Hospitality Part 2: Hospitality Has Its Limits

That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.”  “Oh no,” they replied. “We’ll just spend the night out here in the city square.” But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate.Genesis 19:1-3, NLT


This episode illustrates the same culture of hospitality that Abraham practiced, but the details demonstrate that ancient courtesy was not absolute.  Lot expected the travelers to return to the road on the next day, and early!

Today’s world is not the ancient world, and familes don’t have adequate resources to host in their own home the tide of immigrants that has flooded the the nations of our world.  Modern transportation–massive and rapid beyond precedent–and dramatic economic inequality have mixed the peoples of all nations in numbers that would have been unimaginable in previous times.

The lesson we can draw from the stories of Abraham and Lot is that churches and individuals ought to consider and pray about their responsibility and opportunity to minister to the immigrants they meet in their cities. Victims of natural disasters and other refugees have needs that are both more immediate and longer lasting that those of people who come under better conditions.

Immigrants who find themselves in need of first aid or emergency meals or perhaps, a simple smile or a kind word, deserve for their humanity to be recognized by the residents of every place in acts of hospitality.  As Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”

Those who are not angels should get busy quickly to avoid becoming a burden to their hosts.  Fortunately, the great majority of immigrants have come with a great desire to work!

Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.  All rights reserved.

Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University en Kirkland, Washington.  He is the author of Your Deepest Dream:  Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net:  Learning to Network Like Jesus.  Follow him on  Twitter @DrCastleberry and at



Acerca de Joseph Castleberry

A missionary to Latin America for 20 years, I currently serve as president of Northwest University in Kirkland, WA. I am the author of Your Deepest Dream (NavPress, 2012); The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus (Influence Resources, 2013), and The New Pilgrims: How Immigrants are Renewing America's Faith and Values.
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