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From Ketchup Stains to Salvation

From Ketchup Stains to Salvation

How Housework Reflects the Gospel

Stephanie Delger

Podcast Host

Mom Guilt Podcast

Published On:

December 20, 2023

Does what I do really matter? How can picking up Cheerios off the floor for the third time today really make a difference in eternity? Being the mother to my four children is one of the best, hardest, and most rewarding things that I have done in my life. I know this, but if I’m honest, it doesn’t always feel that way.

Housework Reflects the Gospel

There is often a disconnect between what I know to be true and what I feel is true. I know that serving my family by cooking meals, washing, and folding the laundry are important. These are good things, important things that need to be done, especially since I don’t want my kids to be malnourished nudists running around the neighborhood. But when I am cleaning up yet another glass of spilled milk on the counter, I often find it hard to believe that this could have an eternal significance. Housework reflects the gospel.

But what if God has designed us to be lights in a dark world not by doing extraordinary things, but by doing the mundane, ordinary things that point to an extraordinary God? What if through these seemingly boring, unimportant tasks, we were able to show our families how God loves them? What if doing the laundry, cooking food, and cleaning up the toy room show our children in a concrete tangible way who the Lord is and what He has done for them? What if the ordinary things point them to their Savior? What if all these things are an everyday reminder of the gospel?

Gospel Work In The Laundry

Laundry has to be my least favorite household chore. Not only is it time-consuming, but unless you are doing laundry while everyone runs around naked, you are never done with it. At the end of a full day of laundry, everyone has to change into their pajamas and BAM! More laundry in the hampers. Someone once pointed out to me that if Adam and Eve never ate the fruit from the tree in the Garden, we wouldn’t have laundry. It was only after Adam and Eve sinned that they realized they were naked! Laundry is a direct result of the fall! (Can I get an Amen?) Some of you may really enjoy doing laundry, and if that’s you, can we please be friends and you can come over to my house and do mine anytime you would like?

A few weeks ago I took both my girls out clothes shopping and they bought some much-needed warm clothes for winter. They were so excited to wear them. They changed into them as soon as they could. They sat down to eat dinner and within the first few bites, one of them had a huge glob of ketchup dribbled all down the front of their cream-colored shirt. She started frantically scrubbing the ketchup trying to get it off, as I just told her to be careful because ketchup stains.

I had her take the shirt off and walked to the laundry room to start the stain removal process to try and get the bright red condiment off her not-so-white-anymore shirt. Thankfully, the ketchup stain came out and I was able to present her with a beautifully clean shirt.

My daughter didn’t mean to spill ketchup on her brand-new shirt, but when she did, what did she do? She tried to handle it herself which only made the problem worse. Isn’t that what we often do with God our Father? We sin, and rather than immediately asking for help, we try to clean it up ourselves. We try to hide our sin from others and from God. It’s only when all our attempts have failed, that we ask for help.

And God is there for us! God takes our dirty, ketchup-stained lives, and through the blood of Jesus, restores us to Himself. When I brought the now clean shirt to my daughter, I was showing her what God has done for her (and me!). 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In doing laundry, in taking something that was stained and dirty and making it clean, we can tangibly show our kids what God has done for them on the cross. Jesus, on the cross, took the wrath that we deserved and gave us his righteousness. It is only by what Jesus did on the cross that we and our families can be saved. Jesus promises that if we put our faith in Him alone for our salvation, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We can reflect this truth in something as simple as wiping away ketchup stains from a shirt!

Gospel Work In Cooking

How many moms have spent sometimes hours preparing a meal for their children and when they set the dish in front of them, are met with a look of disgust? A battle usually ensues at my house over how much they need to eat to get down from the table. After the meal, I scrape a decent amount of food from their plate into the trash thinking, “Why do I do this? Does it really even matter?”

My dear husband has consoled me many nights because it is so frustrating to spend all this time and energy making food that just ends up in the trash. How can this routine which happens at least three times a day really matter in eternity?

When we provide food and nourish our families, we can show them how God our Father provides for us and nourishes us.

