“Mommy, I like going to Miss Kitty’s house,” my young son shared from his car seat on the ride home. Why, I asked. “Because it’s so warm.”
I was surprised by his answer.
Miss Kitty was a dear friend, a classy energetic woman in our small church who was widowed at age 58. I expected my 4-year-old to say, “She’s nice,” or, “I like her cookies.” Instead this profound answer from my little one told me he sensed something else more intangible, something eternal or transcendent in her presence.
My little Benjamin felt this single woman’s warm welcome, her kind acceptance of rambunctious kids, her engaging interest in our family, her heart of kindness and love for anyone who crossed her threshold. My child taught me in that moment the value of making a home. He reminded me my work at home matters more than I imagined.
Titus 2:4-5 describes one of the duties for wives as a worker at home, which means in Greek, “to fulfill one’s household duties.” It means Christian wives “should fulfill their duties at home; they shouldn’t avoid working at home.”* In other words don’t delegate or hire out everything related to your home and family even if you can actually afford to do so.
If you can afford a cleaning service or a food service like Blue Apron, or regular babysitters, go for it. This verse is not against help for wives and mothers! But what you shouldn’t delegate or hire out is what makes your house a home. That is the building and development of relationships with God and with one another.
It’s the work of growing little people into adults who love God and understand His authority in their lives. It’s cultivating a marriage that reflects the Trinity, celebrates the joy of God’s plan for husbands and wives, and models for all who watch the pattern that works for a lifetime. It’s the making of your house into a home and your home into an embassy that welcomes family, friends, and strangers over the years to learn more about who Jesus is. This kind of home is what my little son described as warm.
The woman-wife-mother of Proverbs 31 gives us a glimpse into what a worker at home looks like. And because it’s a chapter in the inerrant Word of God it’s more than just a nice story. It is approved by God Himself.
Running a business, tending and/or supervising gardens or a farm, working or leading a local charity for the poor are just three of the jobs in this Proverbs 31 woman’s resume. Yet it is clear from the entire passage–which begins with a description of her marriage and ends with another description of her children and husband–that all her outside jobs, missions, and responsibilities are in the context of her first priorities: her marriage and family. This woman’s life and all it’s radiating rings of influence begin at home.
Part of her epitaph reads, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her.” I can tell you with certainty: children and husbands do not praise a mother and wife who did not devote the best of her life, her love, her prayers, her energies to these people God gave her to love. This love in cooperation with Him, develops her husband and children into more Christ likeness little by little, day by day.
So how did this woman do everything listed about her?
First, she did not do it all at once. This is a summary of her lifetime accomplishments. “She speaks with wisdom,” verse 26, because she’s lived long enough to be truly wise. “She is not afraid of the snow,” verse 21, because she’s experienced plenty of winters to be amply prepared.
But the real secret to this woman’s virtue, success, prosperity and praise is found in the benediction, Proverbs 30:30. “A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
This woman had her heart in the right place and kept it there for decades. She is a photograph of Psalm 1. “Blessed is the person who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…but her delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law she meditates day and night. She is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that she does she prospers.”
There is a vintage term that is out of favor today. It’s been frowned upon as inferior. Disdained for its old-fashioned hints of victorian prudishness. Kicked out of our everyday lexicon. Even I fell under this modern way of thinking until I started working on this post.
The term is homemaking. And homemaking is the art of making a house a home.
A house begins to become a home when humans enter to live there. But as my son understood it’s not just a place inhabited by people.
My daughter Laura bought her first home about two years ago, before she met and married Josh. It was a newly remodeled quaint bungalow previously inhabited by a drug addicted young man and his dog. No one would have described that dirty, stained structure as a home. But once she moved in, added soothing paint, her incomplete array of furniture, and her personal feminine touches it became a home. And now she has done the same with her husband’s previous bachelor pad. It has been transformed by her presence.
Homemaking is the worker-at-home skill that turns a house into an incubator that feeds a family and others with eternal food. It is the art of creating beauty in relationships. It explains why meticulously professionally decorated residences often feel cold. They are void of the Spirit of Beauty.
The key to developing that skill is giving your heart to Jesus every single day. Asking Him to make your heart like His. Our widowed friend, Miss Kitty, lived a life surrendered to Jesus. It was His presence in her that greeted us every time we went to visit. She was a woman who feared the Lord.
When Paul stresses the importance of being busy at home (Titus 2:4-5), he is urging women to pay attention to what matters most. By making home your first priority, you are saying, this is my most important job. This is my primary ministry: investing in the big and little people that reside within those walls. Even if you have a full time job, your work at home is of supreme importance.
God’s intention for a woman’s work in the home is that within the physical structure He has provided she learns to walk out her Christian life, her faith in the daily duties, disciplines, and feeding of bodies and souls. Day in, day out. Bedtime story after bedtime story. In sickness and in health. Home is where she learns to walk in the power and obedience of the Holy Spirit. Home is where she sees God at work and becomes His friend.
Here she serves and guards her piece of Eden well.
Creating a warm home that even little children recognize is only possible when your heart is completely His. This is what the woman in Proverbs 31 did. She feared God, put her family first, and learned to walk with Him in the good times and hard times.
Busy, tired woman, hang in there! You’re doing the work God created you for.
God has created you with the power of a unique feminine presence. It is a gift and a privilege to be a woman. God wants you to use all that He made you to be to bring a special grace and beauty to your home, both the physical structure itself and especially to the people you share life with every day. He wants you to find your greatest delight in nurturing the well being of every member of your family.
May you embrace this small phrase of biblical definition–worker at home–with a prayer of thanksgiving to God. And may you fear the Lord your God all of your days, for then you will become like the exalted Proverbs woman in God’s eyes.
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