LOVE OF HOSPITALITY
"Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Heb 13:1-2.
OUR TEXT refers to that memorable scene when Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent, probably inclined to slumber in the heat of noon. Suddenly he saw three men apparently waiting for alms and help. Plenty of travellers had come to his door before, seeking help and hospitality which he had given freely. But though the heat was great, though he may have been disappointed again and again in the recipients of his bounty, he felt it better to be disappointed a hundred times than to miss the chance of showing hospitality and welcome. Therefore he sprang to his feet, called to Sarah for help, and the two of them quickly ministered to the three unknown men. How thankful he must have been that he had not refused to entertain them, for two of them were angels, and the third was the Son of God!
In our crowded lives, where room is scarce, it is less easy for us to care for the people who may be cast as strangers amongst us, but there is a hospitality of the mind that we can all exercise, when we open our hearts to some story of sorrow. None of us are quite aware, except we have suffered in that way, how much it helps some people to be able to pour out their burdens and sorrows. It is much to have a hospitable mind, to have a sympathetic ear, and to make room in our heart for the story of human pain, sorrow, and loneliness, which some, who are comparative strangers, may want to confide in us. We may rebuke ourselves that our hearts do not more nearly represent the hostel or inn into which sad or weary souls may creep for shelter. Although you cannot say much, there may always be the open door of your heart where the lonely and desolate may enter and find in you a fire of sympathy, kindness, and good-will.
A CHANGED OCCUPATION
"He went forth, and beheld a publican, named Levi, sitting at the place of toll, and said unto him, Follow Me. And he forsook all, and rose up and followed Him."-- Luk 5:27-28.
THE TRADE between the Orient and the vast populations on the Mediterranean, passed through the Lake of Galilee, making a highly profitable trade for Capernaum, and the smaller cities and towns. The custom-house in which this man, Levi, held a lucrative position was probably quite near the lake, which was much frequented by our Lord, and thus he may have had opportunities of listening to His teaching. On the other hand, it is possible that the Saviour's summons to him was absolutely unexpected, though it elicited an instant response, for he rose up, left all, and followed Jesus. No doubt he returned later to make up his books, and hand in the balance that may have been in his charge.
Our Lord called him Matthew--which means "a gift." He was a great addition to the band of disciples, and the gift of his Gospel to the Church has made the whole world his debtor. Matthew conceals, with beautiful modesty, the fact that he prepared a great feast for the Master, which was perhaps partly to signalize his adherence to his new calling, and partly as an opportunity to introduce his new-found Friend to the publicans and sinners--i.e, the excommunicated persons of the city (Luk 5:29-30). That feast may have been the first step to the foundation of the Christian Church. Our Lord gladly availed himself of the opportunity to declare His purpose to seek and save the lost, to create a new society on that principle, and to make possible the enclosure of these lost sheep with the flock.
If Zacchaeus happened to be in the party that day, it is likely that for him it was the inauguration of a new life, and as he sat there under the fascination of Christ, he resolved to make reparation to any whom he had cheated and over-charged!
Let us see to it that there is more joy in our religions life. Let us seek the people who think themselves for ever excommunicated from the Church. It may be that we shall find Matthew, or Augustine, or John Bunyan among them!
O God, wherever Thou leadest we would go, for Thy ways are perfect wisdom and love. Blend our wills with Thine, and then we need fear no evil nor death itself, for all things must work together for our good. AMEN.
Thus cold hands may find warmth, and souls that are frozen for want of love and sympathy may be sheltered and refreshed, and we shall find that in showing love to a stranger we have been ministering to our dear Lord Himself, who said: "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto Me."
Help me, Blessed Lord, to bear the infirmities of the weak, to succour those that are over-borne in the fight of life, and to bear the burdens of others. AMEN.