Entertaining angels

Imagine yourself entering into a workshop and talking with the young man who is working within. He is maybe twenty-five years of age, sweaty and covered in saw-dust from carving and cutting wood. Perhaps you are a customer, placing an order. You want it done right, of course, and you want a reasonable price. How do you communicate?

Many people in such a situation might be rather condescending, forceful and demanding.

Let us imagine that, in this scenario, the young man and his workshop are in a backwater village. You know he has had no formal education beyond basic schooling, while you yourself have studied under the best teachers in the world. Added to this, your family has more money and is better connected. Would this change the tone of your conversation with him? Would you consider him to be your intellectual and social inferior?

Many, when speaking to others, are quite mindful of the social standing of the one to whom they are talking to, and there is an unspoken assumption amongst quite a few people that university degrees indicate superior intellect and potential. Deference is oft expected by those who have obtained such honors.

Would it make a difference, exploring the scenario just a little bit more, if you knew that the young man, Jesus by name, was the most important person ever to be born? Would your communication with Him be different if you knew that He was possessed of the most brilliant of minds and would go down in history as the greatest teacher and orator who had ever lived? Would you be more deferential if you knew that He was the Son of God, chosen to be the Savior of God’s people and that in about ten-years time, He would die on a cross for the sins of mankind, rising to newness of life in three days?

Granted, there has ever only been one Jesus. But at a certain point in His life, he was indeed a backwater carpenter, sweaty and dust covered, shaping wood for customers. It is quite likely most of the people for whom He worked did not know who they were talking to as they interacted with Him on a daily basis. Do you wonder if, years later, some of them might have regretted how they behaved in dealing with Him?

It is something to consider.

The inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews briefly reminds his readers, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2; NKJV) This is not, as some seem to think, a commentary on the proliferation of angels in the waking world, but rather an illustrated reminder that a person is never completely sure of the totality of the potential of the one with whom one is interacting. Abraham, and also his nephew Lot, did, in fact, show hospitality to individuals who, it turned out, were angels (cf. Genesis 18 and 19). Neither of the two men were aware of this fact before offering hospitality, but instead treated the angels with the exact same courtesy and love they would have shown to any other strangers. And they were blessed for doing so.

It is easy for us to give little to no thought to how we speak to those who are waiting on us, or strangers we pass by in the store, or individuals in whom we have no personal interest. Yet the Bible encourages us to be actively kind and polite to all and sundry, regardless of our perception, right or wrong, of their social position.

One of the two greatest commandments in all of the Bible, “Love you neighbor as yourself,” is a doctrine undergirding all our service to God. (cf. Matthew 22:35-40) This command does not refer just to the neighbors we know to be important people, but, as illustrated by the Parable of the Good Samaritan, should direct our actions towards every individual we encounter. (cf. Luke 10:25-37)

Realistically, not every individual you interact with is going to be a blessing in your life. But they might. And more importantly, by being loving, kind and polite, you might be a much-needed blessing in their life.

The best place to learn how to properly treat people is God’s word. If you would like to learn more, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.

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Entertaining angels

Jonathan McAnulty


Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.