Saturday, November 08, 2008

Charity Begins At Home


This is a requested article about the function of young women at home.

"Charity begins at home, and justice begins next door." (Charles Dickens, "Chuzzlewit.")
There is a story of a happy family, where the mother was trying to teach her children to be unselfish, to be careful of their actions, and to be helpful when they saw something that needed to be done. She spent a lot of time teaching them to clean up after themselves, keep their possessions put away neatly, not make messes all over the house, and keep their bedrooms in order.

One day she said, "Children, today I am going to do the laundry. Please bring your clothes to the washing machine and help me. It is a sunny day outside, and I would like you to also help me hang out the clothes. I would also like you both to wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen. If you help me, I can make the chores shorter, and be able to do some other things that I would dearly like to do today, such as sewing and letter-writing."

As the day commenced, and the children were just beginning their tasks, the weather became more pleasant. The two children, ages 12 and 13, asked their mother if they could ride their bikes to the home of a friend, who had children their age. Even though she needed their help, they pleaded with her to let them go, so she gave her permission. She indicated a specific time for them to leave to come home, hoping there would still be time to help with the work at home.
During the day, she washed clothes and hung them on the line, and then washed the dishes and put them away. She swept the floor and cleaned up the house so that it was pleasing and presentable. With the help of her children, her tasks would have been shortened, making more time for her to make dinner and catch up on her letter-writing.

As the day progressed, the mother began to look down the road to see if her children would be returning at the prescribed hour. They were late.
As she was hanging out her last line of wet clothes, she finally saw the two bikes at the end of the road, coming home much later than expected.

"Oh mother! " her daughter said, excitedly, "We went to see our friends but their mother wanted them to work before they were allowed to play with us. So, we helped them put the clothes on the line to dry. Then we helped them wash the dishes and put them away. After that, we helped them clean up their rooms! It was a good feeling to have helped someone!"

Their mother said to them, "I would like to show you something." She took them to their rooms, and opened the doors. With a serious voice, she said, "Look inside."

Her son opened the door to his room and looked. He had been in such a hurry to leave that morning, that he had not made his bed, nor put away any of his clothing. His books and papers and toys were strewn everywhere. There was also old food and drinks sitting around, where flies were visiting.

She then showed her daughter her room. The daughter knew what what was coming, so she expressed more dismay. Inside, her room was, to say the least, a "shambles." Her curtains were falling down, and dirty laundry was piled on the floor, because she had not taken it to the washing machine. Her drawers were all open, with things cascading out of them like a waterfall. There was dust on the surfaces of the window sills and shelves. Shoes and clothing and personal things were on the floor in disarray. Her books were jumbled up with papers and pens and toys.

"Children," pointed out their mother, "It is all very well and good to help someone else do their laundry and clean their rooms, but charity begins at home. If you do not do your work at home, first, then you are being a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who says he believes something but does not do it. It is nice that you helped Mrs. M. to hang out her clothing, but you did not remember that I was home hanging out the clothing by myself. No neighbor children came to help me. I also washed all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen myself. Someone else's children were not here visiting, to help me. She had her own children to help her with the chores, but I had no one to help me."

Lakefront Home, by T.C. Chiu
This story is not necessarily about keeping a clean bedroom. It is about the purpose of charity and piety. Charity is described as "any act of kindness, or benevolence" , and, "In a more particular sense, love, kindness, affection, tenderness, springing from natural relations; as the charities of father, son and brother." (Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

If charity (kindness, love, benevolence, help) is not present, it is like a "sounding brass." (Ist Corinthians 13:1). To say you are inspired to become a minister or a missionary, and not have love toward your home and your parents, is like making a lot of noise. If charity is not present, even if you claim to have a great faith and a great deal of knowledge, it amounts to nothing. (Ist Corinthians 13:2)
People can be skilled in the arts and sciences, and be considered "smart," but still fail in true charity, the kindness and affection that springs from natural relations.
Even feeding the poor and becoming injured or dying for a cause, avails nothing in the absence of charity. (1st Corinthians 13:3)
These children always remembered the lesson of being charitable at home, first. After that, working at home brought the same sense of accomplishment that they had felt when helping their friends. Charity at home brings double joy. It is always "more fun" to work for someone else, and receive the accolades from people outside of the home. To be benevolent and kind and helpful in the home, seeking the best for everyone in the family, takes a lot of thoughtfulness and effort. Charity at home is an expression and action of true Christianity.




