I’ve wanted to be a homemaker and a stay-at-home-mum since my teen years. And once I got married, I threw myself into homemaking (or what I thought was homemaking) whole-heartedly.
I painted a canvas for our lounge-room wall in colours that matched the second-hand lounges from my grandparents. I sewed aprons and I baked cupcakes. I picked out throw cushions for the bed and the cutest shower curtain I could find.
Was I having fun? Yes.
But I was missing the point.
Because while the décor looked great, the sink was full of dishes, the dust accumulated on the carpet and the budget was neglected. On a surface level, you could say I was prioritising the things I wanted to do, over the things I needed to do. But my priorities were symptomatic of my deeper problem…
I was missing the whole purpose of homemaking.
Like the cup Jesus spoke about – dirty on the inside, but sparkling clean on the outside – my homemaking was all about appearance, and completely neglected the heart of homemaking.
A well-made home is not the point
When we think of the term “homemaking”, chances are it calls to mind images of the stereotypical 1950s housewife, with perfectly managed children and a spotless home. Or in the negative, we might be picturing a boring woman who has nothing more important to think about than whether the new curtains should be peach-coloured or salmon.
The problem with both these views of homemaking is that the home is focused completely on itself – it is looking only inward, not outward.
The homemaker then becomes stuck in a death spiral of self-focus. You can only turn the mirror back on itself so many times before the image becomes completely meaningless.
Having a neat and tidy home, with beautiful décor is nice to look at. I like looking through those images on Pinterest just as much as the next girl. You can hear me audibly sigh with satisfaction when I clear and wipe down my kitchen bench. It’s a pleasing sight!
But a well-made home is not the point. It’s not the end goal of homemaking.
Whether the term “homemaking” elicits positive or negative mental images, we all need to go back to the Bible and ask – what does God say about the home?
What does the Bible say about homemaking?
In God’s word, we see that the home is a place for:
Teaching and training our children in God’s word
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The Christian home is a place to raise up our children and train them to follow Jesus. It’s a place where our children will see and feel the love of God in a tangible way, as well as being verbally taught the Word.
This might be a function of parenting, but it is based in and around the home. And so it must have a bearing on the way we approach our homemaking.
We can’t value spotless floors over hearts that love Jesus.
Fruitfulness and productivity
“Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.”
I won’t quote the whole passage here, but in this famous passage about the rare “woman of noble character”, we see that her work in the home is a source of much productivity and fruitfulness. Her work in and out of the home generates:
- Trust in the heart of her husband
- Garments made with wool and flax
- Food for her family and servants
- Fruit (literally)
- Financial gain, and
- Warm clothing
…just to name a few!
The interesting thing about all the tasks accomplished by the Proverbs 31 woman is that she is not homemaking for the sake of homemaking. She is not doing “busy work”.
She manages her house and her family well for a purpose.
“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
1 Peter 4:9
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
The home is a place where we are to show hospitality – both to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and also to strangers. So when we’re cleaning the house, planning our meals, and even deciding which furniture to buy, we should be doing so with hospitality in mind.
Are pristine white lounges and a bookshelf covered with antique china ornaments going to make you more or less likely to have people over for a meal?
Cleaning before having others over can be a great way to show love for them practically, but it also become a source of pride. If we refuse to have people over until our home is a certain level of cleanliness, tidiness or even put-together-ness, then we might not be valuing hospitality enough in our approach to homemaking.
“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.”
My husband and I had this verse inside the order of service booklet at our wedding because this was part of the vision we had for our home and family from the beginning – that it would always be a place where love and fellowship was prioritised over wealth and pleasure.
Are our homes a place where love is felt? Is the atmosphere warm or chilly?
Do our kids have Instagram-worthy meals but they are never allowed in the kitchen?
It’s better to have a home where there is not much in the way of material possessions and fancy meals, but love is present.
Provision for the poor
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
1 John 3:17
“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
“She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
The Christian home should be a place of generosity, where we give freely to those in need.
This ties in with the points I made above about hospitality and productivity – it’s about being outward looking with our homemaking.
When we are more efficient with our money, food and other resources, we have more available to give.
Honouring and upholding God’s word
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.Then they can 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.”
“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander.”
1 Timothy 5:13-14
Homemaking well is a testament to the truth and goodness of God’s word.
When Christian women faithfully work hard in their homes, God is glorified.
As it says above, the alternative is that we become “idlers, gossips and busybodies” and that the word of God is maligned.
When we manage our homes faithfully and skillfully, we bring glory to God.
Our earthly homes are not forever
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Above all, we have to remember that our earthly homes are not eternal. Our homemaking is kingdom work – it is good work that God has given us to do here.
But it must be for something – pointing to something – beyond itself.
And the great news is that it can.
When we approach our homemaking for God’s glory, according to His design and plan, our homemaking means something and points to something much bigger than ourselves.
What a deep and thought provoking article, Jess! Thankyou.