Cleanliness is next to godliness
Read His Words Before Ours!
“I have a gift for your girls! Are you home?”
“Yes! Come over any time.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be there soon. And Kendra? Do not clean a thing!”
I sighed with relief as I looked around at my lived-in home. There was always laundry to be done, diapers I forgot to throw away lying around, and toys scattered about. It used to bother me much more, but when company comes over my stomach still turns a bit when they see…
This is what my “real life” actually looks like.
That sweet friend came, armed with presents for my girls, and conversation about her days of young motherhood. With her son in college, her days of picking up toys are long gone.
As I showed her my twin toddlers’ infamously messy room, with books and dolls strewn about, she laughed and told me something I will remember for the rest of my life.
My friend is known for her immaculate house.
Her Christmas presents are wrapped in October with large, gold bows tied with precision.
So, I was stunned to hear her tell me this:
“Kendra, if I had it to do over again,
I would spend less time worrying about how clean my house was,
and more time with the people who came to visit.
I can see now that I may have made family members and friends uncomfortable with my constant running around and picking up.
I wish I hadn’t cared so much about how clean my son’s room was.
I wish I would have just spent more time playing with him.”
I smiled as I let her words run over me, knowing I would return later to process what she’d shared.
I began to think of Martha and Mary, the sister duo who welcomed Jesus into their home when He came to visit.
Imagine Jesus literally knocking on your door.
What would you do?!
I would probably pass out, which is totally biblical so that reaction would be justified.
Then, I would honestly welcome Him in,
while apologizing for my house being such a mess.
I would excuse the clothes in the foyer, still needing to go into storage.
I would laugh off the toys on the stairs.
I would explain how I still needed to paint the top of the wainscoting we added.
Then I would invite Him to sit on my couch, while laughing about the fact that I was actually going to clean the cover tonight, so that’s why it was dirty.
How do I know how I would respond?
Because that is literally what I say any time anyone comes over.
But sisters… Jesus doesn’t even care!
How do I know?
Martha’s story. She began serving Jesus as soon as He stepped in the door.
Which sounds totally acceptable!
Except… she spent so much time serving Him, she wasn’t actually being with Him.
She offered Him coffee (Or chai or whatever they drank… Wine?)
She asked Him if He was hungry.
She swept up after Him, hurriedly cleaning,
and getting herself in a tizzy.
Soon, as it usually does, that tizzy turned into frustration.
“Jesus! Don’t you care that I’m working so hard to make You comfortable?
I’m working hard and Mary just sits there!”
Jesus turned compassionate eyes on her, telling her she was getting herself in a tizzy.
He said she was anxious and worried and frantic and none of it even mattered.
He just wanted her to sit and to be.
THAT was her best service.
There’s an age-old saying (which, incidentally, is not in the Bible!), that became popular thanks to Martin Luther:
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
But is it?
A pure heart, washed in forgiveness by the God of all righteousness?
Absolutely; that IS godliness!
Having a clean home? Being a clean person?
Not. A. Chance.
Honestly? Jesus was probably a pretty filthy man, physically speaking.
Barely bathing and walking everywhere, mixing sweat with dust will do that to a person.
(And you can’t get more Godly than Jesus because He IS God…so…)
Having a clean home says nothing about your godliness.
Only the status of your soul determines that.
We will NOT get to Heaven and be drilled for those seven loads of laundry we didn’t do.
God will not ask why we didn’t put away that bin of clothes before our guest arrived.
Instead, His Spirit is ready to prompt us now, just as He did with Martha….
Why are we spending so much time cleaning, serving, running, and doing
that we have a hard time slowing enough to listen to our guest?
Why not take the time to pray with them or show them HOPE?
Why work ourselves into an anxious tizzy (I’m clearly loving that word today)
by expecting perfection in our own appearance,
when the Lord has always cared only about the contents of our heart.
God cares about our hospitality, NOT our house.
Whether brick and mortar or skin and bones.
I am so guilty of this, guys!
If Jesus came today, I would be Martha.
Trying to prove my worth by the appearance of my home and my ability to serve Him.
I would completely miss the opportunity to actually be enthralled with Him.
Cleanliness is NOT next to Godliness.
Cleanliness can get in the way of Godliness.
The need to clean, the urge to perform, it can fill our minds, consuming our actions,
even becoming our idol.
And that isn’t godly at all.
Don’t let pressure and performance hinder you
from investing in people and being at peace with Jesus.
*In my struggle to spend more time with people rather than focus on performance, I’ve found the app “The Fly Lady” to be a helpful reset. Give it a try!
This Bible study first appeared on Gracefully Truthful and is property to Gracefully Truthful, as well. For further studies similar to this one, check out Gracefully Truthful.
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