Set your heart on things above…..set your minds on things above, not on earthly things….Col 3 : 1-2

My relationship with housecleaning :

  • Off and on for many years, I paid someone to clean every week.
  • For years I scoffed at my husband’s standard of cleanliness and attributed it to growing up with a super-zealous mom.
  • We had marriage problems and I repented of having minimized something important to my husband.
  • Then money got tighter and I started cleaning myself.
  • Then I started identifying myself with how clean my house was.
  • Then podcasts took over my life and I looked forward to cleaning on Saturdays and filling up on sermons.
  • Then one day I heard something on a podcast that helped to shift my focus on what is truly important.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a picked up house and I do invest 3 hours a week in systematic but minimal cleaning.  But I don’t look at the baseboards.  I don’t look at the grime on the blinds.  I don’t look at the chipped paint of the indoor window sills.  Why?

In view of eternity, this house of mine (actually not my house, the bank lets us live in it as long as we keep up with the mortgage payments) will not last.  It will get burned up when we get a new heavens and a new earth.  So why attempt to hold to a standard of ‘new-looking’, if what we have on earth will not last?  If entropy is a natural law set in motion by God, then it makes sense that physical things (houses as well as humans) will deteriorate.  Physical things wear out over time.

So I clean every week, grateful to have a house, grateful to have the energy and time AND podcasts to keep me company. Yet I clean within reason, within the context that I need to be a good steward of possessions, yet husbanding my resource of TIME as well.  My identity does not derive from being an excellent housekeeper.  That would be idolatrous!

This eternal mindset is useful in other areas.  Mike and I dream of a retirement house in the hills of Virginia.  We often rehearse with one another the specifics of this mountain retreat.  It will be smaller than where we live now, but it will be sturdier, built to last, good quality materials.  All of a sudden, today, I pondered:  Why?  Why does it need to be of better quality (read more costly) materials?  Why would I want it to last?  It’s going to be burned up, too!

Didn’t Jesus say that about the temple?  When he mentioned in passing, as recorded by the gospel writer John, that he would destroy the temple and raise it up in 3 days, the people laughed at him.  The temple, renovated by Herod the Great for the 2nd time in history, was too solid, too well-built for that!  Hmm…so what was the point of fortifying a structure?   Was anyone obeying God specifically here?

So, if the temple was not meant to last forever, neither is anything else.  That means my house won’t last, my body won’t last, my collection of XYZ won’t last.  So why make something temporary so critical to my happiness or even my identity?

Instead, God calls us to focus on what WILL last, “things above”.  Paul reminds us Christians that we have already died. How is that?  Our old natures have died and our old way of thinking has died.  We have died to the mindset of this world that says what is tangible and visible will last forever.  Wrong!!!  All that will get burned up.  But we who are born again into a living hope have our lives safely hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ appears at the 2nd coming, we will also appear with him, in GLORY!!! (Col 3:4)

And that kind of glory needs no polishing.  I don’t have to work at it.  That is GREAT news.  So…let us hold loosely to stuff. Instead, let us invest our time and energy in people.  They are what matter. They will last forever, in one place or another.  The more people with whom we share the Gospel, the more permanent friends we will have in heaven.

PS:  I still look forward to our mountain home, but I hope we will use this reasoning to guide our selection of building materialsJ