Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What Does Your Home Communicate?

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss says some younger women need to find older women and asks questions like this:

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: “Would you help me learn how to clean my house? How to organize my surroundings? I never learned how to do this, and I’m ashamed of that; I’m embarrassed about it.” But better at 31 than at 51.

Leslie: It’s Monday, March 12th, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

In order for you to hear Revive Our Hearts, this radio station has to be organized. Nancy’s been teaching verse-by-verse through Proverbs 31, and the station keeps all the programs in order so that the series makes sense.

The same is true when you listen at ReviveOurHearts.com or order the CD. When other people are organized, it lets you relax and feel comfortable. Are you making other people feel that way?

Here’s Nancy in a series called The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy: When you were growing up, did you ever feel like your mother had eyes in the back of her head? You thought, "How does she know? How did she see?"

Well, according to Proverbs chapter 31, moms are supposed to have eyes in the back of their head. Now, it doesn’t exactly say that, but we’re going to look at a verse that makes me think of that phrase.

Proverbs chapter 31, verse 27. This virtuous woman, this woman of noble character, the Scripture tells us, “watches over the ways or the affairs of her household, and she does not eat the bread of idleness.”

Now we’re going to break that verse down, and it’s going to take us two or maybe three sessions to walk through it. But look at that word, she watches. This is a woman who is watchful. She knows what’s going on. She’s alert. She’s tuned into what’s happening around her. She’s not just letting her family grow up. She is watching as they grow up.

She’s like a watchman. If a man has a job of being a night guard at a building, at a place of business or a large home, his job is to make sure that no one comes in or out of those gates without him knowing what’s going on. It’s his job to watch. It’s his job to keep his eyes open.

He’s not supposed to go to sleep on the job. You say, “That’s right. When you’re a mom, you’re never allowed to sleep, right?” Well, that’s not what this passage is saying, but it is saying that she has a watchful eye.

She watches over the affairs, the ways of her household. She’s alert to the condition of her home. She knows what’s going on. She knows the needs of her family. She knows the temperature, the climate, of her home. She’s tuned to changes in her children’s lives. And, by the way, moms, this is one way you can help your husband because some of these things you’re going to be alert to before he is, women being more typically relationally tuned.

You may pick up on some of these things—on an issue in one of your children’s lives and a seed you see developing that you’re concerned about. Part of being your husband’s helper may be that you bring this to his attention.

Now that doesn’t mean you nag him about it. It doesn’t mean you’re the Holy Spirit in his life. You think before you say it, and you wait to see if it’s God’s time and make sure you’re perceiving it correctly. But as you’re watchful, you’re being a helper to your husband; you’re being a helper to your family.

Here’s a woman that as she watches over the ways of her household, she doesn’t miss anything. She’s alert to the details of what’s happening in her family—not so that she can be the controller of her family, but that she can be a better servant to her family.

Now watching over the ways of your household may be as practical as noticing that your eight-year-old's pants are almost up to his knees. He’s growing. He needs some longer britches. That’s a practical way that you watch over the ways of your household.

It may mean watching over what they eat and noticing if your children are having too much sugar that is affecting them behaviorally. Being alert to the fact that some children just can’t handle as much sugar, so watching their diet, their intake, watching over the ways of your household.

But it’s a lot easier to watch over the physical aspects of your household than it is to watch the spiritual aspects of your household, to be tuned to what’s happening in your children’s hearts.

Now some of this you can’t know by looking. But I tell you that as you pray for your children, and as you’re in the Word, the Holy Spirit will help you know what you might not otherwise be able to know.

God will give you wisdom. God will give you insight into what’s happening in the lives of your children. He’ll show you what to watch out for. That’s why as a mom, you can’t do this alone.

Parenting and being a wife, being a virtuous woman is something you do by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who enables you to do this. So here particularly, thinking of a wife and a mom, she is alert to who her children’s friends are.

I asked a mom the other day, “Are you pleased with the friends that your children are choosing?” And the mom knew the answer. She knew who her children’s friends were, and she knew what kind of influence those children were having on her children’s lives. She’s a mom who’s watching well over the ways of her household.

