george hancock stefanOne early morning as I was driving to the seminary, I was thinking about an obscure Bible verse. I thought about this verse because a friend of a friend had been extremely kind to me. My friend found out that I was spending one night each week at a nearby hotel so that I did not have to drive all the way home between my Wednesday and Thursday classes. This friend’s friend offered me a room because the family’s sons have gone to college and there is a free room in the house. For the past two years, I have stayed with this family for free.

The obscure passage I mentioned is hidden between two verses that are pretty familiar to Bible students in Matthew 10:40-42. The 40th and 42nd are well-known, but the middle one is more difficult to understand. All three verses were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. “40 He who receives you receives me and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. 41 Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.      42 And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I will tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

The Old Testament and the New Testament speak about people receiving or rejecting the prophets of God. When Jesus sends his disciples, He tells them: “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust of your feet when you leave that home or that town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that town” (Matthew 10:14-15). In the Old Testament, the prophets are not received by the Israelites and Elijah is sent by God to a foreign land—Zarephath of Sidon. God sends him to a widow who has a son and because she receives Elijah, God performs a miracle. In the midst of the famine, her supplies last as long as the prophet is there. The story continues with a disciple of Elijah called Elisha. He leaves his family and follows Elijah. When his teacher is taken up to heaven, Elisha asks that God give him a double portion of the power that Elijah possessed. God hears his prayer and Elisha is a mighty prophet during his lifetime.

God blesses our welcoming spirit and our welcoming homes. God blesses our hospitality beyond measure. The author of Hebrews writes these words, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing.” (Hebrews 13:2)

I do know that there is a prophet’s reward and a righteous man’s reward. I pray that God expands his criteria and creates a seminary professor’s reward. I pray that God will bless this family that has received me for so many years, both in this life and the next. There have been other occasions when people opened their homes to me and I enjoyed their hospitality. When I came to this church and was often traveling over the weekend, a church family welcomed me into their home. To this day, I have a soft, loving spot for this family for they welcomed this stranger. When I travel to Eastern Europe, there is a family who insists that I stay with them from the moment that I arrive until I leave. I am a part of their family when I am there and I pray that the Lord will richly reward them with blessings that only He can bestow.

King Solomon writes in Proverbs 19:17, “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and he will reward him for what he has done.” Romans 11:35 tell us that God is never a debtor to anyone because He always gives above what we are giving to him and in Hebrews 11, we read that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. May he abundantly bless the people who give us the gift of hospitality.