Household Management! · Spiritual Musings

The Law and Order

Legalism has a way of creeping into every area of life including home management. It often wears different masks, but the heart is still the same: using our outward behavior as a means of righteousness and peace. If legalism has crept into your pursuit of home management you may find yourself using your cleanliness of house and finishing your to-do list as a source of peace and righteousness (all is right with me because I was able to perform up to my personal standards). Don’t get me wrong, there is very sweet peace that comes from obedience to God in whatever form it takes whether it be folding laundry or reading a book to your toddler. The test generally comes  when you aren’t performing up to your standard. If your house is messy and to-do list incomplete, do you find yourself anxious and angry? When you lay your head on your pillow at night, do you rest in His righteousness alone, or are you factoring in how well you lived up to your own personal performance standards? You can also find legalism lurking behind the guilt and condemnation that keeps us from the hope-filled, godly conviction of sin. We stay living under a cloud of guilt because we just know that we should be performing better.

Whether your house is sparkling clean, or you need a catapult to get you from the front door to the kitchen isn’t necessarily an indication of keeping home to the glory of God. If legalism drives the train, a overly neat house could actually indicate wrong priorities. If the kids watched videos all day, you ignored conflict among the siblings, and are exhausted by the time your husband gets home, chances are your tidy home came at a price that shouldn’t have been paid.  If legalism drives the train, a messy house can cause guilt and condemnation even if it’s messy because you were pursuing right priorities. Some days the house may be less orderly because the children were constantly interrupting, you weren’t feeling well, or maybe you spent the day picking apples or choosing pumpkins with the kids. 

I am aware that this topic is full of land minds for people reading it.  When I taught this last week, people listening got the “full teaching” all at once, not just the step by step I am doing on the blog. Please hang in there. Chances are I will address what you are scratching your head about. Also, leave comments so I can check the barometer with which this is being received. I would love input, and it’s fine if you want to leave it anonymously.

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7 thoughts on “The Law and Order

  1. “If your house is messy and to-do list incomplete, do you find yourself anxious and angry?”

    Uh, yeah. Pretty sad. Especially when it’s a Saturday and I end up more angry and anxious than at work, just because I didn’t finish my list. Just ask Josh. Sigh. And it’s not like anyone else cares (Josh doesn’t) just me.

    “Whether your house is sparkling clean, or you need a catapult to get you from the front door to the kitchen isn’t necessarily an indication of keeping home to the glory of God.”

    Yes! Excellent point! I should tape that to my fridge! Seriously!

  2. So when your husband comes across as the voice of legalism, then what? I feel almost constantly defeated,whether from laziness on bad days or not having done enough on good days.

  3. This part of your talk was probably the most powerful portion for me right now. I love lists. I love organizing. Though I don’t exactly love the act of cleaning, I love cleanliness. Such things are actually a thrill for me. Pretty sad, eh? (You’d think I’d like the rush of riding scooters in another country, where traffic is insane and we’d be fearing for our lives, or something! Nope.) And for years I have just attributed this to my personality… a “cleanie” as you put it. It was far easier to accept that than address the real issue going on.

    Like Danielle, I too find myself both anxious and angry if the house isn’t clean and my to-dolist unfinished. And, go figure, the way those emotions play out in my interaction with Paul is far more detrimental and awful than the fact that things aren’t in order the way I’d like them to be!

    So, thank you Laurie. Thank you for your gentle reminder of the many masks of legalism that cloud our ability to glorify God with our lives in even the little things in life. It was just what I needed on a day when I’ve been running around like a mad woman trying to get ready for care group at our house tonight. Hmmmm. Coincidence that I stopped for what was only supposed to be 5 min. to blog???? I think not.

  4. This post spoke to me: My children seem to get the brunt of my anger when our home is…let’s say, not so neat… I know it’s wrong, but I catch myself doing it anyway. The truth is, it all boils down to legalism, because I am afraid of raising lazy children; A sure sign of a sinner according to my ancestors. I am working on this area. It is hard though because I hear the voice of my granny saying, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. That’s it though…cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but certainly doesn’t REPLACE Godliness. God has really grabbed a hold of me on this one by opening up my sphere of influence and getting me out of the house (now that my kids are all in school). I literally would have lived my life attempting to have the cleanest house on the planet otherwise and for all the wrong reasons.
    Thanks for another gentle reminder.

  5. This summer I taught a Bible Study on idolatry and one of the things that rose to the surface for me was two of my biggest idols: other peoples’ approval and gaining my value through performance. And boy, do these show up in the area of housework!
    You said, “…chances are your tidy home came at a price that shouldn’t have been paid“…preach on, sister!
    When I described the practice of infant/child sacrifice to idols, many women in the room gasped. I am becoming increasingly convinced, however, that when I bow to the idol of a clean or organized home (or the desires that drive me to achieve that as an end result), I am sacrificing my children at its altar.
    An orderly home isn’t always idol-worship, but you’re right—a heart that finds peace through that kind of legalism is one that has “wrong priorities.” At best, it means I’m “being burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) At worst, I’ve replaced the #1 spot with a cheap, powerless imitation that is much closer to idol-worship than worship of God himself.
    I just realized that (a) this comment is too long (b) I probably should just blog about it and (c) my lack of tact and gentleness oozes over into my commenting. So sorry.
    I just was so encouraged and challenged and set afire by this post that I couldn’t (or at least, didn’t!) help myself!
    Keep it up!

  6. Ann, it would be difficult to address your situation via comment box. Do you have a caregroup leader or a mentor you could speak to about this?

    Catbird, thank you for sharing. I love long comments…usually :). I am grateful for your insight and hope to share briefly about idols that hinder us from glorifying God through keeping home. I would love for you to post about it.

  7. My house is messy most days I have two little boys and we are all home so it is a mess. I remember hanging out with a friend of mine that is not a Christian yet her words spoke volumes to me. She was an interior decorator and had the most beautiful home. I would go over to her house to hang out and let our boys play together and would be amazed how clean her house was. One day I said to her “You are amazing! I can’t believe how clean your house is with two little boys! My house never looks this good.” To which she responded, “Bethany, my kids are in school and I work all day. We are never here for it to get dirty. I wish my house was dirty, it would mean we were home enjoying it.”

    So most the time my house is a little on the messy side but I feel convicted the times I am having people over and in my quest to have the perfect house I sacrifice my children speaking harshly with them, not being patient etc etc. I have really been working on letting people see the real me…and inviting them over regardless of how my house looks. Not that I would do that for something special or planned that seems rude not to clean but I am trying to make an effort to factor that in to my scheduling of such events so my family doesn’t suffer. Big learning process though.

    So I think I bounce between the needing it to be perfect (when guests come) being rude to my family to reach that goal and if it can’t be perfect why bother attitude (when it is just my family). Ouch guess I am just looking to keep up appearances for the wrong reasons.

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