Moms need to know. You need to know what your children are reading, what they’re listening to, what they’re wearing.

I have to say moms, I am sometimes really amazed at the way some parents allow their children to dress when they leave their home.

Moms, are you watching well at the ways of your household? Are you watching what your children wear? You say, well, that’s all they’ll wear. Listen, you’re the mom.

God gave you the responsibility as long as those children under your authority, under your roof. God gave you the responsibility to watch over well to their ways, to know when they’re coming and when they’re going and what they’re doing.

Your children probably at a certain age will come to the point where they are not real excited about you knowing everything that they’re doing and where they are and who they’re with. But that’s your job.

Now again, not so that you can be micromanaging every detail of your children’s lives. One of the challenges as your children get older is letting them go. But if you have watched well as to the ways of your household when your children were young, then you’ll find that as your children get older that you better be able to release them because they would have adopted God’s way of thinking and living and acting. Watching well to the habits, the activities of your family members—it’s the spiritual development of your children, the climate of your home.

You may notice that it’s just getting to the point that everybody is just going so many different directions that your family’s not really having talk time, time to just be together. You may need to say, “Look, we need some time as a family. We need some time when we close the door, we turn off the TV, send the other friends home.”

There’s a time to open your door for hospitality. There’s a time to say, our family needs to be together. We’ve been coming and going too much. That’s watching well to the ways of your home. And, of course, you’re not doing this independently of your husband. You’re doing it in partnership with him as his helper.

It may be that your husband at some point doesn’t see what you see. Then don’t nag him about it. Make your point, then back off and let the Lord be the one who makes the point to your husband. There’s a balance here because when we start talking about watching well, then I know there are some moms who are going to become ultra-controllers and are going to hang on so tightly that they make their family feel they have no room to breathe. That’s the balance here.

So when necessary, sound the alarm to your husband, but don’t keep your finger on the alarm. Let it go and let the Lord be the one who puts that on your husband’s heart.

Now, the second part of this verse tells us something that’s important. If you’re going to watch over the ways of your household, then you’ve got to observe the second part which says, “She does not eat the bread of idleness” (verse 27). This is not an idle woman, this is an industrious woman, a diligent woman. Being a virtuous woman is a lot of work. It’s a hard job. It doesn’t come easily or naturally. It requires constantly being on call, constantly on the job, constantly being alert.

It’s interesting that in 1 Timothy chapter 5, the apostle Paul talks about this matter of idleness. He contrasts it as Proverbs does to managing your home.

In the immediate context, 1 Timothy chapter 5 talks about young widows. Paul is going to encourage the young widows that they need to get remarried because, he says, that if they don’t their tendency will be or may be to become idle. They learn to be idle. (see verses 11-15).

Wandering about from house to house and not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies. You see, when you’re not occupied with doing the things that God has created you to do; when you have time on your hands that God didn’t intend to be used as something else, then you’re going to fill that time with something. And often what we fill it with is talking.

Women who have a lot of time to talk on the telephone may be missing out on some of the things they should be doing with that time. And what happens when we have a lot of time to talk? We tend to become gossips and busybodies.

Paul goes on to say, “saying things that they ought not to say.” So he says, “I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children and manage the house, giving no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (verse 14). Manage the house.

You see, if you’re idle, you won’t be able to manage your house. You won’t be able to look well to the ways of your household. But if you’re diligent, then you will be able to provide the kind of organization and the management and the leadership that your home needs.

If you’re idle, things in your house are going to be out of control. If you’re spending your time doing things that aren’t the thing to do for this season of life, then you’ll find your house just spinning out of control.

That’s where you find women who say, “My house is a mess. I can’t get it cleaned up. I can’t get it organized. My life is a mess. My life is spun out of control. My children are out of control.” These tend to be women who are out of control because they’ve been idle.

So you see the contrast here? If you’re idle, you won’t be able to manage your house well.

So Proverbs says, this woman does manage her house well. “She watches well to the ways of her household because she does not eat the bread of idleness” (verse 27).

