Christianity 201

March 26, 2015

The Command to Hospitality

Today we return to Gathering Rubies, the blog of Janice Garrison. Click the title below to read this at source.

hospitalityLove of Strangers

HOSPITALITY, host, love of strangers, guest, friend, innkeeper
(from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)

For much of my life I believe I misunderstood the word hospitality. I understood it to mean inviting someone into my home and perhaps sharing a meal and spending an enjoyable time with them. The them however, was always someone I already knew. I didn’t grasp that it was to be a stranger.

Over the years as I have examined hospitality closer, I realize, as an extrovert, I’ve been practicing hospitality most of my life. I’ve always loved being with people, sharing things and sharing my life story. I am usually a cheering section for the underdog. Growing up, I was the underdog. Being second, hopefully, means someone else is first, or someone is being served.

Being an extrovert is not realizing people I haven’t been introduced to are strangers. Extroverts don’t look at many people as strangers. I may view some people as strange, yet rarely as a stranger. Many times I have unwittingly made my husband, who by his own admission is an introvert, cringe, as I strike up random conversations with people I’ve never seen before. I laugh and call it my ‘gift’. So far, my gift hasn’t gotten me into trouble. Most people are willing to share in conversation, even if it’s brief.

If we don’t share our journey, no matter how painful, how can we encourage and enrich others who have had similar experiences. I read of a good example recently from an article, The Place Along the Way, by Marie Loewen. She spoke of hurriedly making dinner, chopping vegetables, and tearing lettuce for salad and throwing the trimmings in the garbage. Her daughter, who was a gardener, reminded her that the trimmings were the stuff of precious compost. How could she grow a good garden if her mother persisted in throwing away just what she needed to enrich the soil? She realized her daughter was absolutely right, saying the parts of our lives that we would hurriedly discard, the pain we would deem garbage, is exactly what can become the compost that enriches the soil of our lives.

Scripture is full of examples of hospitality, to traveling strangers, washing of feet, to the fatherless and widows, at banquets and feasts. Hospitality involves loving and doing for others, strangers and non-strangers.

Rom 12:13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Rom 12:16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Heb 13:1-2 Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

1 Peter 4:9-11 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  (This is one of my favorites), have you ever considered that we can administer God’s grace in it various forms. I remember the first time that was pointed out to me in bible class. It impacted me greatly.

And finally, John 13:20 I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

There are many more scriptures on hospitality.

I love this from Rachael Crabb:  “Don’t make it complicated. Hospitality consists essentially of a relationship, where one person gives to another, that which is alive in his or her heart because of Christ.”

Now go out and love a stranger!


Go Deeper: 21 Bible Passages on Hospitality.

March 9, 2015

Discernment Versus Judgmentalism

One short article, and an excerpt from a longer one:

What is the difference between discernment and being judgmental?

 It is important to understand the difference between being judgmental and discerning truth from error. In Matt. 7:1, the Lord said, “Do not judge lest you be judged.” Then, in verses 2-5 he warns against trying to correct others without first correcting what is wrong in our own lives. If we deal honestly deal with our own hearts, etc., then we have the responsibility to help others. But there is also a warning in verse 6. He said, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine” (vs. 6). How can we know that someone, in their spiritual condition, is like a dog or a pig (i.e., someone who is incapable of appreciating the truth—apathetic, cold, indifferent), unless you judge, discern their character or their spiritual condition?

This passage does not teach that judgments should never be made. In fact, Matthew 7:5 specifically speaks of removing the speck from your brother’s eye. But the Lord’s point is that no one is qualified nor able to do that if they are habitually critical or condemnatory of the specks in someone else’s eye when they themselves have a plank—a hyperbole for effect—in their own eye. Such are not truly interested in righteousness, only in playing spiritual king of the mountain.

So, as in selecting elders and deacons for office (1 Tim. 3), judgment is sometimes needed, but those making the distinctions (krino„, judge, means “to distinguish” and thus “to decide”) must first be certain of their own lives and their motives. We need to ask questions like, Am I doing this to show how much I know? Am I trying to play spiritual king of the mountain? Do I think I am better than they are because I know something they do not know? These are some of the logs that we must remove from our own eyes (hearts). We are not judging people when we discern behavior or beliefs that are clearly unbiblical. For an excellent passage on having a judgmental spirit versus a discerning spirit, read Paul’s teaching on the problem of doubtful or questionable things in Romans 14.

Furthermore when seeking to help others, we must exercise care to discern their spiritual appetites and do what would be appreciated and beneficial. We need to test the waters, so to speak. Ask a question in a non-threatening way to see if they might be open to discussion. “Would you be interested in what the Bible has to say about astrology?” We do this because one should never entrust holy things (what is sacred) to unholy people (dogs; cf. “dogs” in Phil. 3:2) or throw … pearls to pigs. Dogs and pigs were despised in those days. This is one of the reasons the Lord spoke in parables. He did so to hide truth from the indifferent and to reveal it to those who were hungry and prepared.

Finally, remember that the ultimate issue is not seeking to get people to change their behavior, but come to know and believe in Christ. This includes biblical repentance, but in a salvation context, that means recognizing their sinful condition and need and turning from their sources of trust (religion, human will power, cultism, astrology, etc.) to trust in Jesus and His death for their sin. It does not mean cleaning up their lives and then trusting in Christ. Only Christ can change lives in a way that is significant.

