How to Practice Biblical Hospitality with Children

A few months ago, a really good conversation got started on the Baby Devotions Instagram around the topic of Biblical Hospitalty. There were a lot of great comments, and many questions about What is Biblical Hospitality?And how can we practice it? And, even more so, how can we practice it with little in tow. So I decided to reach out to an expert. Rachel Schelb has a passion for Biblical Hospitality, and inspiring families to live out this Biblical mandate. She offers a lot of great insight on her blog, and has been so gracious to offer her thought in the guest post. Keep reading and be encouraged, and go follow her for more inspiration: https://www.rachelschelb.com/

Biblical Hospitality with Rachel Schelb

The other day my 2 year-old daughter saw a person in a wheelchair. She looked up and me and said, “What dat?”

I explained that she was in a wheelchair because it helps people who don’t have legs that work as well as hers.

She said: “Yay!”

Children are amazing aren’t they? There is a reason we are told in Mattew 18:3-4, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Children have a way of seeing the beauty in the world around them, even- no, especially- in the things that are different from their norm! As we grow, the Enemy is able to invade our spirit with lies and half-truths that steal our innocence and cause us to lose our sense of wonder and excitement.

What are you talking about?

Children have an amazing innate ability to show Biblical Hospitality. What is Biblical Hospitality? Great question! It is not proper etiquette, fancy meals, or elaborate parties. The Greek word for hospitality is “philoxenia” and it literally means “love for strangers.”
That’s it! No other requirements or stipulations – just love people you don’t know. I like to say Biblical Hospitality means to love well on purpose.

There are two places in scripture we see hospitality clearly mandated. Throughout all of the Bible we see hospitality modeled for us! The mandates are below:

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality -Romans 12:13

Show hospitality without grumbling.- 1 Peter 4:9

Most adults are decent at the first part of Romans 12:13. Contributing to Christian’s, like-minded people, and friends is easy for most of us. Children can show hospitality, a love for strangers, fairly easily! As we get older it becomes more of a challenge for us to love strangers and people we don’t know very well.

Showing hospitality without grumbling seems to be nearly impossible for many! BUT! God’s Word is clear that this behavior is important! So how do we 1) implement the Biblical command personally, and 2) instruct our children in this lifestyle of loving well on purpose?

How do I do this?

Everyday you and I have the chance to show Biblical Hospitality. It may be finally introducing yourself and learning your neighbor’s name. Maybe you can take a meal to someone who just had surgery or a baby. It may be reaching out to the “fringe friend” you see on the ballfields, in the halls of church, or someplace else regularly. You always speak to each other. You’ve mentioned getting together once or twice. Unfortunately, neither of you have ever done anything about it so you both are friends-ish without deepening of the relationship.

  1. Set a goal. Maybe it’s to send 3 intentional texts to friends to encourage them with scripture or kind words this week. It could be to finally nail down a date (even if it’s 6 weeks in the future…this happens regularly for me!) And get together with your fringe friend. Just set a goal.

  2. Put a reminder in your phone.
    Halfway through the week, set a reminder to complete your goal. I get that our lives are busy and it’s easy to forget calling someone when there’s other pressing issues. Setting the alarm for your phone is a great way to help keep you on track.

  3. Set a new goal.
    I don’t know how accurate this saying is, but it’s been said that it takes 21 days to make a habit. If that’s true, and I believe it takes at least that long, then we can’t love someone well once and say we fulfilled the mandate. It’s ongoing! So we have to keep setting goals and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones to see new people that need to be shown Jesus’ love through us! The more consistently we practice hospitality through setting these goals, the more we will become known by our love.
    The better we love others well o e purpose, the more we fulfill the entirety of the Gospel.

What can kids do?

As adults we have a hard time developing new habits. Children can adapt much better to new schedules & situations. This is why it is crucial that we implement a lifestyle of hospitality within our children while they are still young.

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your hates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”

-Deuteronomy 11:19-21

The “them” in verse 19 and 2p is referencing the commands of the Lord. Romans 12:13 and 1 Peter 4:9 are commands. We have to set the example and then equip our children to love others well. We must nurture their innate sense to cheer for people in wheelchairs and sit with the new kid at lunch.

Our children, everyone of them, was created in the image of God. He is love. Thus, even small children have the capacity to love well on purpose. Here are just a few ways to equip your children, regardless of age, to show hospitality.

Ways Children Can Practice Biblical Hospitality

  1. Have them hold the door open. Teach your boys, and girls to hold the door open for others in public. It teaches them to consider others and creates awareness of the world outside of them.

  2. Let them greet house guests.
    We love to let our children open the door when we’re having a party. We remind them to speak to the guests and say something sime, like “come on in!” My 2 year-old loves showing people the potty and the playroom!

3. Say “yes” as often as possible when they want to have friends over. It speaks volumes that your home is a place where they feel comfortable and want others to be! Don’t take that lightly. The more you say yes to friends coming over when they are little, the more likely your home will be the “hangout” when they are teenagers. And while that may mean a higher grocery bill and dirtierfloors, what a testimony to you for creating a space where everyone who enters feels love and hospitality!

4. Take meals/treats to other people and get your kids involved.

Have your kids help you make cake mix cookies (Pinterest had lots of possibilities) and deliver them to teachers, neighbors, or include them as the dessert to a meal you’re delivering. Bring your child along as you deliver the meal for that foster family or person recovering from surgery. Explain why you’re doing this. Teach them that this is a simple way to let someone know they are noticed and loved.
You’ve heard the quote, “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.” I would challenge you to take that further. Don’t simply practice one-off moments of kindness. Instead, create a lifestyle of noticing strangers and being intentional with love. Show hospitality, without grumbling, regularly and watch how God creates connections and experiences beyond what you could have imagined!! It’s never too late to start loving well on purpose!

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