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be back on the importance of organization.

Let me break in here and let you know about a helpful way you can learn to control the constant creep of mess and disorganization that threatens to control your house sometimes.

Donna Otto has been a guest on Revive Our Hearts. When Nancy interviewed her, I got so many ideas for saving time, getting things done, even dealing with the daily piles of mail.

You can read the transcripts of that enlightening interview by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. You have so many details to handle. Keeping track of what you hear on Revive Our Hearts does not have to be difficult because we’re ready to handle the details for you.

Sign up for the Revive Our Hearts Daily Connection. When you do, you’ll receive a daily email with key quotes from Nancy’s teaching that day. It also lists any special offers or helpful resources we mention on the program. That way, you can keep track of what’s on Revive Our Hearts, review it, and dig further by using the convenient quick links in the email. Sign up for the Daily Connection when you visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to Nancy as she teaches through Proverbs 31 in her series The Counter-Cultural Woman.

Nancy: Somebody sent me a cute email recently that was entitled, “Why I Love My Mom.” It says,

Mom and dad were watching TV when mom said, "I’m tired. It’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed." So she went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day’s lunches, rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons in bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the wash, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the games pieces left on the table and put the telephone book back into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied the waste basket, and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled out a text book hiding out under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then washed her face, put on moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth, and did her nails. Dad called out, "I thought you were going to bed." "I’m on my way," she said. She put some water into the dog’s dish and called the cat in, then made sure the doors were locked. She look in on each of the kids, turned out a bedside lamp, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks in the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still up doing homework.

Back in her own room she set the alarm, laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her list of things to do for tomorrow. About that time, dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular, "I’m going to bed," and he did without another thought.

Now, that was not intended to be a statement on men, it’s intended to be an observation of what we’ve heard that a woman’s work is never done. In some sense, perhaps, that woman illustrates what we’ve been looking at in Proverbs chapter 31.

We’ve been on verse 27 where we’re told this virtuous woman, this woman of noble character, “watches over the ways of her household, and she does not eat the bread of idleness.” She’s a hard worker, always on the alert, always watching out to make sure that her family’s needs are met.

Because, you see, if a woman is not doing what God called her to do in the managing of her household, if she’s not busy doing the work God has assigned to her, then she will be idle and her household, whatever that is at that season of her life, is going to be out of order. Then the enemy can point a finger and say, “That’s a Christian?”

It won’t just be a negative reflection on her, it will reflect negatively on her husband, on her children, and most importantly, on Christ.

Women write and share with me often an area of struggle that they’re experiencing. One that I see more often than probably many others is this whole area of struggling with discipline, struggling with use of time and how to get life organized. My heart really goes out to a woman who wrote not too long ago and said:

I am very undisciplined in just about every area of my life. I can barely be consistent about brushing my teeth. I have a very bad habit of being lazy and somewhat disorganized. If you were to walk in my house, you would think we were total slobs. In general, I’m just undisciplined.

I want to be the best wife and mom that I can, but I keep failing because of my selfish and undisciplined ways. There are strongholds in my life. [She talks about her eating habits.] I’ve gained 50 pounds in the last 5 years. This makes me physically unattractive. I feel bad for my husband.

In general, I have no routine for my day. I have a hard time staying within the budget that my husband and I have set up.

Now, I’m not blaming my parents. My dad was a busy man. My mom was busy. I’ve just kind of raised myself, in essence. [Now she’s a wife and a mom struggling with these issues.] Can I still gain the skills to become a disciplined and productive part of society? Can I become a person that loves her family more than self? I want to train both my girls to become disciplined and productive children of God. Is there hope for me, a 31 year old, to change?

Now let me just say, “Absolutely! There is hope!” That’s why we have Revive Our Hearts, because we have a God who cares about our hearts and He cares about our homes and how they’re affected by the condition of our hearts.

That’s what grace is for. It’s for failures. It’s for people who have never learned, never developed the life skills they perhaps should have learned as children. But through a repentant heart and a teachable humble spirit, all of us can learn to acquire those skills and those disciplines that we need to have to be the women God wants us to be.

