“I am Elizabeth” Bible Study
LESSON 6 – I am Hospitable to Others
The first time someone told me I had the spiritual gift of hospitality, I snorted the tea I was drinking and spewed it down my front. Me—have the gift of hospitality? Ha!
Don’t we all feel that way? I enjoy setting the table and making things look lovely. I even have fun cooking a meal and planning the evening. But when the folks actually show up? What if they feel uncomfortable? How can I put them at ease? Will they enjoy themselves? What if they hate my food or (shudder) get sick from it?
The gift of hospitality surely must be a spiritual thing. It can’t be something that comes naturally. Even Paul told us to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13). He must have known we had to practice it because we’ll probably never get it right.
At that time [Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, according to Luke 1:36) Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-40, explanation added).
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home (Luke 1:56).
Elizabeth was six months pregnant when Mary showed up for a 3-month extended stay. Yes, the first three months of pregnancy are tough and yes, the second three months women generally feel better, but still, if I was six months pregnant, it’d be hard to be hospitable.
Of course things were different back then. Folks went visiting and didn’t have a local Holiday Inn in which to crash. No doubt Mary was pleasant and helpful. But the point for our lesson today is that Elizabeth opened her home to Mary for three months and was joyful when she arrived. Luke tells us that Baby John was joyful, too.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41).
If hospitality is a gift you give others, this is an example of how it is better to give than receive. Elizabeth was hospitable. Not only did her joy extend to the baby inside her, but she also received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus returned to heaven, it was rare for the Holy Spirit to be in a person’s life. The mention of it here in Luke indicates the importance of this occurrence. The receipt of the Holy Spirit was a divine gift to Elizabeth and one that she received while she was expressing hospitality.
Perhaps Elizabeth was overjoyed to have Mary there with her. Perhaps she was grateful for Mary’s help and companionship. Or perhaps she was hospitable simply because it was culturally required of her to be so. The point is that she opened her home and welcomed Jesus’ mother in.
Jesus puts a unique spin on this reminding us later:
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:40-42).
Paul furthers this thought:
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:2).
Do we show hospitality to others? Do we open our homes, our hearts, our lives to Jesus? Or to people who need to learn about Jesus?
If Elizabeth were here she would say this was her story. She knew the importance of hospitality and was hospitable even if she didn’t feel like it.
Who are we to God? When we recognize the importance of caring for other people despite our own feelings or circumstances, we understand how God might see His women of faith. We can respond:
I am like Elizabeth.
For Thought and Discussion
- Are you grateful when people come to help or visit? Do you expect help or are you grumpy when your circumstances overshadow what people are doing to help you?
- Do you open your home, your time, your life to others with a cheerful heart? Who in your life needs your hospitality?
- What act of hospitality toward you in the past do you most appreciate? What made it memorable? How can you use
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, we do love you and want to show your love to others. Sometimes though it’s hard to expend the effort or do the things others need. Please open our hearts to the needs of others and then help us do the things that need to be done to let you love others through us. Amen.