God’s people should not live their lives as if nobody else matters. Rather, they should be ready to share both their homes and their possessions with other people.
The idea that God’s people should live like this is not new. In Genesis 18:1-8, we read how eagerly Abraham provided for three visitors to his home. Hebrews 13:2 says that, in this way, some people have even shown kindness to angels (God’s special servants).
In Romans 12:13, Paul mentions two particular groups of people that Christians should be especially eager to help.
(1) The first group is called the ‘saints’ in some translations. That word means God’s holy people, in other words, other Christians. Every genuine Christian is holy, because of his relationship with God. Therefore, God will reward anyone who helps one of them (Mark 9:41). God accepts such acts of kindness as if they were for God himself (Matthew 25:40).
(2) The second group does not appear clearly in many translations. Those translations mention ‘hospitality’, which often means kindness to a guest. However, Paul’s original word in the Greek language means: ‘Show love to strangers’. A stranger is someone whom we do not know, especially someone from another country. That was an especially important instruction for Rome’s Christians, to whom Paul was writing. Many people travelled to Rome, and their journeys were very dangerous (2 Corinthians 11:26-27). They might arrive in Rome in a desperate situation, without any friends or family there who could help them. So God’s people, who are themselves living as strangers in this world (Hebrews 11:13-16), have a special duty to help them (compare Deuteronomy 10:19).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.