Bench at Worcester by Bolton

There can be a great temptation to neglect our work and our love at home, while giving our time and our love to people outside the home. Certainly, such benevolence must be included in our lives, but we can not forget that charity begins at home.

Piety is another important Christian act, which must first be shown in the home. Piety is "Reverence of parents or friends, accompanied with affection and devotion to their honor and happiness. "(Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

One verse warns women to reject "wives tales," electing to exercise "piety" instead:

1Ti 4:7 and the profane and old women's fables reject thou, and exercise thyself unto piety... Perhaps today's "old wives tales" are the sayings the world throws at us that lure us away from home; sayings like, "are you fulfilled? What are you going to do with your life? What about your future?" We know the Bible approves of women being rulers and guardians of the home. We have to be careful not to listen to too many fables, which cause confusion and unrest.

One verse specifically mentions that piety be shown first in the home:
1Ti 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

This lesson of charity (kindess and benevolence)-- and piety (reverence for loved ones, devotion to duty), in the home, is directed particularly at young girls, and young women who are living at home with their parents. It seems that from the time they are in their teens, and sometimes earlier, people are tugging at them, with many attractive offers and lures, to get them away from their homes, where they are most needed.

As a result of this pressure, young women begin to doubt that they have any purpose in staying home and working for their parents. They do not think they are "making a difference," or "making a contribution." Doubts are sown in their thoughts, when others ask them about their future, with questions like, "What are you going to do with your life?"

It is natural for a young person to feel he wants to help humanity, make a contribution, or save the world. Even children have within them the natural instinct to be helpers. These feelings, however, should be properly schooled. There is work to do at home, and if they neglect charity and piety (the respect and honoring of parents, and the affection for their brothers and sisters) at home, then all the "saving the world" that they do, lacks credibility. Jesus himself travelled only 30 miles from home in his lifetime, but his example and words travelled all over the world. There is nothing wrong with going somewhere else, but why not go with your family or with your own husband? You can serve at home, the way Christ did, and still make a difference and make a contribution.

Time does not allow me to list the many tragedies of broken homes where the parents thought that saving the world was more important than personally ministering to their own children, or where mothers thought that being a great actress or professional, was more important than nurturing their own children. Time does not allow me to cite the many sad stories of young, single women, who wandered from their homes in order to "make a difference" but came back home hostile to their parents and less inclined to marry, have children, and keep house (II Timothy 5:14).

Before we get lured away from our homes for some great cause, let us look at the great cause before our very eyes: the home. It is the most neglected mission field there has ever been. It is the most neglected ministry. Everywhere you turn, people are complaining about "dysfunctional homes," broken homes, and unhappy homes.

There is a great need to restore the home and to minister to it. Young people can contribute a lot to establishing happy, productive homes. It is here that their talents are learned and developed. It is here that they establish their habits. It is here that they are creative. It is here they show hospitality and reach out to others in need of cheer. They can bless their own parents by taking over some of the work of the home and adding their special talents.

If the work in the house is complete, there is always something to do outside the perimeters of the property on which the house sets. If that is done, charity can be extended to one's own neighbors, and then within one's own local church, and beyond that, the town in which a person lives. There are many great needs in our own sphere, and while young people go "somewhere else" in an effort to be helpful and personally fulfilled, the work at home falls doubly to others or is totally neglected. There are local churches that need helpful young people to visit the shut-ins, or help young mothers.

There are homes that are left behind when young women skip town and go off to some adventure that pleases them. These homes lose something quite special when daughters do not think that homemaking and housekeeping and teaching little children is "making a contribution." They do make a difference and help humanity in their own homes. The world does not recognize this as any kind of accomplishment, but the Lord of all, does.

