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The Liberal Mormon: Hospitality and Liberality

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 29, 2011

September 9, 1928

The Teachings of Christ Applied: Hospitality and Liberality

“For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, –
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.” – Lowell

Basal Readings

Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. – Luke 14:12-14

… Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. … – Romans 12:13

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; and by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. – 2 Corinthians 9:5-15

I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.– Acts 20:35


1. (a) Describe the essential characteristics of hospitality.

(b) How may these characteristics vary with circumstances?

2. (a) In what ways may liberality of giving be manifest?

(b) Show how these ways may vary with the circumstances of the giver.

3. How does the L.D.s. Church tend to develop in its members habits of liberality (a) in cash contributions? (b) in free service?

4. Show how habits of hospitality and liberality react upon the individual in relation both to his character and his happiness.

Supplementary Reading

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Department from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. and these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.– Matthew 25:31-46

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. – Ephesians 4:28

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach. – 1 Timothy 3:2

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. – Titus 1:7-9

Use hospitality one to another without grudging. – 1 Peter 4:9


Those who have served as missionaries among Polynesian or other primitive people well know how thoroughly hospitable these people are. This is evidence of the fact that notwithstanding the often manifest selfishness of individuals and nations there is, nevertheless, also in man a natural sympathy for fellowmen. This sympathy is manifest in hospitality and liberality in giving for the relief of suffering or for the promotion of happiness. This characteristic of human nature has been denied by some of the more superficial and cynical of the philosophers. It has, on the other hand, been affirmed and utilized in ethical theory by some of the most influential philosophers. It is practically assumed in the second great commandment, common to Judaism and Christianity, and generally accepted by the great world religions.

As applied to hospitality it should be noted that this quality of character is properly manifest in willingness to share our possessions with our fellowmen, whether these possessions be great or small, material or spiritual. It calls always for sympathetic understanding. Appreciative giving or sharing. when the need of material giving has vanished there is on that account no need of diminution of hospitality. Men, women, and children are always in need of a friendly word and the companionship of persons who will share their joys and their sorrows. It is this sort of hospitality that is especially needed in our highly complex modern society.

There is now, as never before, need of liberality in giving to public or community causes. to the state and other civic institutions this giving is in the form of taxes; to the church, tithing and other free will offerings; to organized charities, contributions to the community chest; to other voluntary organizations for promotion of human welfare there may be equal need of giving. The spirit of Christ’s teaching is that all such giving should be liberal, willing, cheerful, and considerate of the good purposes it will serve.


1. Give some concrete illustrations of opportunities to practice hospitality in most beneficial ways.

2. To what worthy causes do you have opportunity to contribute

(a) in money or other material value?

(b) in service?



  1. I like the practical optimism of this lesson – a sense that social problems can be solved by a combination of government, church and private efforts. I love the old term “community chest” because it evokes the idea that the giver and recipient are members of the same community.

    Comment by DCL — September 29, 2011 @ 11:28 am

  2. Wow — this line surprised me (but in a good way):

    There is now, as never before, need of liberality in giving to public or community causes. to the state and other civic institutions this giving is in the form of taxes.

    This was written before the Great Depression set in. It makes me wonder if attitudes of giving and liberality changed in the decade that followed? Surely some of the stingy and surly attitudes of the current crop of conservatives pertains in part to the difficult economic times?

    Comment by David Y. — September 29, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  3. I love the scriptures referenced here, but also feel incredibly guilty when I really think hard about them, and realize how often I fall short in some of these most simple things I could be doing.

    A friend and I have talked about the “Myth of Self Sufficiency” as often interpreted by the members of the church, and it reminds me of King Benjamin’s counsel:

    Mosiah 2:21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

    4:19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    Comment by kevinf — September 29, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  4. #3 kevinf: I’ve also thought a great deal about the myth of self sufficiency, particularly spiritual self sufficiency (which is, in my mind, impossible; we all have need of the atonement; we are all beggars), but also temporal self sufficiency. How can I retain a remission of my sins without giving liberally to the poor (as taught by King B)?

    #2 David Y: I’m not only surprised by the specific mention of taxes, but also the inclusion of other charitable giving beyond the church’s programs.

    Great stuff, Ardis.

    Comment by Paul — September 29, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  5. David Y: I also was struck by that sentence. I found it quite interesting.

    As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of 1920s society and that this lesson was perhaps a warning coming as it did just prior to the Great Depression.

    Comment by Steve C. — September 29, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  6. I have always loved Luke 14. I think that this line of thinking is pretty clear about the expectations for involvement in a civil society.

    How active was the Relief Society at this point?


    Comment by Julia — August 29, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  7. The Relief Society is fully functioning in 1928, engaging in social work, running hospitals, participating in civic betterment projects, publishing its Magazine.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — August 29, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  8. That is what I thought. So I assume that the grain elevator that was sent to Euopean Saints was actively gathering wheat, along with the projects you mentioned.

    There were missionaries in the South Sea Islands as well as Europe, Mexico, Canada and the United States. (Did I miss any?)

    There were schools at all levels being run by the members, contributing to the unusually high literacy rate.

    I think it is wonderful that instead of congratulating themselves at getting up to 80% VT and HT, and 50-70% tithing, the Saints were being asked to think about the additional things they could do, and how to do them

    Even then they must have had some of the strange twisting of thoughts to try to justify the withholding of liberal donations, since the lesson specifies that the concept of hospitality is natural within Polynesian culture and other primitive cultures. In others words, sharing is the kind and natural thing. To withhold it, you have to turn yourself away from the natural inclinations of your Spirit.

    These lessons have been very peaceful for my soul. Thanks!


    Comment by Julia — August 29, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

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