11th of a series of studies from Philemon
“Prepare a guest room for me”
Philemon 22 (NIV UK)
I don’t think I can count the number of times that friends have prepared a guest room for my wife and me. People have been so hospitable, be it from the leafy suburbs of St Albans in the UK to the dusty outskirts of Harare in Zimbabwe.
In ministry you often need a place to sleep and rest, and, of course, there are hotels and bed and breakfast places you use. Extra special, however, have been the times when members have opened up their homes and offered a room to stay in. I remember one lady, who, when we travelled between Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa, would put us up for the night. She loved her whiskies, and we would talk into the early hours with a wee dram or two. Above all, she loved the Lord and was delighted to share in his ministry.
Of course, it is not always possible to accommodate someone for all kinds of understandable reasons. And, sometimes, a travelling minister may need the privacy of an hotel room. In this passage Paul anticipates the hospitality of Philemon. They are in the work of the Lord together, and, for them, it is doing the work that counts. To Philemon Paul is not just another guest, but a brother in the household of faith.
Jesus says that His Father’s house is full of rooms and that a place is being prepared for us (John 14:1-3). The Father’s welcome is unsurpassed. We won’t be there as passing guests but as much loved children in whom he is well pleased. Won’t it be wonderful, after our long journey of this life’s ups and downs, to be refreshed by the hospitality of the Lord?
In the meantime let’s be hospitable to one another in whatever way we are able. We don’t have to offer guest rooms as Philemon did, but we can open up our personal space by being welcoming, kind and encouraging to everyone we meet.
Our Father, thank you that a place is being prepared for us in your house, and help us now to be hospitable to one another.
Study by James Henderson