As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.
And here I may say, in carrying out this work, beware, while you do not neglect home, that you do not confine the disclosure of yourself to your own household. It is right for a bird to make herself a nest, and put the finest moss and softest feathers in that nest, and it is right that she should sit upon it. It is right that she should have but one chamber — for birds never build for more than themselves and their own. But they are only bird, and do not know any better. It is for us to build a broad nest. To build it so that nobody can get into it but ourselves, to line it with our own prosperity, and so selfishly fill it with everything that is sweet and soft — that is not right. I think that a man's house ought to be a magazine of kindness. Its windows ought to send out light. I like, when I go by a house at night, to see the window-shutters open, so that the light shines forth from inside. A person says, "I will put this clump of flowers under the parlour window." No, no; put them by the gate. A thousand will see them there, where one would see them in that other place. A person says, "I will put this plant where nobody can reach it." Well, do; but put two close to the fence, where they can be reached. I like to see little hands go through the pickets and pluck off flowers. And if you say, "That is stealing," then let it be understood through all the neighbourhood that it is not stealing. There are some who seem to have such a sense of property that if they had a hundred magnolia trees in full blossom on their premises, they would want the wind to blow from the north, and south, and east, and west, so that all the fragrance would come into their own house; whereas the true spirit would be a desire that a thousand others should be blessed by these bounties as well as themselves. Make your dwelling beautiful; but not for your own eyes alone. Fill it sumptuously, if you have the grace to rightly use that sumptuosity. Let the feet of the poor step on your plushy carpet. Let their eyes behold the rich furniture of your apartments. Would it make their home less to them? Not necessarily. If you take a child by the hand — you, whose name is great in the town; you, who tower up in power above all your neighbours; if you lay your hand on his head, and call him "Sonny;" if you bring him into your house; if you go to the cupboard and take out the unfamiliar cake, or what not, that children so much like (for the senses must be appealed to in childhood before the spirit can be reached; and by feeding the mouth of a child you come to his affections and feelings); if you show him your rooms, and give him something in his pocket to carry home and show his aunt or sister, do you suppose that child ever thinks you are stuck up, or looks on you with an unkindly eye? When he comes into the neighbourhood again, and your house dawns upon him, he remembers, the moment he sees it, how happy you made him there. And that house of yours can be made to bless generation after generation.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.