In the Old Testament, God provided for his people in the desert by giving them manna and bread. The Israelites thought that their biggest problem was hunger. However, they had a much deeper problem, a heart full of sin. God is so gracious and He provided them with food to quench their physical hunger, while also promising them something greater to come. The Israelites had a physical and spiritual problem.

When Jesus was in the Upper Room with his disciples hours before he was betrayed, tortured, and crucified, Luke 22:19 says, “And he (Jesus) took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.”

God provides. God provided for His people with manna, but He provides for our spiritual needs through Christ. When preparing yet another peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our kids, what if we do this, reminding ourselves and our kids how all our needs are ultimately provided for us by Christ?

Gospel Work In Organizing

I don’t know about your house, but at my house, there are usually toys everywhere. It usually only takes one well-placed Lego left on the floor to be stepped on by me, before I lose my cool and yell “Enough! We don’t live in a barn, please clean up this room!” So we all spend the next thirty minutes to an hour cleaning up the room. I walk out to tackle the next task, and when I return to the room again, much to my dismay, it looks like we never cleaned it in the first place! I am tempted to throw in the towel and call it quits. What is the point of cleaning when it just gets messy again a few minutes after walking out of the room?

I am so glad that God doesn’t look at my life this way, aren’t you? Paul, in Ephesians 2:4-5, writes that we have sinned and were God’s enemies, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

When we’re messy and dead in our sins, the Bible tells us that God loves us, forgives us, and brings us into a relationship with Himself. God does this again and again. When a person becomes saved, they have the Holy Spirit which comes to dwell inside them. Because of God, we have the ability and strength to fight sin in our lives.

But as much as we want to, we still sin. We still need forgiveness. And just like a messy room that gets picked up again and again, God doesn’t quit on us. He doesn’t throw in the towel and decide that we are no longer worth saving. God continues to work in a believer’s life, sanctifying us. Praise God!

Housework For The Glory of God

Jesus often told parables to his followers to help them understand biblical truths. Jesus could have chosen to simply tell them in a lecture-style format truths about God and His Kingdom. But rather than simply give a lecture, he told them stories. We are wired to love stories. They help us identify deeply with what is being taught. Stories can bring our hearts and minds to worship in a way that spoken words alone cannot. What if we started treating housework as parables, which point both our hearts and our family’s hearts and minds towards the gospel?

As we do the dishes, we think about God cleansing our hearts from sin. As we change yet another dirty diaper, we can recall from Isaiah 64, that our good works presented towards God with a bad heart posture, are like giving him this dirty diaper. As our newborn baby or toddler cries for milk, so too should we yearn for spiritual nourishment. (Psalm 84:2) Having something tangible, something right in front of us, makes these truths hit a deeper way. God in his goodness, gives us real-life, everyday activities that can bring us closer to Him.

Recalling all that God has done for us while doing everyday housework, is a way that we can live out Colossians 3:17 which says, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, recalling who God is, and what He has done, remembering all the blessings that He has given you, and giving thanks to God the Father.

Housework Models Jesus’ Servanthood

While we serve our families, we can also model for them how Jesus served. The Bible says that Jesus came to serve others, not to be served. (Matthew 20:28) If anyone in all of history had the right to be served and waited on, wasn’t that person Jesus? He is the Son of God, God incarnate. Yet this is the opposite of how Jesus thought and acted. Jesus took on flesh and came to earth as a human baby, covered in blood and bodily fluids. He spent his first night not sleeping on a comfortable crib mattress, but in a manger, filled with scratchy straw. Jesus spent his time not seated on a throne, but healing the sick and eating with the social outcasts. On the night of his betrayal, we see him get on his hands and knees and scrub the dirty, stinky feet of his disciples. This includes the disciple who would in a few hours betray him with a kiss. Jesus exemplifies what it means to love and serve others.

Philippians 2:3-8 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

God invites us into a life of servanthood which not only gives God glory but brings our families closer to Him. So as you clean yet another sink full of dirty dishes, you can do this as an act of worship. Worship the Lord for what He has done for you and your family, all while showing your children how much you love them, just as your Heavenly Father loves you.

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