Let me just say, parenthetically here, if the story I just read is just even a little bit your story, then don’t just keep it to yourself and wallow in it—get help!

Go to the Lord first as this woman is doing and say, “Lord, I don’t want to be this way. I want to be a disciplined woman. I don’t want to be idle. I want to train my children in the right ways, but I need your grace.” Then find a woman who knows God and walks with God and is disciplined in the areas where you struggle and say, “Would you help me?” Humble yourself.

You may say, “I just couldn’t bare to bring someone else into my home.” Humble yourself. Get somebody. Some people just are born organizers. I don’t know that anybody is born disciplined, that’s something that the spirit develops in our lives. But there are some people who are a little more natural about organizing their schedule and their day and their environment.

Find one of those people and let her use her gift on you and say, “I need help. I never learned how to do this, and I’m ashamed of that. I’m embarrassed about it, but would you help me learn how to clean my house, how to organize my surroundings, how to keep my body under control?” Just disciplines, basic disciplines of life. And better at 31 than at 51 when your kids are grown and you’ve reproduced in them the lack of character and the lack of discipline that you didn’t deal with when God began to speak to you about it.

So whatever age you are, and whatever season of life you find yourself in, when God speaks to you about something, it’s not too late to deal with it. Now, don’t put it off because there will come a time when those habits become so much harder to deal with as we get older. I’m sure this woman wishes she had learned these things at 13 instead of now wrestling with it at 31, but God will take you right where you are.

Say, “Lord, I need help.” Go to the body of Christ and say, “I need help. I need to be trained about how to be a responsible woman to watch over the affairs of my home.”

Let me say, if you don’t, just a reminder of the consequences. Your husband will reap those consequences; your children will reap those consequences, and the enemy, Satan himself, will have ammunition. He’ll have ammunition to keep you defeated, to keep you in bondage as this woman I just read. She’s miserable because the enemy’s accusing her.

He's saying, “Look at you. You can’t get your life together.” But there are other people looking at her. The enemy is using her lack of discipline, her idleness as an occasion to make Christ look bad.

Now, I don’t want to put you on a guilt trip with that. I just want to say that’s why a lot is at stake when we talk about becoming women who reflect the beauty and the heart of Christ.

It’s not just so we can be happier. It’s because there’s a gospel that’s involved here. The way that we live and the way we function and the way our homes look all reflect on the gospel of Christ.

That’s why I want my surroundings and the way I function and the way I work at my schedule and the way I use my time, everything about my environment to say, this is what God looks like. This is His beauty. These are His ways, and to make those ways attractive to a watching world.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss just gave a good reason for keeping your home well organized. It’s not to impress friends who drop by. It’s not because you want to be a perfectionist. It’s not so you can make your home look like it belongs in a Pottery Barn catalog.

The reason to keep a home organized is for God’s glory. God’s glory is at the center of a practical book Nancy wrote with other wise women like Carolyn Mahaney, Susan Hunt, and Bunny Wilson.

It’s called Becoming God's True Woman and will help you learn what it means to make your home a place that brings God glory. This book will introduce you to the concept of biblical womanhood.

Tomorrow Nancy will tell us about an aspect of running a household that you probably won’t hear about from Martha Stewart of HDTV. It’s the important aspect of prayer. I hope you can be back. Now, let’s pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Father, thank You for grace. If it weren’t for Your grace, I would have no hope. I think of this woman who asks. “Is there hope for me, a 31 year old, to change, to ever be any different, to rear my children differently than I was raised?”

Thank You that there is hope, hope as big as You are. I pray that You would speak hope and encouragement into the heart of some woman who’s listening, who’s discouraged, she’s overwhelmed; she’s frustrated. I pray that she’ll get up and out of that nest that she’s in, turn to You, repent of any wrong doing on her part.

Then would You would direct her as to where to find help, where to find a mentor—someone who in practical ways can help her to know how to order her day, her world, and her environment in a way that would bring glory to You. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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