If girls do not think there is enough to do at home, they are not looking around them. Maybe their mothers are so good at housekeeping that all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, dish washing, sewing, and yard work is done. I find it hard to believe that girls are so bored at home that they sit their idle day after day, thinking they will be more useful somewhere else. In many ministries that girls are persuaded to join, they simply do the same things (cook, wash dishes, share their talents) that could be done at home. If young ladies do not think they "have a purpose" at home, or are "making a contribution," here is a list that can serve as a reminder that charity and piety begin at home:

1. Have you cleaned your room and accounted for all your possessions? Is the floor clean, the windows, the curtains and the bedding? How long has it been since you changed your sheets or cleaned your closet?

2. Are the bathrooms that you use in the house, spotless? Do you have a good knowledge of sanitation and cleaning for such things as sinks and tubs? Is the bathroom also decorated with attractive things that make it a pleasant part of the house?

3. Are the books in your home put in in some kind of order on the shelves, say, the decorating books together, fiction, non-fiction, magazines, art, and so forth? Are the books and shelves dusted and cleaned, and books repaired where needed?

4. How many meals do you prepare yourself, for your family? Are you able to shop for and prepare meals with ease? Do you know how to set an attractive table? Do you ever pamper your parents with special meals? Do you ever take over the kitchen, or other rooms in the house, and make them your own, to give your mother some time off? How much burden do you take off your mother? Are you helpful in any way to your father?

5. Have you taken time to learn how to garden around your house, seeing that flowers are planted, grass is trimmed, weeds pulled, and in general, creating an attractive frame around the base of the house? Have you grown any vegetables or fruit that you can serve your family?

6. How much charity have you extended to those within your closest acquaintance: the church, your neighbors, people you know, and relatives? Have you taken a basket filled with comforting things, to anyone, lately? Have you offered your help for free, to anyone? Have you ministered to the local church by making cards and sending out encouraging words to the members? Have you hosted any church members for tea lately? Have you sewn any clothing for anyone? If you have a car, have you offered to take anyone shopping, to appointments, or to tea? Do you have any kind of craft or skill that you use personally to minister to others?

I know of one girl who grows wonderful flowers in summer. She gathers them in bouquets and puts them in vases that she decorates herself, packs them in her car, and delivers them to people on her list that she wants to bless. Another girl I know takes laundry home from the house of a young mother, and washes it and presses it, and takes it back. It is a tremendous help to the woman with small children.

7. In the world, there is a great need for teaching on keeping house and having contented families. If you really want to "make a contribution", why not have a blog or website, which will reach hundreds? In it, you can describe the way you serve others and share your personal knowledge. With a blog, a young lady can extend her hospitality all over the world.
A young woman was overheard saying, "I do not want to be at home like my mother is. I want to help people." I said to her, "That sounds like marriage, home and family, for you would certainly be entering the helping-profession by becoming a helpmeet to your husband, a teacher for your children, a care giver and a care taker of the home. All of this requires a serious dedication."

I have only listed 7 areas where a young woman at home can be helpful, but there are many more. Before our daughters become convinced that they must go "somewhere else," we should allow them to carefully analyze Ist Corinthians 13, and ask themselves if they have been patient and kind and overlooked the faults of others in the home. This "charity chapter" can apply directly to the home, which is our very first practice at life, and our first experience with other people.


The painting at the top, is called "Seafarer's Vigilent Sentry" by Nicky Boehme, and is available as a 250 piece jigsaw puzzle at most Dollar Tree Stores around the country, for just a dollar.

A simple project made with an oval paper doily, cut out in the center and mounted on construction paper. The lettering and outlines are done with puff paint or glitter paint (Scribbles, Polymer, etc) and the plaque is hung with a wired ribbon strung through punched holes.

