In Romans, Paul exhorts the Christians to give to the needs of the saints and to be given to hospitality (12:13). I want to point out that God is already blessing us richly in this area (and yesterday’s wedding was a prime example of that), but I want to encourage you to do so more and more. We are not merely to “give” to the needs of the saints, but the word means to “fellowship in” or “share in” the needs of the saints. The word “hospitality” literally means the “love of strangers.” We are to share the needs of the saints and be given to loving foreigners and strangers. The word “given to” is actually from the root word which means to persecute. Think about Paul in the early chapters of Acts persecuting the Christians traveling from city to city looking for Christians. That’s how Christians should be toward loving strangers and foreigners. Christians should be constantly looking to help and serve the saints but also pursuing the strangers and foreigners in our midst. This means of course that we should look for opportunities to love those outside of the faith, but we should also remember that there are many literal foreigners and strangers in our cities. The upstate has an enormous Hispanic population in particular; these are strangers and foreigners. Paul says that you should be out finding ways to love them. When there are visitors in worship, there should be a stampede of God’s people inviting them for lunch, dinner, and finding out if there are other ways to love them. Of course I do not mean that you should be rude or overwhelming, but your temptation is to assume that someone else has already invited them, already spoken to them. A refusal to share in the needs of the saints or to show love to foreigners and strangers is a rejection of the gospel. When you were strangers and aliens, wandering far from the kindness of God, when you were illegal immigrants in this world that belongs to the Triune God, and you deserved nothing but the wrath and curse of God, Jesus died for you, forgave your sins, and seated you at his table. Therefore go and do likewise.
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