Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
In Romans 12, Paul described what genuine love does. He said true love pursues unity, prefers others, persists, and perseveres. There is one more aspect of true love that we will look at today.
Genuine love practices generosity instead of selfishness. Paul wrote in Romans 12:13. “Contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Remember, in Paul’s day, there was no Social Security, no Medicare. Everybody was on his own. Although there is no command in the New Testament to meet all the material and physical needs of everyone, the Bible says we are to be concerned about the material and physical needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. James wrote, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (James 2:15-16). That is, if you see somebody who has a genuine need and you have the capability of meeting that need but say, “Brother, I will pray for you about that,” then that is not love. Genuine love meets the needs of other Christians.
Then Paul added this phrase: “Practicing hospitality.” That word “hospitality” comes from two Greek words that mean “pursuing strangers.” In Paul’s day, there were no motels for people to stay in. If somebody was traveling out of town and needed a place to stay, it was usually either too expensive or too dangerous to stay at an inn. So Paul was saying, “You ought to be open to Christians who are traveling through your city and do not have a place to stay. Open your home to them and meet their needs.” That is what Paul meant here: pursuing strangers, meeting their legitimate needs, and showing hospitality to brothers and sisters in Christ.
Not long ago, I preached at a pastors’ conference in Arizona. Afterward, one of the attendees came up to me and said, “I had the chance to visit your church several years ago. Do you know what impressed me most about your church? It wasn’t the preaching or the music. What impressed me was that as I was getting ready to leave after the service, a couple approached me and asked if I had anywhere to go to lunch. I said no. They said, ‘Would you come with us? We would like to take you to lunch.’ I have never forgotten that.” That is the kind of hospitality Paul was talking about.
When people talk about First Baptist Church of Dallas, I hope the first thing they say about us is not, “What a beautiful campus they have.” Or, “They know so much about the Bible.” Or, “They have such a tremendous outreach.” Those are all true, but the best thing they could say about our church–and any church–is this: “Oh, how they love one another.” Isn’t that what Jesus said? “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “True Love Never Waits” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.