example!

“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9