This article is part of our This Moment Matters series. Read previous articles in the series here:
- “Does This Really Matter?” by Gretchen Saffles
- “Being an Ambassador in Your Workplace” by Fernie Cosgrove
- “Why Your Local Church Matters” by Taylor Cage
- “Surrendering Our Wallets to the God of Enough” by Laura Hardin
I avoid getting the mail. There’s nothing particularly horrible about the actual process. In fact, the short walk down our gravel driveway in the clean, fresh breeze of our small farm always lifts my heart from the doldrums. It’s what the mail signifies that gets me. The mail is a harbinger of mundane tasks: sorting, recycling, paying bills, and the most monotonous task of all—filing. It’s one of those tasks of life that I just despise. It feels menial, small, insignificant.
But it's not just filing. So much of what fills the majority of my days feels practically important but eternally insignificant. But what I feel doesn’t determine the truth. In actuality, I don't hate all housework. And I don’t worry over whether the housework I enjoy—decorating, cooking, gardening, and (don’t hate me) folding the laundry—has value. It’s the other stuff—filing, cleaning the kitchen, picking up the endless debris of life, and overseeing my sons as they finish their household chores—that I question the value of. But enjoyment doesn’t determine value. All housework—both the satisfying and the tedious—has meaning when done by the power of the Holy Spirit and for God's glory. It is this shift of my heart and motivation that transforms housework from a list of tedious tasks into kingdom work with eternal purpose.
Housework is kingdom work because it is stewardship.
Before sin ever marred this earth, God gave humans a job: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). This command comes within the creation narrative, where we see God bring order and design to our world, then culminating creation by making man in his own image. God created us in his own image to be stewards of creation. When we diminish the value of housework, we deny the glory of God’s original design. But whenever we subdue the laundry, are fruitful in our efforts to make dinner, and even design a new filing system with a heart submitted to God’s good plan, we are responding to God's calling on our lives to live for his glory, not our own (1 Cor. 10:31).
Housework is kingdom work because it's an opportunity for humble service.
Is anything more humbling than scrubbing a toilet? We must get low, kneeling down to remove the body's waste from the floor, the porcelain exterior, the murky waters of the bowl. Yet, I believe that yes—there are plenty of household chores that require more humility than cleaning the toilet. These are the chores we feel should be the responsibility of someone else in our homes: our roommates, children, or husband. Leaning over to pick up a husband's dirty socks, doing the dirty dishes of a roommate, or wiping the butt of a child old enough to do it themselves, and doing these things with love instead of anger, is truly the most humble work of the home.
It's the kind of work that can only be done when God is at work within us. It's the kind of work that requires us to "in humility count others more significant than yourselves" by following the path of ever-increasing humility laid out by our Savior (Phil. 2:3–4, 6–8). But it is in following this path of lowness that we experience the kingdom of God as described by Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt. 16:24–25). Housework is full of opportunities to lay down our lives, and when we do so, we find the kind of meaningful life we’ve been searching for.
Housework is kingdom work because it sanctifies us.
Sanctification sometimes happens in the momentous, watershed moments, but it primarily happens in the small and seemingly inconsequential work of our everyday lives. Housework is the perfect conduit for soul work. It requires submission to smallness and endless opportunities for humility as we do what will soon be undone and work in the primarily unseen. Few people will ever know that we did our tasks, and even less will rejoice in it.
In this small, unseen place, we have ample opportunities to work out our salvation as God works within us. This is where we can repent and redo and rejoice. This is our spiritual training ground. But the soul work done as we do housework is a sweet mystery because as we work to grow in holiness, it is really God who works within us (Phil 2:12–13).
Housework is kingdom work because no moment where we’re working by the strength God provides to do something our flesh cries out against is unimportant. Through submission to his sovereignty, God renews our souls into something more kingdom-minded than it was yesterday, and in this slow progression, we find ourselves sanctified. Not yet what we ought to be, but closer than we were before. If we choose to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, housework will transform us from the inside out.
Housework is kingdom work because it is an opportunity for worship.
The result of the painstaking sanctification that happens in our hearts as we do the work of our homes is a thankful heart in awe of its Savior. Soon, we start to see that housework is not only an opportunity to be working in the kingdom of God, but also an opportunity for the King of kings to be at work in our hearts. We see in these mundane tasks a special, set aside time for prayer, Scripture memorization and meditation, and even worship with our bodies as well as our mouths as we blast some praise music in our headphones.
Don’t miss the final reminder in this well-known verse about doing things for the glory of God: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). How do we do things in the name of Jesus? By giving thanks to God. As we see God at work in our hearts in the most menial of tasks, let us turn our hearts to him in gratefulness. Let us worship the one who made us to work. Let us discover joy in following the humble path laid out by our humble Savior. And let us work out of awe for the work he’s done in us—and will not stop doing in us—until the day we enter his kingdom (Phil. 1:6).