For this one complete, you need to click the header below; this is just a representative sample of three general paragraphs, but the article distinguishes between judging non-believers versus judging fellow-Christians:

Does the Bible Tell Christians to Judge Not?

…As Christians, we should be living godly lives so that we can first concentrate on our own repentance of sin. Sanctification is a lifelong process of being transformed every day into the image of Christ. Without this, we have no place in helping another brother or sister. What Christ teaches His believers in Matthew 7 is that if we ourselves are not personally repenting of our sins, we are in no place to tell others how sinful they are acting. But the Bible does tell us to preach the gospel—and part of the gospel message is that people are sinners in need of salvation…

…Are we being loving if we allow our fellow brethren to remain in error and even deceive others? Of course not. Loving others requires that we graciously correct them when they fall into error (Matthew 18; 1 Corinthians 1:11; Galatians 6:1). Those who err do not necessarily know they are in error; they are possibly  deceived or ignorant. So we gently and carefully correct the error in regard to teaching, no matter what the situation. After all, this is one of the responsibilities of the church: to teach sound doctrine and correct erroneous teaching (2 Timothy 2:25, 3:16; Titus 2:1). For example, we have to use discernment (judging between right and wrong) if we are to obey verses like 1 Corinthians 5:11–13; 6:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:20; and Titus 3:9, just to name a few…

…Those people who call for tolerance and quote “judge not” out of context are not using sound thinking. Their call for tolerance is impossible because as Christians, we are called to judge righteously, and judging between right and wrong is something we do every day—and it should be a part of biblical discernment in every believer’s thinking. But it is God’s Word that makes the judgment on morality and truth, not our own opinions or theories…


Every once in awhile we encounter articles that won’t fit here due to length, but which we think C201 readers might have some interest. Today we have two for you:

  • From Genesis 3’s garden narrative to being “clothed with the righteousness of Christ” this article covers (no pun intended) it all. Check out A Biblical Theology of Clothing.
  • Who did Jesus have in mind in Matthew 25, when he spoke of “the least of these?” This article focuses on how scholars view this passage, and it is a different result than what we pick up from casual reading. Check out What You Probably Don’t Know About ‘The Least of These.’

November 20, 2014

Jesus: “Be Me”

John 15:9-12

The Message (MSG)

9-10“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

11-15“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

God's RepresentativeYou’ve just been hired as a manufacturer’s representative. The manufacturer in this case manufactured the earth, the universe and all that it is in them. Then he appoints you, a part of that creation to represent Him on earth to the rest of creation. That’s hard to take in. A few years ago my wife Ruth wrote this to be read at a church plant she was doing in a place where representing God, representing Christ, would not be easy. But is it any easier where you are? Where I am?

Look at the example I have set in how I’ve loved you and all of the others and follow my example.

Follow my example. Love the world.

Be Me to the world.

Be Me to your neighbors.

The woman across the road, the guy who lives downstairs.

The kids who play on your lawn.

Be Me to the vulnerable, the hungry, the oppressed.

Be Me to the poor, the cold, the homeless, the lost.

Be Me to the rich, the insulated, the sheltered, the lost.

Be Me to the fearful, the sick, the lonely, the isolated, the recovering.

To the educated, to the street-smart, to the foolish.

To the bruised, the bleeding, the calloused, the rough, the tough, the abrasive.

Be Me to the stubborn, the unappreciative, the ungrateful, the dismissive.

To the takers.

To the users.

To the ones who have raised themselves up, the ones who have made themselves as small as possible or who have been made small.

Be Me to the almost there, the almost gone.

To the empty, the misunderstanding, the suspicious, the condescending.

Be Me to the ones whose backs are toward you, the ones whose heads are bowed, the ones whose chins are held high.

Be Me to the uninterested, the undesiring, to the undeserving.

To the shackled, to the free.

Be Me the way I have been Me to you.

Be Me.

You have no right not to be.

~Ruth Wilkinson

November 1, 2011

“Look at Me”

John 15:9-12

The Message (MSG)

 9-10“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

 11-15“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

Look at the example I have set in how I’ve loved you and all of the others and follow my example.

Follow my example. Love the world.

Be Me to the world.

Be Me to your neighbors.

The woman across the road, the guy who lives downstairs.

The kids who play on your lawn.

Be Me to the vulnerable, the hungry, the oppressed.

Be Me to the poor, the cold, the homeless, the lost.

Be Me to the rich, the insulated, the sheltered, the lost.

Be Me to the fearful, the sick, the lonely, the isolated, the recovering.

To the educated, to the street-smart, to the foolish.

To the bruised, the bleeding, the calloused, the rough, the tough, the abrasive.

Be Me to the stubborn, the unappreciative, the ungrateful, the dismissive.

To the takers.

To the users.

To the ones who have raised themselves up, the ones who have made themselves as small as possible or who have been made small.

Be Me to the almost there, the almost gone.

To the empty, the misunderstanding, the suspicious, the condescending.

Be Me to the ones whose backs are toward you, the ones whose heads are bowed, the ones whose chins are held high.

Be Me to the uninterested, the undesiring, to the undeserving.

To the shackled, to the free.

Be Me the way I have been Me to you.

Be Me.

You have no right not to be.

~Ruth Wilkinson