Don’t Waste Your Guilt on Your Junk Drawer

I've got a junk drawer so full of junk that it is renting storage space from three other drawers.

I can't see the top of my washing machine. It’s covered in soap, rags, laundry baskets, and an army of Lego men rescued from the dryer.

I haven't cleaned out my closet since the last time we moved.

Despite my desire to live a tidy and organized life, I'm disorganized and scattered. I often find myself wishing God would give me a twenty-eight-hour day instead of the standard twenty-four. I just can't seem to squeeze everything on my to-do list in between the hours when my alarm goes off and when I fall into bed exhausted.

I know I'm not the only woman frustrated by disorganization and inefficiency. But it's time we get real about how big of a deal our junk drawer really is. (Hint: It's not.)

An Irritating Fact

Several months ago, I stumbled onto a Barna study about Christian women and spiritual health. As I read, these stats jumped out at me.

When asked about sin struggles . . .

  • 50 percent of women listed disorganization as their number one struggle.
  • 42 percent of women listed inefficiency.

These were the top two struggles listed.

Something about that study stuck like a grain of sand in my heart. It irritated me, but I wasn't sure why. After a while, through the lens of my own heart, this pearl emerged.

We think God is most concerned with our productivity. But the truth is He is most concerned with our holiness.

Which Mark Are You Missing?

The fact that half of Christian women would list disorganization as their number one sin struggle tells me that we don't know (or we don't like) what sin is.

Sin is not simply those nagging habits that we would like to change about ourselves. It isn't the things that make our lives less than magazine-spread perfect. It's not something that can be cured in ten easy organizational steps.

First John 3:4 defines sin this way: "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness."

When we violate the law of God, found in His Word, we sin. Certainly, getting things done matters. But disorganization and inefficiency do not violate God's law.

Let’s go back to the treasure trove of God’s Word and keep digging.  

Deuteronomy 9:7 and Joshua 1:18 define sin as rebellion against God.

When you don't master your to-do list, who or what are you rebelling against? Your own expectations? Maybe. A culture that gives gold stars for productivity at all costs? Sure. But God is not disappointed in you when your to-do list is not wrapped in a tidy bow at the end of the day. Being disorganized is not rebellion against God or His law.

I've often heard sin defined as "missing the mark." This is backed up by Romans 3:23, which says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

We are sinners because we all fall short of the glory and perfection of God, not because there is dirty laundry on the floor and expired cheese in the refrigerator. Jesus didn't die to redeem your junk drawer. He died to redeem you from your tendency to run in the opposite direction of righteousness.

Out of Whack with God's Priorities

Certainly a clean and organized home is a worthy goal. There's nothing wrong with getting organized. (You naturally organized girls were already typing me a letter on your label makers, weren't you?)

But if half of us think falling short in the area of productivity is our number one problem, our priorities are out of whack with God's. As a result, too many of us feel more guilty about the state of our homes than we do about the state of our hearts.

I can't help but wonder . . . as women, are we wasting valuable time and energy feeling guilty about our messy homes instead of asking the Lord to work in our messy lives? Are we going to war against sin with the same vigor and determination that we go to war against clutter?

And for me, here is the question at the root of it all:

Do we grasp that while God calls us to work hard as if doing all things for Him (Eph. 6:7), His love for us is not tied to our ability to perform?

God doesn't shake His finger at messy. He uses our messes to proclaim His message. Our shortcomings are an opportunity to highlight our need for Him.

A Strange Poster Child for Prioritizing

Admittedly, I have some all-American girl, first-born achiever hang-ups. I tend to measure my value by my ability to perform. That's probably why the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10 punches me in the gut.

Martha is knocking performance out of the park. The Savior comes over to her house, and she puts on a fabulous dinner party. Her sister, Mary, on the other hand, gets the "atta girl" from Jesus for just sitting at His feet, making Mary a strange poster child for how we are to order our lives.

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to [Jesus] and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40–42).

I have a hunch that Martha would be among the 50 percent of women who list disorganization and inefficiency as her primary sin struggles. She just couldn't seem to keep all of the plates spinning. We need her story because it reminds us of a deeper truth.

Having a clean house is good! Let’s seek to show hospitality to others and to use our homes for God's glory. Organization is a good thing, too. It helps to smooth out the wrinkles in our day. But these are not the best portion. Productivity and organization should not be our primary goal or the measuring stick by which we calculate our value.

With that in mind, can I encourage you to examine your own life (as I examine mine)?

  • Let’s ask God to reveal the true sin in our lives (remember sin violates God's law) and to help us repent.
  • Let’s ask Him to show us if we are beating ourselves up about something that doesn't matter to Him.
  • Let's ask God for strength to run toward holiness. If we can have a clean junk drawer and get the laundry caught up in the process, great. If not, let's ask God to make us women who always choose the better portion.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

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