Cleanliness ≠ Godliness

By Kimberly Schluterman

My mom always wondered why I couldn’t keep my room clean. She said that if I would just put things away when I was done with them, it would stay clean. If I wait until it’s a mess, I’m never going to want to clean it. It’s a chore. But if I keep it clean, it’s always done. As she told me this, I pondered how was it possible that my parents’ room was always clean. (Maybe I wasn’t getting her message?) Occasionally there’d be some clothes on the floor, but they didn’t stay there for long.

Despite years of bucking her system, I have finally concluded that my mom’s way is indeed superior to mine. For the longest time, I argued that ours were just different ways. But not anymore. I’m sorry Mom, you were right. My way stinks. Honestly, I still don’t know how you do it.

Now I have almost 2000 square feet to keep clean and I can’t even walk to my side of the bed. It’s official; I’m a colossal failure in the housekeeping department. My husband doesn’t mind because he’s even messier than I am. But I’d like to be a cleaner, neater person. I’m a total neat freak at work, and that’s how I perceive myself. It’s quite shocking to get home to the scene of an apparent natural disaster and realize that this mess is mine. By age 25, I think I should have figured it all out by now. But I haven’t, and instead of doing anything about it, I took a nap after work today.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up. No. Instead, I have devised a brilliant system that is positively foolproof (I think). Here’s my plan: don’t make a mess. If I make a mess, clean it up. Vacuum and dust on the same day every week. Clean the toilets, mirrors and sinks no less than once a month. Run the dishwasher on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

To be honest, I’ve never accomplished any two consecutive days on the above plan. I guess when it comes to keeping up with my home, I = epic failure. Oh well. If cleanliness really is next to Godliness, I’m in trouble. I don’t know what that adage really means, but maybe there is some truth to it. Certainly cleanliness of spirit is next to Godliness.

In Psalm 51:10, David requests, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Whether or not I run my dishwasher on Wednesday or Thursday is incredibly insignificant when compared to whether or not I spend time with the Father each day. If you can eat off my floor, but there are sin stains in my heart, I’m thinking God wouldn’t be very pleased with me. I may have four days worth of dirty dishes piled up, a month’s worth of laundry (guilty), and a bathroom counter that is practically a Petri dish of bacteria, but in the eternal sense, that’s all OK as long as my spirit is pure and steadfast.

My mom most certainly would not think those things are ok, no matter the state of my heart, but I’m trying to make a point here. (Sorry, Mom.) Certainly, cleanliness is not equivalent to godliness, but maybe that saying means that after your soul is in good shape, you should tend to your house as a matter of first priority. Hmm. I’ll think that through as I’m napping this afternoon.

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