Love Is Hospitality

Hospitality takes people as they are and brings them to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 3:1-2


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, dear radio friends. How in the world are you? And I use those words advisedly when I say “dear” and “friends,” because God has bound you very close to my heart. Many of you who… I’ve never seen you, but boy, we’re together in heart, and in prayer, and in interest in the Word of God, and obeying our blessed Lord, aren’t we? And of course, I give myself away in these broadcasts day by day, so that people on whom I’ve never laid eyes walk up to me in a meeting and say, “I know you.” And I guess they do. That’s great. I like it. I like to belong to people who belong to Jesus. Thanks for being there. Yes, this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back with you again to look at the Word of God.

We’re studying 1 Timothy, verse by verse. We’ve gotten into chapter 3 now. Looking at the qualifications for pastoral work, or, to broaden the base a little, Christian leadership of any kind.

“Blameless.” That has to do with the fact that you are not the victim of anyone’s real accusation. No one can find anything to accuse in you. That’s the real meaning of the Greek word there. Blameless. Can’t get hold of him, can’t pin anything on him. That’s the idea. That’s a good reputation, isn’t it? A good home, a “husband with one wife,” “vigilant” and “sober.” That is a person who has a saved mind and is in control of the Holy Spirit of God. “Good behavior.” That has to do with courtesy and all of the good habits that make it a joy to live and work with you.

“Given to hospitality.” That’s the thing that we came up to now, the last time we got together. “Given to hospitality” is one word, which means “a lover of friends” or “friendship.” How are you at this matter of hospitality? Peter said in his epistle: “use hospitality.”

The founder of the YMCA said, “Don’t argue with the young man, invite him to supper and win him to Jesus.” Our Lord Jesus – before he dealt with Peter’s failures – fed him, as Warren Wiersbe pointed out the other day in my hearing. I listen to him as often as I can, and he said that our Lord so tenderly took care of Peter’s physical needs before He operated on his spiritual needs.

Hospitality oftentimes can mean an open door for the gospel. Bob Pierce, now with the Lord for several years, used to say, “You have to deserve a hearing for the gospel.” And so he would get boatloads of rice and other foodstuffs and take them over to crisis areas of the world, as, for example, in Korea. And there he would give out those things that would keep body and soul together, and then he would, with his co-workers, by the hundreds, preach the gospel to these dear people. You have to deserve a hearing. Certainly is true with leadership, isn’t it? You can’t demand leadership, you have to deserve it.

Hospitality oftentimes opens the door to people’s hearts. I have a dear preacher friend who is… Well, he has a wry sense of humor, but he is an inveterate soul-winner, and he told me the following story. He said that he and his wife moved into an apartment building in an eastern city, the superintendent of which was a lady, and you have to use the term loosely there – she was more of a rough and tumble kind of person, streetwise and suspicious of almost everyone. But there she was, the superintendent of the apartment building, obviously without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. To judge from her language or her behavior or her attitude, you knew that she didn’t have any time for our Lord. Now, my brother determined that he somehow was gonna win her to the Lord.

There was another couple in the apartment building who were Christians. He called them up and said, “I want to invite the superintendent of our apartment building to dinner, and I want you to come along as well. Now, I wanna see if we can win her for the Lord, but I have one request to make of you.” “Oh,” they said, “What’s that?” “My one request is that you not utter one word about religion or salvation or the gospel. Don’t bring it up. Do you promise?” “Yes,” they said. They’d promise. So the occasion came, the lady arrived, the neighbors arrived, and they had a very nice dinner occasion. She was quite nervous at first, and then as the talk centered around matters other than religious subjects, she seemed to relax. Toward the end of the evening, just as she was turning to go, she said to my preacher friend, she said, “You know, I wish I could talk to you about God.” She said, “I’ve often wished that I knew God.” That then opened the door for a conversation about the Lord Jesus Christ and resulted in the salvation of that dear woman.

Now, there are different circumstances. I make it a point to follow the advice of Dr. Turnbull. Trumbull, I should say. Turnbull was a great leader in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, but before him was Dr. Trumbull, who wrote a book called “Taking Men Alive.” It’s out of print now and I don’t believe you can get it anywhere. But I have read it with great profit, and he said the following, “Whenever I am justified in choosing the subject of the conversation I will endeavor to speak of my Lord and, if possible, to win my friend to Christ.” “Whenever I am justified in choosing the subject of the conversation.”

