Does God Care About How You Do Your Housework?
Does how you do your housework matter, in the grand scheme of things?
I’m not talking about whether you choose Pine Sol or Mr. Clean for tough jobs, air your beds out in the morning or make them right away, or if you get to the yearly spring cleaning of the windows. (Note: It’s spring again. They probably need a once over.)
I’m talking about your motives (and motivation) for homemaking. Does Scripture speak to this? It does.
It contrasts two ways to live in Titus, one way denies the gospel, the other is behavior fitting of the gospel, and Titus covers our home life in these passages. (Titus 1&2) First, see what is said of those who talk the right talk, but don’t walk the right walk.
Those who claim to know God but their lifestyle denies knowing Him:
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” Titus 1:16.
Then we read how we should live: right words and actions.
Those who know God and have not forgotten the gospel:
“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine...For (because) the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you. (Titus 2:1,11-15)
Because of this world altering event, the coming of Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin and death, as grateful recipients of this mercy, we should live a certain way, different than the world that denies God, as we wait for his second coming!
In the grand scheme of things, HOW we do our work does matter and God does have an opinion and a claim on our homemaking.
Titus 2:5 instructs the older women to speak into the younger women’s lives on certain issues.
“...urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
Did your mind automatically jump to the instruction to be a keeper at home?
Not so fast…that’s the easy way out. It’s tempting to skip ahead to the “what to do” part of the checklist, and miss the “who to be” part.
God cares about who we are inside, and we should as well. Why? If we are not who we should be on the inside, we are always the wrong tool for God’s jobs. Always.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.2 Timothy 2:21
So much of our life is spend in the kitchen, making meals, planning celebrations, folding laundry, washing dishes! And God does care about all of our life and work!
Our motives for cooking, cleaning, tidying up always has to be done for God’s glory, as a way to love Him and others, and so that the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ is not maligned or ill-spoken of because of our behavior.
As followers of Christ, we have no “secular” jobs. All our work can be done as an offering of worship to God.
Romans 12: 1 urges us “in view of God’s mercy” in our lives, to offer our body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. We are told that this is our true and proper worship. This isn’t a Sunday morning thing, friend. It’s not a Wednesday night thing…it’s an all day, everyday thing.
Do you think of washing the dishes as worship? Can you fold the laundry or make the dinner in a holy way? You can and should. Everything we do in life, yea, even the folding of the laundry can be done as unto the Lord.
Loving God and others in the close knit community of family is where the rubber meets the road and where dying to self and choosing humility is required.
At the end of a long day, someone has to do the dishes, bathe the kids, and pick up kids’ toys. This where our character is on display.
Work requires self-sacrifice because we are limited in time and energy. When menial labor bumps into our desire for comfort and free time, being a disciple of Jesus Christ is the pattern we follow.
Think of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords kneeling down, stooped over his disciples’ dirty feet with a towel and washbasin. Why on earth would he stoop and do this?
He tells us why:
When Jesus had washed their feet and put on His outer garments, He reclined with them again and asked, “Do you know what I have done for you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, because I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.John 13:12-17
Warning: If love for God fails to be our over-arching motivation for our work at home, we are no longer worshipping.
As sinners, we specialize in deviant worship. We are famous for pursuing gods that are not God, and living for self-focused ends.
When we fail to worship God as we work, we can become homemaking libertines tempted to become judicious about how much work I do, asking “Is this really my job?!” If self-sacrifice is require, we ask “Who is my neighbor?” to see just how far my duty extends and how little I HAVE to do. We justify lack of desire (and love) by careful calculation. We do what is expected, no more. We only serve if we benefit. We’ll refuse to do anyone else’s work when they clearly have two hands and two feet and can do it themselves. Or we’ll disappear or zone out when the work needs to be done. This is basic human selfishness. Someone else will do it. I don’t have to do it every day. I have better things to do.
Or we become homemaking pharisees, doing the right thing in public but for the wrong reasons. This is more common than we think. We prop up our own goodness, use our high standards as a measuring stick to show how others just don’t meet up. Homemaking pharisees are self-appointed guides and critics. They work hard so they won’t look lazy. They crave approval and applause. When they don’t get the respect they thought they deserved, they pout or punish and use guilt as a currency. After all they’ve done for you, you own them. Homemaking pharisees major on minors, condemning all who fall short of their standards.
Or we can become homemaking legalists who live by a checklist, not because we are super organized, but to show what we’ve accomplished and to monitor what everyone else should accomplish. Things need to be done a certain way…the right way…the legalists way. You’ll establish your kitchen as your sovereign domain and you’ll rule unchallenged or make everyone miserable. Legalists love one-upmanship, showing how conscientious you are, proving your worth. You’ll spend lots of time policing others and comparing how you they doing. Homemaking legalists are smug in their self-righteousness, look down on others who aren’t doing it right, and hence, are nearly impenetrable to the gospel grace that frees us from self performance and demands humility as a lifestyle.
When we morph into one of these three unlovely homemakers, we twist our purpose of glorifying God and make ourselves completely unusable by God in that moment no matter how vigorously we scrub the floor or tidy the countertops. A defiant, self-focused woman is never the right tool.
Oh, how easily we drift into these three homemaking places of the libertine, pharisee, or legalist. I see myself in all of these selfish places, depending on the day, depending on the mood. If you see yourself here now, the good news is that you can repent and be forgiven and begin again!
Haven’t you found that loving God and others changes everything? It changes your motivation. You WANT to do it, so you do.
When I see all of life as a blessing,
when I see my tasks as God-ordained,
when I recognize that my home is full of people who I am called to love and serve in this place, time, and moment,
that this is my mission from God and a practical way that I can serve Him as I serve them, I will be more apt to approach my work with heavenly vision and holy hands and I’ll be in the right frame of mind to truly worship as I work.
Have you ever found yourself in one of these three homemaking pitfalls? How do you remind yourself that you are serving God as you serve others? Share your stories or strategies in the comments.