Unexpected Guests (16 May 2019)

Morning Encounter:


One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the Lord appeared to him. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them, bowed with his face to the ground, and said, “Please come to my home where I can serve you. I’ll have some water brought, so you can wash your feet, then you can rest under the tree. Let me get you some food to give you strength before you leave. I would be honoured to serve you.”

“Thank you very much,” they answered. “We accept your offer.”

Abraham quickly went to his tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread.” After saying this, he rushed off to his herd of cattle and picked out one of the best calves, which his servant quickly prepared. He then served his guests some yogurt and milk together with the meat.

While they were eating, he stood near them under the trees,  and they asked, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“She is right there in the tent,” Abraham answered.

One of the guests was the Lord, and he said, “I’ll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son.”

Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent.

(Genesis 18:1-10)


Abraham’s lavish hospitality to his three impromptu guests was only what was expected in Ancient Near Eastern culture. They are offered water to wash, a place to rest, and a sumptuous meal, and all with great respect and deference. There is no hint that Abraham was aware of their special significance, or had any expectation of repayment or reciprocation. But the story has come to be a foundational motivation for Christian hospitality, connected as it is with the presence of God, his promise and his blessing.


Think about what motivates you to offer hospitality. Do you do it from obligation? From a desire to show-off your home or cooking skills? From the hope of reciprocation? What might God want to say to you about your motivations for giving hospitality?

Midday Meditation:

Be sure to welcome strangers into your home. By doing this, some people have welcomed angels as guests, without even knowing it.

(Hebrews 13:2)

Evening Reflection:

'Not every act that may be done as a discipline need be done as a discipline. I will often be able to serve another simply as an act of love and righteousness, without regard for how it may enhance my abilities to follow Christ…but I may also serve another to train myself away from arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. In that case, my service is undertaken as a discipline for the spiritual life.'

(Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines)

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