"Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9
Positives of Hospitality
God Commands It
In 1 Peter 4:8, 9 we are commanded to love one another and be hospitable to one another. If God commands us to practice hospitality, then we must resolve to do this, even if it is unnatural for us. While we may place potential elders under close scrutiny on this issue, we must remember that Romans 12:13 exhorts all Christians to be "given to hospitality."
The New Testament repeatedly urges saints to "be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love (Romans 12:10)" and develop a close-knit unity (Ephesians 4:1-3; Philippians 2:1-4). Though this affection and unity must involve more than spending social time together, a group that is hospitable to one another is a group that will be drawn closer together. If there is someone or some family you have never gotten to know, try inviting them over for a meal or light refreshments.
Assists the Needy
In Romans 12:13 the admonition to practice hospitality comes immediately after the exhortation to assist needy saints. Think of the difference it might make to a struggling family if they were helped with just two or three meals a week. Such hospitality would help with the grocery bill and likely lift their spirits also.
Benefits Your Children
While evil company corrupts good habits (1 Corinthians 15:33), parents should strive to expose their children to as much good company as possible. Paul once urged the Philippians to take note of those walking by heaven's direction and use them as an example (Philippians 3:17). Our children are subjected to enough bad influences in this world, why not put forth a greater effort to expose them to people who will be a positive influence on them?
Negatives of Hospitality
That Peter would caution against grumbling in the exercise of hospitality reminds us that there are some negatives we must overcome. Consider the following negatives and how we can overcome them.
Food can be expensive and it will be some additional expense to invite another family over, but the expense need not stop us. First, one should not feel it is necessary to prepare elaborate meals requiring expensive ingredients. Unless you are doing it to help a needy family, the association together is more important than the meal anyway. If money is really an issue (and it is for some), just ask folks to come over for a cup of coffee (or tea or cola). Second, while the cost of hospitality is a genuine concern for some, some who "can't afford" to have another family over for dinner frequently dine out. With proper planning you can easily feed two families for what you would spend at a nice restaurant feeding only your own family.
For most families there is some extra work involved in hospitality. Since the association together is more important than the meal we should not feel the need to go overboard with elaborate preparations, but we may want the house to be a little cleaner, have the table set a little nicer, make the meal a little above average, etc. Preparations of this nature do involve a little extra work, but the rewards are worth it. Go back and read the positives; hospitality accomplishes enough good to make it worth the effort.
Damage to Your House
Unfortunately, there are times when things get broken or food and drink are spilled on carpets. To minimize this, I would appeal to all of us to be good guests when we are the recipients of hospitality. Use the kind of care and restraint for yourself and your children that love demands. Be a "Golden Rule" guest. But even the most careful guest sometimes has an accident and we must then remind ourselves that our houses and furnishings are but tools, intended for use in serving God. If and when an accident occurs I must learn to simply count it as one of the costs involved in discharging my duty to God and my fellow-man.
Some get turned off from the practice of hospitality by having the misfortune of entertaining a few ungrateful guests who take advantage of them without appreciating them. While the ungrateful do exist and I do not offer any excuse for them (they should be ashamed of themselves), I would encourage any who have encountered this problem to keep trying. While a few ingrates have put their feet under my table, the overwhelming majority of guests have been genuinely appreciative and made us glad we had them in our home.
Let's be reminded again: "Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:9