He gave as an illustration the fact that he was on an ocean journey, and the ship ran into very rough weather. The Captain was on the bridge 24 hours at a time, taking charge of the heaving vessel and steering a straight course through those billowing waters. And, Dr. Trumbull observed, “Had I gone up on the bridge and tried to talk to him about his soul, this profane Captain certainly would have ordered me out.” Later however, after the storm abated and they were on their way across the Atlantic, he was invited to sit at the Captain’s table. And sitting there, what do you think? The Captain himself opened the subject of salvation. What a difference. So you wait for God’s provision for your approach with the Gospel.

Well, the point we were making was that true hospitality welcomes people as they are. Our Lord Jesus met with Matthew’s friends. What were they? Publicans and sinners. Publicans were tax collectors, considered the scum of the Earth by their fellow Israelites. “Sinners” is a polite word for people who were immoral. And so there they were, a motley crew rejected by society, but the Lord Jesus went and had dinner with them because he wanted to win them to himself. Hospitality, in a Christian sense, accepts people as they are, so that the Lord Jesus Christ can become attractive to them as you model Him and portray Him, and as He speaks through you by His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Bob Jacks, who is a member of the Trustees of the college, has written a book called “Your Home A Lighthouse,” and in it he reminds people that you don’t try to control the folk who come to your home to study the Bible. Some of them may not be very religious, and they may not act very Christian. But you don’t try to reform them. You try to win them. There’s a good deal of difference there, that’s for sure.

Many years ago – I think it would have been 1962 now – shortly after I came to the college, Bill Miller, who was then Chairman of the Board of Trustees… He’s now with the Lord a number of years, precious man of God who just devoted his whole life to the college. He was interested, however, in evangelism, and he invited me to a meeting in a very rich home where people were gathered to study the Word of God. Well, I came in and settled down in my chair in the corner, and the meeting went on. But here was a man with a cocktail, here was a lady smoking a cigarette, here was somebody else that lit up a cigar. It wasn’t actually a very Christian-looking meeting – you know what I mean? But these people were there, not to be reformed and not to be scolded about their habits; good, bad, or otherwise. They were there to hear the Word of God, and hear they did, and respond they did.

See, there’s the difference. Hospitality takes people as they are and brings them to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Given to hospitality.” Paul says, of some people in his experience, that they were addicted to the ministry of the saints. They had simply tied themselves to the idea of helping other people. Given to hospitality. Now what is your attitude toward all this?

There used to be a lady in Wheaton, I remember someone talking about her. She was a very gracious lady, and she and her husband did many kind things for Christian work, believe me. But someone remarked about her, “You don’t just call on her. You have to have an invitation. And when she invites you, she does things right, but you don’t ever drop in on her.” Well, this matter of “given to hospitality” doesn’t mean “let your house be like Grand Central Station.” You have a right to your own space and your own privacy, but you also have a right and a God-given duty to open your heart and your home to people whom you wanna win to the Lord Jesus Christ. You see the difference?

I visited in a home in Florida many years ago, where it was exactly like Grand Central Station. There wasn’t a moment of privacy. This man and his several children were constantly besieged by people coming and going. They had set it up that way actually, or he had. I don’t think his wife appreciated it all that much. But he had set it up that way so that young people and grownups as well were constantly barging in without saying, “May I come in?” or whatever. They just came in. And there were people in the living room, and people in the dining room, and people in the kitchen, and people on the patio, and people by the front door, and people out back. I was amazed. And I said to him, “How does this work with your home?” “Oh,” he says, “It’s alright, we’re ministering to these folk.” “Well,” I said, “Is this a special day? Do they come just this day?” “Oh, no,” he said. “It’s that way every day of the week.”

Well, I have to tell you that that man left his wife, and the home broke up after awhile. And I don’t know whether the cause of it was that frantic Grand Central Station atmosphere in the home. But I can guarantee you that that kind of an atmosphere didn’t help the home situation any. You keep your own privacy, and you keep your home intact, and you pay the best of attention to your wife and children, but do open your heart and do open your home to other people so you can win them to Jesus Christ. Good idea?

Dear Father today, oh may we open our hearts and our homes for people so that we can win them to Jesus. I ask in His name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the king today and be a blessing!

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