Being hospitable

In 2 Kings 4, we see hospitality in action through the activities of the couple in Shunem — a blessing I’m sure was received with gladness by Elisha. May it remind us that such acts of hospitality are encouraged throughout the bible.

On top of 2 Kgs 4:8-10, other bible verses about hospitality include the following:

Lev 19:10 And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.

Job 31:32 The sojourner has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveller.

1 Tim 3:2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

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

From 2 Kgs 4, we observe a few principles that I trust we can put into practice now and hone especially as we get our feet wet for Henderson.

Firstly, we notice that the wealth of this couple spurred them to think of others and not just indulge themselves. Perhaps they understood that they were stewards of the wealth they had received. Let’s encourage each other with reminders that when we have been given more, we should endeavour to increase our hospitality.

Secondly, because the Shunammite couple did not hold their wealth with closed hands, they were on a lookout for ways in which they could show hospitality. They noticed Elisha coming by frequently and so were prepared not only to offer him food but lodging as well. I’m sure this will also happen with us. When we become more sensitive to the needs around us, we will discover many areas of hospitality we can participate in.

Thirdly, the couple modelled detailed generosity. The writer of 2 Kings notes that they prepared a ‘small room on the roof with walls and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp’. Of course God does not expect us to provide what we cannot afford, but loving hospitality means being detailed within our means. And if Gehazi accompanied Elisha, then they were generous in extending their hospitality to the two of them.

Finally, we see that their hospitality was truly without any strings. Though the wife realised that Elisha was a holy man of God (v9), when Elisha asked if he could do something for her, she answered in v13, “I dwell among my own people”. She meant that she had all the resources she needed. They had thus been offering Elisha hospitality out of the goodness of their hearts. 

With the opening up of social restrictions, can we begin to practice more frequent acts of hospitality? May this culture mature in Hermon so that it can be a blessing to those God will bring into our midst when we transit to Henderson.

Apart from that, it seems in recent weeks, there are hospitality related discussions in our society as well. I’m referring to the debates on the issue of our FTAs and whether they have taken away the jobs of Singaporeans. I know this is an emotive issue and definitely a complex one. But for us believers, regardless of the side you are on, may Scripture guide us in the way we relate to everyone in society, whether they be Singaporeans or not. May we be guided by the principle found in:

Lev 19:34 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.

May we show hospitality not just towards believers but to foreigners as well. Let us encourage one another in building a culture of hospitality rooted in the Christian faith, and may we be catalysts for change in society.

– Ps Daniel Tan