Ist Corinthians 1313:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
1Co 13:2 And though I have prophecies, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and do not have charity, I am nothing.
1Co 13:3 And though I give out all my goods to feed the poor, and though I deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am profited nothing.
1Co 13:4 Charity has patience, is kind; charity is not envious, is not vain, is not puffed up;
1Co 13:5 does not behave indecently, does not seek her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil.
1Co 13:6 Charity does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth,
1Co 13:7 quietly covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1Co 13:8 Charity never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be abolished; if tongues, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be abolished.
1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
1Co 13:10 But when the perfect thing comes, then that which is in part will be caused to cease.
1Co 13:11 When I was an infant, I spoke as an infant, I thought as an infant, I reasoned as an infant. But when I became a man, I did away with the things of an infant.
1Co 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.
1Co 13:13 And now faith, hope, charity, these three remain; but the greatest of these is charity.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear Lydia for all the work and effort that went into the writing of this excellent article. It is so very much appreciated. "Charity begins at home." I'm going to write this out and contemplate how I can more fully incorporate it's message in my own sphere. Even at this season in my life I found your specific points and suggestions in this article very inspiring. I'm off to accomplish some of them now. Blessings to you, L.M.L.

Candy said...

Dear Lydia
This was excellent,


Candy

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post. Thank you Lydia.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really need to hear this type of encouragement as I raise my two teenage daughters!
~Beth

Kathryn Louis said...

I've been thinking these exact things lately and have decided that blogging is taking away from my home duties. I've seen myself writing homeschool curriculum, running webinars, making lessons, menues, and giving advice to young mother, while neglecting those at home. Would you allow me to post this on my blogs as a sort of good bye posting?

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Kathryn,

You are right: our girls also need to know that while it is natural and noble to help others, even the time we spend on the blog for others, can rob them of time that is needed in the home. If good habits are formed in the home, their married life will be busy with actual work.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

the articles are free for anyone to use on their blogs.

Robin said...

This was an excellent entry. I'm one who recently came home after working for many years, and the call to work or anything outside is very strong. It's hard to turn around and look at my home as a place I need to be. My house is a mess, my children are a bit spoiled, and I'm always frustrated. This entry has given me a lot more than just a list of duties. It's given me permission to say "no" to many things and stay home and work, when so many voices are beckoning me.

One very exciting thing to me is that my husband is going out of town next week. He'll be gone about 8 days. I'd love to be able to make a huge dent in our house during that week while preparing for the holidays. I'd almost decided to take a couple of weeks off of homeschool in order to clean like mad. We'll do that while also reading and studying the passage you quoted. What a great lesson for my babies!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Julie Perry said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

This was an EXCELLENT post! Thank you for the gentle and gracious reminders to extend the same kindnesses at home that we would extend to others!
Thank you also for the time and encouragement that you give to others! I have been reading your posts for about 2 or 3 years, and they are the only "Titus 2 woman" in my life, and help to positively shape my attitudes about being home. I am sure this is true for many other women out there.
Thank you again!
Mrs. Julie Perry

Lady B said...

"It is always "more fun" to work for someone else, and receive the accolades from people outside of the home. To be benevolent and kind and helpful in the home, seeking the best for everyone in the family, takes a lot of thoughtfulness and effort. Charity at home is an expression and action of true Christianity."

This quote caught my attention...and is so true...We need to ponder and act out the wisdom thereof if we really want to be True Christians! We need to start showing the love, the charity, the kindness begining with those around us, right in our homes. If you are a father begin providing for those in your household. If youre a mother, let the nuturing start right from your own home, then you can confidently extend it to those outside your household...This is so important, I think thats why the bible says in
1st Timothy 5:8. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own
house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

This message really touched me. Thanks for the goodwork Lady Lydia.
Blessings,
Lady Barbra, from Uganda.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Lady Barbra, the church that we read about in the New Testament was not supposed to support financially a widow if she had living children. Men should support their families and not expect the government or the church or the women to do it. Wives and mothers have enough to do without giving them a double burden of being provider and care giver.

