The Love of Strangers
By Jill Briscoe
She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. ~ Acts 16:15 (NLT)
“Be my guests,” said Lydia to Paul and Silas. Lydia “urged” them—in other words, she wouldn’t take no for an answer. So Paul and Silas accepted her offer of gracious hospitality.
Hospitality has been defined as “the love of strangers,” and all through Christian history, the homes of believers have been the places where both strangers and friends have gathered for worship, friendship, healing, and help. Paul told the Roman Christians to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13); and Paul honored Gaius, a Roman whose hospitality he and the church enjoyed (Romans 16:23). On the island of Malta after a shipwreck, Publius “the chief official of the island,” welcomed Paul, Luke, and their companions to his home and fed them for three days (Acts 28:7). Paul healed Publius’s father while he was there, and a stream of blessing began on the island (Acts 28:8-10).
If nonbelievers, like Publius, and brand-new believers, like Lydia, welcomed strangers hospitably, then how much more should we, who have known the Lord for much longer, show hospitality? The problem often lies in western busyness and fractured, scattered families. The words, “Come and stay with me,” are seldom heard.
Over the years our home has been “a Lydia place.” The world has been invited into the heart of our family, and we have found, as Lydia undoubtedly did, that when we live in a home without walls, everyone benefits.
Lord, open my eyes and ears to the opportunities You give to practice hospitality. Slow down my life, and open my heart to those who need the kindness that I can offer. Amen.
Suggested Reading: Acts 16:11-15