"For the Lord is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos." Isaiah 45:18
This post is a bit of a departure from my usual. But as we enjoy summer vacations, I have to ask:
Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness? That is the question.
We serve a God of order, not chaos. However, spending time with people is a better priority than spending time cleaning. Remember Mary and Martha? Martha was busy preparing for guests—likely cooking and cleaning—but Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. When Martha complained, Jesus let her know that what Mary did was better. (Luke 10:41-42)
All that being said, don’t despair all you Marthas out there. I’m right here with you. (Only a Martha would write about cleanliness.)
Here are some tips for the Marys to get a handle on order and cleanliness, and for the Marthas to streamline their cleaning so there’s more time to enjoy their blessings.
1. Straighten Every Morning.
Every morning, make the bed and put away stray clothing in the bedroom and bathroom. Pick up items and put them where they belong as you move through the house. Wash dishes and clean up the kitchen. Toss in a load of laundry. Make this a habit, and you’ll start the day one step ahead on housekeeping.
2. A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place.
Designate a place for everything in your home. Organize by sorting. Keep papers, receipts, and bills in a file or desk drawer. Have a spot where each kitchen utensil or pan belongs. Consider where items are used and find a logical home for everything.
3. Don’t Put it Down, Put it Away.
When you’re finished using an item, don’t drop it where you are. Put it where it belongs. Dirty dishes go in the dishwasher, a hairbrush goes back in the drawer, and paperwork belongs in a file. This practice will keep your home neater, plus you’ll be able to find items you’re looking for when you need them.
4. Clean as You Go.
As you’re making dinner, working on a project, or brushing your teeth, clean up any dishes, mess, or spills as they happen. Keep a sponge, rag, or paper towel handy. After meals, leave the dishwasher open for everyone to place their dirty dishes inside. Set the example. When everyone works together, clean up becomes a routine that keeps your home neat and orderly.
5. Use Three Trash Bags.
Sometimes the mess gets away from us and we have a room that needs a major overhaul. Don’t be discouraged. Grab three extra-large, heavy duty trash bags, attack that room and put anything out of place into these three bags.
Bag 1: Trash. Chances are, that messy room contains things that are used up, obsolete, or of no real use to anyone. Toss them in the trash.
Bag 2: Give Away. Messy rooms tend to accumulate items that no one uses anymore. Don’t throw away a perfectly good widget. Donate to a local charity or thrift shop.
Bag 3: Put Away. Items that don’t belong in this room need to find their home. If they don’t have a home, decide whether they belong in your home at all.
Immediately take the ‘trash’ bag out to the trash can. Put the ‘give away’ bag into the trunk of your car to donate the next time you’re out. (Write a note on your grocery list.) Carry the ‘put away’ bag around the house and place items where they belong.
ALWAYS get permission before tossing or donating someone else’s belongings.
IS Cleanliness Next to Godliness?
To finally answer that question, I’ll state a definitive it depends.
When cleanliness is a streamlined way of life that respects people and enhances your time together, that cleanliness honors God and others.
When cleanliness is a regimented way of life that becomes a priority above people and hinders your time together, that cleanliness is akin to a materialistic idol or obsession.
By the same token, when uncleanliness is a way of life that detracts from the health, safety, and wellbeing of those around us, that uncleanliness is akin to laziness or poor priorities.
Let’s strive for cleanliness that honors God, respects others, and enhances our lives.
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