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

As always... your posts inspire and nourish the soul. :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Lydia, I remember being so encouraged by your articles as a daughter at home, and continue to be encouraged by them as a wife. Keep up the good work.

Lady B said...

Lady Lydia, what you´re pointing about men providing for their families is very crucial in our present day. Although at times, it doesnt happen that way! At least from where i come from, i have witnessed rural women doing most of the work including providing for their families. The women do the digging in the gardens, they sell the produce to take care of their homes. If they are unfortunate to be married to an alcoholic, chances are he will demand for that money and spend it on alcohol...It´s sad! If only men would assume their traditional role of being providers and the women caregivers, the world will be a much better place to live in...

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

Lady B. this was such a problem in the 17 and 1800's that women took to the streets to abolish the sale of alchohol. One woman named Carrie Nation's life was so disrupted by alcohol, both from her father and her husband, that she took a little hatchet and went into drinking establishments and chopped up the bar area. I wrote about her years ago but havent a clue where it is in this jumbled mess called a blog. I watched a film called "The Electric Victorians" which was silent, (Netflix) and the last part of it showed the women with -placards that said "Make a better choice for families". Unlike todays so called liberation movement,the women of the time wanted most of all to protect the families and they recognized the harm that alcohol did. In their time they went to congress and had bars shut down all over the place. Some areas are still called
dry counties" as a result of the ban on the sale of alcohol. We also need to educate women through blogs like this, not to marry those who drink, plus how to handle those who do.That would take another long article.To put it in a nutshell: women don't have to put up with things that destroy the home. They have far more influence and power to control the destruction in their homes.

Lady B said...

Thanks Lady Lydia, I like what you said about us ´not marrying those who drink, plus how to handle those who do.´ I think at times we ladies get lost in wishful thinking hoping that these men we are married to will change and turn away from their drinking addictions. At times that doesnt happen...and we are stuck with facing up to the challenges of having an alcoholic husband and father of our children....I think during courtship ladies, we need to open our eyes and focus on the real issues....the qualities that we want in a man...husband, father and grand father....Very important advise this..! Thanks for posting. Your blog is a blessing to us young ladies...Not yet married but certainly learning alot from reading your pieces and commentaries. A BIG THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

Abuse of alcohol in Australia is considered 'normal'. It is tragic that many folk (including my own family) sneer at and rail against those who don't drink. When going to the dinner etc with folk who are baptist, Salvation Army, Methodist etc, all they do is winge behind those people's backs about the fact they couldn't have a drink with their meal. This disgusts me; the alcohol lobby has such a stranglehold on government here; almost 30% of state govt taxes is derrived from alcohol so they would not want the tap to be turned off, now, would they. Our temporance movement in Australia has always been very very weak; Australians have a saying (never trust someone who doesn't drink'; this is abhorrant and only getting worse. Those who are temperent are labeled 'wouzers' and laughed out as old fuddy duddies or fundamentalist crackpots little better than tyrants in Middle Eastern dictatorships..... with only 10-15% of the population observant Christian, we fight a very difficult battle.No one in influence is willing to take the bull by the horns and do something; Even the highest form of govt. believe prohibition to be largely inneffective.

What is the answer? Australia is such a heathen wilderness in so many ways; at times, i wish I could migrate to the US and ensconse myself in a deeply faithful, God=fearing, modest, traditional, dry community. We are set where we are set though....

May all be truly given wisdom to deal with what are so often horrendously difficult circumstances.

Blessings,

Sarah.

LadyLydiaSpeaks said...

This lesson also applies to those who think we should have our money extracted from us to take care of everyone else's parents and children. If each person were left with their own income,which they earned, they could afford to build a house or add on to theirs, for their parents. They would not have to take social security and put their parents in inferior retirement homes. They would be able to pass on something for their children and help them get started in a business or a home, and still have money to donate to others in need. The way it is now, money is extracted from us, unwillingly, and it is distributed according to the judgement of government, and we all know what kind of causes they support with this money.

ainadiah said...

Dearly Lydia,
It is an excellent article! Congratulations!

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