Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the place of the dead), where you are going.
BY ADA NICIHOLSON BROWNELL
Solomon, in his kingly robe, his once-handsome face now etched with the journey of his smiles and frowns, must have shut his tired eyes before he wrote Proverbs 31.
All around the palace, his wives chattered, screamed at children and giggled. A few primped before a mirror, hoping to catch their husband’s attention that night. Perhaps the first of the 700 wives started the trend of doing nothing but looking beautiful and criticizing other women in the house. I imagine each woman wanted to be the loveliest, the sexiest, and the one he would choose most.
But after being surrounded by all that outward splendor, Solomon ‘s mind caught a vision of a different kind of woman. He imagined a lady who “looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.”
A traveling evangelist also wrote about the value of not being idle. The evangelist, the Apostle Paul, picked up a reed with his rough hands, work-worn from stitching tents, and wrote to the Thessalonian church, his graying head filled with love and yet, frustration.
“Keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teachings you received from us,” he wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:6. He pointed out his team was not idle all the while they worked with the church in Thessalonica.
Paul became even more bold in his statements about lazy people. “If any will not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Although many people work at avoiding things they don’t think they enjoy—like washing dishes, cleaning the house, doing laundry, bathing the children, doing odd jobs, working diligently at a career—they miss out on the satisfaction work gives and the joy of having chores done.
My Mom loved to quote the scripture about “No work, no food,” but I grew to enjoy what I could find to do constructively with my hands. I did it with all my might, as another scripture says. Even as a kid when I cleaned the kitchen and mopped the floor, I loved to look back at what I’d done as if I’d created a work of art out of chaos. To me, it was beautiful.
After I married and we eventually grew to seven people in the house, I used to set time goals for completing different tasks. Did you know you can make your bed in less than five minutes? Clean out the dishwasher in just a few seconds more than it takes to heat a cup of water in the microwave? Less than 15 minutes to clean to kitchen after a normal meal? Put everything on your bathroom vanity away and polish the sink in about 30 seconds? Fold and hang the laundry straight from the dryer in five to seven minutes?
Furthermore, have you tried planning meals in your head while doing some of the above tasks? Time? Zero.
An orderly home creates a different atmosphere. We can do a little deeper cleaning once a week, once a month or twice a year. I find if I notice dirt to go after it at that moment. I can do that much of the bime.
We don’t need to be fanatics about neatness and put the bread away before the person who got it out can get peanut butter on it, but doing what we can when we can, gives us a chance for fun if we plan.
Planning is the key to hospitality, budgeting our finances, finding ways to stretch the family income—and getting adequate rest, too. The secret is being organized. You can always fit more into organized space.
Sidebar: Polishing the Inner Woman
Giving hubby or the children at least five minutes of attention after work or school usually makes the rest of the day go better. With effort and a sense of urgency, a woman can love every member of the family and train children in the way they ought to go while multi-tasking.
But there is more. Some mothers and fathers pray briefly with their children before they leave the house each day, but if we can’t manage that, we need to pray with them sometime. It’s even better if the family has devotions together. Reading scripture and praying for one another only takes a few minutes, but every once in a while we can devote more time so we can discuss problems, answer questions, or have intense Bible study together.
Other important tasks that actually aren’t that time-consuming: Reading the Word and connecting with God privately. We can pray and memorize scripture while doing other tasks, even while jogging or doing a few exercises and stretches. But it’s important to kneel for a few minutes daily to give the Lord undivided attention.
Most of all, being in God’s House also is time well spent. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else we need and sometimes even our desires will be added (Matthew 6:33). Pastors, Sunday school teachers, children’s workers, youth leaders, Christian friends, become positive mentors, tea ching our children to obey their parents and The Ten Commandments. The church can help couples make solid marriages, and help individuals to allow God to direct their steps—making the rest of their lives better.
As with budgeting money, we can find ways we waste minutes and hours that would be better spent if we managed them correctly.
The results help us at the moment—and possibly change our family for eternity.
©Copyright Ada Brownell 2012
- Ada Brownell has been writing for Christian publications since age 15. She is a retired medical journalist for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and is the author of Swallowed by Life, Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal; and Confessions of a Pentecostal.