Have you ever considered how biblical homemaking can be a form of art?
I know you might not feel this way when the daily work of homemaking is hard, or you don’t feel good at it, or nothing stays done for long… but consider with me how biblical homemaking can create art that is both temporal and eternal…
I remember first learning about the concept of temporal art in my high school classroom. It seemed a strange, but intriguing concept to me – that artists would create something of beauty that would only last for a brief time, on purpose.
Sand sculptures, ice sculptures and even live performances can all be classified as temporal art forms.
But why would you spend all that time on something that’s not going to last? Teenage me couldn’t grasp how it wasn’t a massive waste of time.
Thirty-something me is starting to understand…
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you choose to purchase through them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
How does art glorify God?
When we say something is “art” there are two things we usually mean by this:
- That it’s “a skill acquired by study, experience or observation”, or
- That it’s “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects”
There’s no doubt that homemaking is an art in the first sense – it’s a skill we can learn over time by our experience, careful study and observation of homemakers before us. But for the purposes of this article, I’m referring to the latter definition – that homemaking is (and is a means to create) art in the sense of “producing aesthetic objects”.
So we might then want to ask – does art glorify God? Or is it strictly something we do for human pleasure, but which is completely disconnected from our relationship to God?
The main way art glorifies God is by imaging His nature as Creator. When we create works of art, it’s a testimony to the fact that we’ve been created in God’s image – we are creators (with a little ‘c’).
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”Colossians 1:16
Secondly, when we create art and enjoy it, our pleasure in the process and the beauty glorifies God, because He is the one who both created beauty and created in us the ability to enjoy beauty.
God made us to create, and He made us to enjoy creation.
Thirdly, when we create things of beauty for others to enjoy, our service and love for others glorifies God. Taking the time to create something beautiful for others to enjoy says that we love them enough to spend our time and effort on them, and that we want them to enjoy the object of our creation.
What is biblical homemaking?
First we need to answer this question: what makes biblical homemaking different from simply doing tasks to manage the home?
The physical tasks of homemaking change from decade to decade, century to century. For example, homemakers in years past had the benefit of regular fresh air and rigorous exercise being a regular part of their daily routine and the work required to keep house, however they had very little leeway to take a day off or even to rest during illness. Today, as homemakers, we have the benefit of more time- and labour-saving devices than we know what to do with, but we need to be intentional about getting outside and getting regular exercise.
When we look at the Proverbs 31 woman we might be tempted to dismiss her example since we can’t relate to half the things she does. While we might not relate to many of the tasks she completes, we can certainly learn from her attitude and approach:
- She is trustworthy (v11)
- She does good to her husband (v12)
- She works with willing hands (v13)
- She is not lazy (v15)
- She considers others (v15)
- She cares for the poor (v20)
- She is proactive (v21)
- She is strong and dignified (v25)
- She is content, not worried (v25)
- She speaks with wisdom and kindness (v26)
- She fears the Lord (v30)
So while the physical work of being a homemaker has changed (and will continue to change) dramatically, the heart of biblical homemaking remains the same.
It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you serve. Biblical homemaking is not about making a nice home for the sake of personal fulfillment or accomplishment, but about bringing glory to God and showing love for others.
The temporal art of biblical homemaking
I think one of the reasons we find it hard to consider homemaking to be art is because so much of the work we do in the home is fleeting.
We make the food, then it’s eaten.
We vacuum the floors, and crumbs fall again.
We empty the laundry basket, and we need to wash clothes again.
But what if all of this is art, too? What if it’s art, even if it only lasts seconds, even if we’re the only ones who notice?
We might feel that our work in the home doesn’t qualify as art, even the temporal kind, simply because it’s nothing special. But who says your work is nothing special?
Serve your family, and don’t compare yourself with others. Don’t be discouraged if your work in the home isn’t photo-worthy. It all matters…
The simple, calming sight of a neatly made bed.
The scent of freshly washed and line-dried sheets.
The hastily spread vegemite and butter on toast.
The stacked, clean dishes in the cupboard.
The colourful basket of washing in the corner of the room.
The favourite meal, prepared with love.
These things are so small, but they are all little works of art – fleeting works of beauty that you offer to those around you in love, and to the Lord in worship.
The eternal art of biblical homemaking
But these daily, temporal works of art are not the only things of beauty being worked out through our homemaking. The eternal art of homemaking is not what we make with our hands, but what God is making in us as we work with our hands.
God is sanctifying us day by day, making us more like Jesus, until he completes the work He started. And when that work has been completed in us, it will last for all eternity.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18
That’s why we work and endure the hard, the disgusting, and the plain old boring parts of homemaking… There is immense value and beauty and pleasure to be found in our daily art-making in the home, but there is infinitely more to be found in the beauty and glory and holiness God is creating in us.
And certainly, homemaking is not the only thing God uses to sanctify us. But when something makes up a large part of our daily work, that thing will be used powerfully by God to make us more like Jesus. So for those of us who are homemakers, this is going to be a major tool of sanctification for us.
Pursuing excellence, not perfection
My goal in writing this article is to encourage you in your homemaking that everything you do matters and has the potential to be a form of art.
My fear is that so many of us have too low a view of homemaking – we think of it in terms of frills and aprons and baking cupcakes. We think of it as a hobby for the rich – something to occupy those who have nothing better to do.
And if we view it like that, we tend to either run from the work of homemaking, getting by on the bare minimum while filling our time with other things, or we fully embrace the “lazy housewife” stereotype, thinking we’re doing our part by simply being in the home.
I want us to elevate our view of homemaking, seeing it as God does – as work, not a hobby. As fruitful, not wasteful. As art, not as a waste of time.
My goal is not to overwhelm you, to make you feel as though every meal needs to be restaurant-worthy and every floor spotless for it to “count”.
Rather than aiming for perfection (which is impossible), we should aim for excellence. We should aim to improve our skills every day. We should aim to work hard and take delight in the beauty we create in our homes.
And we should do it all to the glory of the God, making beautiful, temporal works of art in our homes as He makes a beautiful, eternal work of art in us.
“Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”Charles Studd
- If you want to expand your vision for homemaking, I highly recommend reading Eve in Exile, by Rebekah Merkle*. I listened to the audio book last year, and I really need to go back – with a highlighter – and read the hard copy. It’s that good!
- For practical homemaking help, I recommend this book which I read many years ago called The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook*. It’s not a small book, nor is it light reading. But it would be great to start out with if you’re new to homemaking, or you feel like you still have a lot to learn.
- I love listening to Marci on The Thankful Homemaker podcast – her episodes are usually around 20 minutes long, and they are filled with both practical homemaking advice and gospel-centred encouragement.
*This is an affiliate link, which means if you choose to buy through this link, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Thanks for this article Jess!
Because I’ve got a perfectionistic tendency in most things I do, the idea of aiming for excellence, rather than perfection is helpful. I’m just learning after many years to attempt cleaning windows, kitchen cupboards etc and giving it my best shot, rather than thinking “I won’t be able to do it perfectly, so I won’t even try.”
My mother (your grandmother) worked so hard with her hands: sewing our clothes when we were younger, knitting, cooking dinner each night and making beautiful cakes etc. She brought glory to God and showed His love to us through these aspects of her homemaking. Sadly, she lost her mother at the age of three and her home life was difficult. But amazingly, God did a supernatural work in her, enabling her to do these things. Psalm 90 verse 17 says: Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.”