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4 Tips from the Bible for being a good guest

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Adhering to these manners can ensure you’ll get invited back again and again.

If someone invites you to stay in their home for any length of time—be that for dinner or a weeklong stay—be a good guest. There are a few common sense tips it behooves us all to keep in mind: say thank you, don’t make fun of the host’s wifi password, clean up after yourself, listen to music at a slightly lower volume than you do normally, go with the flow, offer to help unclog the toilet you clogged up, and if you have specific scheduled plans or food needs, give your host a heads up a little while before you come. 

But here are a few more tips that have been around forever, and you can find them in any Bible. Following these tips will increase the chances that your hosts will find your a wonderful guest that they want to invite back!

1
Don’t overstay your welcome.

Proverbs 25:17 reminds us bluntly: “Let your foot be seldom in your neighbors’ house, lest they have their fill of you—and hate you.” The same rings true for guests no matter where they come from. Even if you’re having a wonderful time, staying an extra day or two, or an extra couple hours at dinner, may be taxing for your hosts. Knowing when to leave is an art. Leaving too early may leave your hosts wondering what they did wrong, so a good way to judge is to simply ask honestly, “I’m having a great time, but don’t want to put you out. Should I leave soon?”

2
Eat what is placed before you.

Paul exhorts Christians in First Corinthians to “eat whatever is placed before you, without raising questions on grounds of conscience.” (1st Corinthians 10: 27). Jesus also backs this up when he instructs his apostles to, “Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you” (Luke 10:7). Eating what is placed before you is something we teach children. But it’s helpful to remember that just because we grow up and have more independence, knowledge, and preferences about foodit’s still polite to eat what is given to us graciously. If you have food allergies or sensitivities it is best to make your host aware of them in advance.

3
Don’t overindulge.

When you’re eating as a guest of royalty, “stick the knife in your gullet if you have a ravenous appetite” says Proverbs 23: 2. That’s a rather intense image and I don’t recommend stabbing yourself if you are eating too much at anyone’s home. But it’s a good reminder! Maybe your host has some amazing butterscotch cookie bars that are the tastiest thing you have ever eaten. Or maybe in general everything your host cooks is delicious. This is not an excuse to overeat. Your host will probably be flattered that you like the cookies at your second cookie — but maybe not at the fifth. 

4
Be humble.

Don’t expect the world to revolve around you as a guest. “Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 14: 10-11)

Would a modern equivalent to what Jesus is talking about here be choosing to sit at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving? Maybe! But the general principle is a good one for us to apply when we are guests at any function. Have a spirit of selflessness not selfishness when you are visiting others. 

Happy guesting! 

 

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