Cleanliness is NOT next to godliness.
I’m sure the person who coined the idiom so many thousands of years ago had good intentions. Good hygiene is important. Was even more so back when there were no antibiotics or hospitals. But nowadays, it feels like a hammer pounding my self-worth. If cleanliness is next to godliness, then I must be FAR FAR away from godly. Clutter and dust and crumbs and unmopped floors are a huge part of my life these days. I question my worth to my family and to God when I look around and see nothing but chaos and this is how I interpret those words: “cleanliness IS godliness.”…and I am failing.
I’ll tell you what IS next to godliness: legalism. It hops up and down next to godliness, waving its hand in the air saying “Pick me! Pick me! I can help you make lists and charts! I can motivate you through guilt and fear of failure! I’ll make sure you find lots of unrealistic ideas on Pinterest and compare you to your Facebook friends! We’ll make a great team!” Meanwhile, godliness quietly waits for us to discover the secret.
What’s the secret? It’s NOT trying harder and it’s NOT giving up. It’s something your parents probably told you when you were growing up: do your best. My best is the best I can do. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But we grownups complicate things. I catch myself all the time expecting my best housework, my best teaching, my best painting and my best mothering all on the same day. Um…Ain’t happenin’! My best has to be based on today, not my past performance. I can’t look at the day I got the whole house clean and expect that that will now happen every day (But I do.). I can’t say, “Look how patient and kind I was today! Hallelujah! My sin is cured!” (But I do.) No, I have to figure out what God wants me to do today, whether I make a priority list for my life and go by that, or start each morning by asking Him what His plan is. Then He will supply the power for godliness, and I will be able to do my best for today. “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). He has given me every tool I need for godly living, which means if I fail to do my best, maybe I was trying for the wrong thing(s). (Or maybe I just need His grace!)
But here’s the beauty of life with God in the words of Anne Shirley:
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
or as the Bible says it:
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23, NIV).
What do you think about that saying? How has it affected your thinking about your own housekeeping and that of others? Share your thoughts in the comments.