Is Cleanliness Next to Godliness?

Mothers have long tried to motivate their children to pick up their toys and make their beds by telling them that “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” We know that this adage isn’t found in the Bible, so it’s not true…or is it? Can outward displays, including the cleanliness of our homes, tell us something about the Godliness of our hearts?

We convince ourselves that we are doing okay if we are faithful in big things. Scripture teaches that it matters if we are faithful in little things, too.

I recently went through a lame duck period at my job. (“Lame duck” is a term generally used in politics to describe an elected official who is nearing the end of his or her tenure. Because the official isn’t concerned about reelection, he or she may take it easy and not put much effort into his or her work.) In preparation for the baby my husband and I will welcome this fall, I submitted a letter of resignation to my employer. I had little motivation to focus and put effort into my work. After all, what were they going to do? Fire me?

As I made my bed one morning last week I was thinking about how great it would be when I didn’t have to work my job anymore. I’d have all day to see to homemaking tasks. I’d be able to keep up with the laundry, the house would be spotless, I’d have time to make more homemade baked goods, etc. As I was thinking this, the Lord convicted me of my lack of effort in my job. He reminded me of this:

If you will not be faithful in a job someone else is paying you to do, then you will also lack faithfulness in your work as a homemaker.

I was feeling laziness in my heart and this laziness was manifesting itself as lack of effort in my job. Resigning from my job didn’t address the laziness. The Bible teaches that our actions are determined by the conditions of our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Unless I address what is happening in my heart, the laziness will continue to manifest itself in whatever task is before me.

This brings us back to the title of this post. While I do not believe that the cleanliness of your home (or your car or body) determines your standing before the Lord, I do believe that these can be reflections of what is going on in your heart. What’s going on in your heart, of course, does determine your standing before the Lord.

Sometimes things get busy and housecleaning falls by the wayside. We all experience this. If I’m honest with myself, though, I know that sometimes my house is messy for other reasons. Sometimes it’s because of my heart issues—laziness, selfishness, misplaced priorities, etc.

How do you see your heart issues being manifested? Are the insecurities in your heart manifested through exaggeration and bragging on social media? Is the slothfulness in your heart manifested as a refusal to exercise? Is the selfishness in your heart manifested by an unwillingness to give to those in need?

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re doing okay as long as we are faithful in the big things (go to church, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, give to the needy at Christmas, etc.). However, Scripture shows us that it matters if we’re faithful in the little things. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between our faithfulness in the small things and our trustworthiness with larger things (Luke 16:10-12).

What heart issues are influencing your actions? Will you join me in closely examining your heart and addressing these issues so we can be faithful in all things—both large and small?

Shared on the following link-ups:

Titus 2sday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Living Proverbs 31, Making Your Home Sing, Essential Fridays, Thriving Thursday & Thrive @ Home.


  1. Norma VanMatre says:

    Very much food for thought! Great post. Thank you!

  2. charlotte thiel says:

    Ouch! That got too close to home too many times. I think it will be thought provoking many times. I hope some of it sinks in.

  3. Great post. Personally, I function better in order, but I have learned that doesn’t mean things need to be perfect.

    • Shannon says:

      I agree that things don’t have to be perfect. It’s much more about an attitude of the heart than it is about perfect execution.

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