1. I clean as an act of service.
I need to see cleaning as a way to serve those who come to my home. It is not welcoming when our friends can’t open our door because of the pile of shoes in their way. It’s not welcoming when we can’t sit down at the dinner table because of the pile of papers and books. It’s not welcoming if I don’t have a mug clean and ready to share a cup of coffee. I want my home to be welcoming to anyone who stops by. The space we have is a gift from the Lord. We are responsible to steward it well for his glory, and part of that means making sure my home is ready when people need it.
My perspective really changed when I realized that I have people who live in my home who should also feel welcome there. This article by Jen Wilkin on seeing our children as our closest neighbors was heart changing. I’m the type who would let everything go and then rush to hide the stacks of dirty dishes when someone said they were on their way over. It was good that I wanted my friend to feel welcome, but I should want my children to feel welcome in their own home too. That means having a lived-in, comfortable home that is clean enough.
2. I clean as an act of stewardship.
I had to come to terms with what it means to steward what I’ve been given. God has graciously given me a roof over my head and a comfortable place to live. He has graciously filled it with all the things that make it home for us. I should care for it well. I think about the parable of the tenants, and I want to be a servant who has more than what I was given when the Lord returns, to be able to give it back to him. I want to be faithful in the little things like cleaning toilets and washing dishes, things that nobody seems to notice until they aren’t done, because this is what the Lord has given to me, and I have the responsibility to steward it well.
The Spirit has used the task of cleaning my home to refine me. He has shown me where I’m not ready to love people well, when I’m not ready to spend the effort to help them to feel welcome, when I would rather not invite someone over than to clean a little for them. Or, he has convicted me when I’m willing to serve friends by cleaning before they come over, but I’m not willing to do the same for my family on a regular basis. He has shown me my pride when I’ve wanted recognition from someone that I made it through the laundry pile, and I didn’t get a pat on the back. He has used cleaning to shape me to do the little things.
When I think of cleaning my home, I regularly think of these verses from Luke 16:10-12:
- “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with what is genuine?”
Cleaning as Spiritual Formation
Cleaning my home is a little, unseen part of my weekly work. It is an opportunity to steward many of the gifts that God has given me to bless the people who live in and come to my home. Cleaning feels like a very small thing. But if I can’t be faithful in these small and worldly things, why would God trust me with what is genuine?
The work of cleaning my home has formed me to see people differently and care for them better. It has formed me to be faithful with the little, unseen tasks. It has humbled me to be ready to do whatever the Lord asks. Because today it’s folding laundry and washing dishes.