We know that loving strangers is important to God, and therefore it is important to us. It’s natural to then ask, “How do I love strangers? What does that look like?”

Biblical examples of loving strangers

Abraham saw strangers from afar. He ran to them, invited them to his home, and offered them a meal. His actions are referenced in Hebrews 13:2 as he “entertained angels unawares.”

Rahab risked her own life to hide fugitives in her home, trusting that they were on a mission from God. These men should have been her enemies, but because of her hospitality and courage, her family was spared when the city of Jericho was destroyed.

The Good Samaritan went out of his way to stop his own progress on the road and help a stranger. Despite being from a heritage that the Jews disdained, he went the extra mile by rescuing this Jewish man and bringing him to a safe place. He sacrificed his time, money, and convenience for a stranger and expected nothing in return.

Good Samaritan quote MLK Jr

Lydia was a wealthy and influential woman who was taught the gospel by Paul. Immediately after her baptism, she compelled Paul and his traveling companions to stay with her. From the text, this appears to be the first time she had even met Paul, but she had no hesitation to welcoming him in and offering her home.

Biblical commands on loving strangers

The Bible offers a lot of instruction on how the people of God are to treat strangers.

  • Don’t oppress them. (Exodus 22:21, 23:9; Leviticus 19:33; Jeremiah 7:6; Zechariah 7:10)
  • Leave some of your abundance for them to collect. (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22; Deuteronomy 24:17-22)
  • Love strangers as you love yourself. (Leviticus 19:34)
  • Let them live with you if they fall into poverty. (Leviticus 25:35)
  • Love them. (Deuteronomy 10:18-19)

Those are some bold words. This series of studies has been very challenging to me as I realize how far I fall from the biblical examples of hospitality. I don’t intend to be frozen by shame, but inspired to do better. I know I’m not going to be some champion of generosity and welcome overnight, but I can be making steps in that direction. Maybe that means fighting my shy nature and being open to striking up conversations with strangers. Maybe it means expanding my mind to include those usually forgotten when I host a gathering. I certainly think it means a retraining of my heart to focus less on what is convenient for me and more on what serves and uplifts my neighbors.

I’ve compiled some practical ideas on what loving strangers looks like in Part II. If you haven’t read my earlier posts in this series on hospitality, you can catch up below:

To be continued….