She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.” 2 Kings 4:9
The friendship began with a dinner invitation. A wealthy woman from the village of Shunem noticed that the prophet Elisha passed her home regularly as he journeyed from place to place. One day she urged him to share a meal with her and her husband.
After that, Elisha visited their home often. Because the woman recognized that he was a “holy man,” she wanted to honor him and the God He served. She asked her husband to build a guest room for Elisha so he’d have a private place to stay when he and his servant Gehazi came. What a blessing it must have been for these two men to know that a hot meal and a comfortable bed awaited them at the end of a long day’s journey.
Because Elisha valued the woman’s hospitality, he wanted to return her kindness. But when he asked how to repay her, she humbly said, “I have a home among my people,” which meant she was content with what she had (vv. 11-13). Later, in response to Gehazi’s suggestion, Elisha asked the Lord to give the woman the unspoken desire of her heart—a son (vv. 14-17). Within a year, God graciously rewarded this woman’s hospitable acts by giving her a son.
Her story makes me think about how much time I devote to hospitality. Unfortunately, I often think I’m too busy doing “more important” things for God; therefore, I don’t prepare dinner for a full-time Christian worker or even bake cookies for my church’s prison ministry.
But this Scripture passage suggests the opposite. The “more important” may be a hot meal, a handwritten thank-you note, or an invitation to stay overnight. In fact, Jesus said that even a cup of water given in His name will be rewarded (Mark 9:41).
Although my parents often welcomed missionaries and other full-time Christian workers into our home, I’ve not followed their example. So I’m challenging myself to be more hospitable this summer. I’ll begin by hosting a few dinners.
What about you? How well do you model the Shunammite woman’s example? We may be surprised by the blessings God sends our way when we open our home and our heart to others.
For more about how God used Elisha to bless this hospitable woman, read 2 Kings 4:18-37 and 2 Kings 8:1-6.
Read Matthew 10:40-42 and Mark 9:38-41. What is Jesus trying to teach the disciples in these parallel passages?
Read 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:7-9, and Hebrews 13:1-3. What do these passages suggest about the importance of hospitality among God’s people?
Denise K. Loock
This devotions is part of a series, Unnamed Heroes.