Hospitality? What’s that? And why would I want to teach it to my children? In this day and age good manners are a rare commodity. Hospitality is something we fear. We seem to be losing the art of hospitality.
We are taught to be independent and self-sufficient. Our entertainment comes instantly through a glowing screen or tiny earbuds. We can purchase lodging and meals at every major intersection. We don’t need to practice hospitality these days. Or do we?
Is hospitality a talent we are born with? A skill at which some excel and others do not? Maybe. Maybe not. If it doesn’t come naturally, we can learn. We should learn. It does as much good (or more!) for the one practicing and showing hospitality as it does the one receiving it. Teaching our children to be hospitable is giving them a gift that continues giving to others.
Scripture shows us examples of hospitality, explains how we benefit from it, and even commands it. Reading, discussing and memorizing verses with our children helps them understand why we should be hospitable people. These verses are a good place to start.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
As you sit around the table sharing a meal together, brainstorm a list of things you can do to show kindness to others. A hospitable attitude can be shown when you have guests in your home, but also when you are playing at the park or shopping at the corner market. Help your children think of situations they can show hospitality through being tenderhearted with those who are hurting. Know that God forgives us helps us show compassion toward others.
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. Luke 14:13-15
Are there friends, neighbors, family members you could invite in for a meal? Or maybe just afternoon milk and cookies? Is there a member in your church family who could benefit from having a meal brought to them? Children love working in the kitchen. Preparing a simple meal for a young mother with a newborn or a neighbor who’s had surgery is a great way to serve, learn, and create memories too!
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:8-9
Showing hospitality really is very simple – show love. That’s it! We think of the word ‘Love’ as a feeling or emotion. But it is an action word. Let your children see you loving others. Give your children a challenge to put their love into action. This summer create a list of ideas your family can use as a checklist for making guests feel welcome. Ask your children to write down anything and everything they can think of that would make a guest’s stay in your home more enjoyable. Help them think about what makes them feel welcome in someone else’s home. Maybe you can pair up older children with younger children for a team effort or a friendly competition.
…if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. 1 Timothy 5:10
A sign of good Christian character among widows was that she had a history of serving and providing for the needs of others. Discuss with your children whether or not this should apply only to widows, or does it apply to all Christians? There are programs in every community for feeding the poor and helping people in need. Does that let us off the hook? If someone else is taking care of things, does that mean we do not have to make the effort?
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:44-47
Have you read these examples of hospitality with your children?
- In 2Kings 4:8-17 we read about the Shunammite woman who created a simple but comfortable place for Elisha by placing a bed, a table and chair, a lampstand in a small room. In return for her kindness, she was blessed in very special ways (read for yourself to find out more! You’ll also find a fun activity for your little ones to go along with this Bible story in 12 Quick and Easy Bibles Lessons for Little Ones.)
- Abraham and his household went to great lengths to provide for the needs of his guests in Genesis 18:3-8. He wanted to share the best of what he had with his guests. Ask your children what they can do in like manner. Have them practice speaking directly to guests, looking them in the eye. Offering a refreshment and a place to sit and rest. Practice ways to begin conversation so they have something to say.
- Jethro was a wonderful example of hospitality, and we are told how he taught his daughters (Exodus 2:16-20) You’ll want to read on to learn the rest of the story!
- We can read with our children how Jesus taught us to have compassion for and provide care for someone who is different than we are in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and that we are to do likewise. We can also read about how the Samaritans showed hospitality themselves (John 4:40). The lesson here being Hospitality is Universal!
- Mary and Martha, sisters who were close friends of Jesus were fantastic example of hospitality. Each with different strengths and talents, they did much to provide for the needs of Christ and His followers during His ministry. Children can offer a great deal of insight into what is good and proper, and can be helpful in setting priorities while reading through passages about these ladies. (Luke 10:38-42)
There are many more examples, accounts and stories of hospitality sprinkled through scripture. Search together as a family to find them, challenge one another to put on a spirit of hospitality. You and your children will be blessed beyond measure and you’ll change the lives of those who cross your path.
I’m thrilled to be a part of this series here at In All You Do. I hope you’ll visit all the posts shared this month.
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Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mom and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 7 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & Other Things where she shares tidbits, tales, tricks and tips from her days of raising children in various stages of cutting those apron strings. You can also find her on FaceBook, Pinterest, and Google+.
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