Do you know anyone with open hands? I do. I have friends who are always opening their home to others, following the model of the apostle Paul in Acts 28:28-31.
Paul lived for two years in his rented house. He welcomed everyone who came to visit. He urgently presented all matters of the kingdom of God. He explained everything about Jesus Christ. His door was always open.
These friends of mine are much loved by many, because of their generosity in sharing Jesus Christ. When we think of the apostle Paul, we generally think of him as "on the move", don't we? He was quite a zealous man, no matter his cause, whether it was in persecuting Christians in his early days before conversion, or preaching the gospel of Jesus after his conversion. He went on at least 3 missionary journeys, rambling all over Asia.
There were also times when he "stayed put", such as the two-year period at the end of Acts. He was skilled at making tents; this was his trade. There were times when he plied his trade while discipling new believers (building churches).
Wherever he was, he had "open hands". People like my friends, and like Paul, have the gift of hospitality. That sounds like one of the more frivolous spiritual gifts, doesn't it? If you believe that, then you have a false understanding of what this gift means. There is an element of succor (support in times of hardship and distress) and "safe haven" in this spiritual gift. Those with this gift provide a place where those who need Jesus (or more of Jesus, Beloved) can come to be loved on, rescued, or built up in the faith.
What does this passage reveal as the characteristics of someone with this spiritual gift? If you look at these verses in various translations, here are some of the descriptors that pop up:
4. Great Confidence
6. Proclaiming the Lord Jesus
This is SuperBowl Weekend which, as I am not a sports fan in any sense of the word, is not my fave. However, I want to ask you to pray for another ministry that combines the gift of hospitality with the gifts of evangelism and prayer and preaching. It is the Out of Darkness ministry, headquartered in downtown Atlanta.
Right now, members of this ministry are in Phoenix, AZ, attempting to combat the sex trafficking which accompanies the SuperBowl. Did you know that, wherever this event is held, there is more sex trafficking associated with it than with any other major event in the United States? That is an uncontested statistic. In fact, pimps and other traffickers IMPORT women from neighboring cities to handle the "demand" for their services from those who attend this event. Out of Darkness has been in Phoenix, AZ, ministering to women enslaved in this trade for the past two weeks. Many have come out of The Life, as they ironically call it, to the freedom that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
You can check out their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/OutofDarknessAtlanta
As wealthy (compared to the rest of the world, all Americans are wealthy) believers, we have often been guilty of grasping our wealth tightly to our chests, "building bigger and bigger barns" (Luke 12:13-21). And, we wonder why we always seem to be struggling financially.
Jesus said that the secret to true wealth is giving away what you have, whether it be money or time or your own spiritual gifts, Christian. The gospel writers were so impressed by the Holy Spirit of this foundational truth's importance that three of them included this teaching of Jesus in their gospels: Matthew 16:25; Luke 9:24; John 12:25. Here is the John passage from The Message version:
Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.
But, if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.
Open hands....giving ourselves away. It is the way of the cross, the way of our Savior, who gave all of Himself for us.
Oh Lord, forgive us for holding tightly to the gifts you have given us. There are also those whose material blessings have prevented them from turning to you for salvation. For all of us who answer "no" to your call to give ourselves away, I pray. Please chisel the stone from our hardened hearts and enable us to see those suffering and dying spiritually around us to the point that our hearts are broken over their need. And, show us, then again, how you would have each of us to open our hands to share the love of Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray, amen.