Devotional: Humble Transparency
Josh and I have been married for about ten months and our time together has been wonderful. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways this first year of our marriage! One of the ways we feel the Lord has blessed us tremendously is through our home. We live in a quiet area with a beautiful yard and a house that has the peaceful feeling of being tucked away in the forest. Before being married to Josh, I had never owned a house or lived on my own. Now that I do, I have had the opportunity to try something that I have sincerely come to enjoy – hosting!
I love inviting people into our home. I love cooking food and baking treats that I know people will enjoy. I love arranging the table to look like a Pinterest board and decorating for the changing seasons. I love making people feel welcome when they come inside, offering them a variety of beverages and snacks. I love hosting! But, there is a terrible secret that most people who have come to our house know nothing about. In the hours before they arrive, I am FRANTICALLY cleaning.
Those of you who know us know that we love our animals. Let me say that again: we LOVE our animals. I am in no way complaining about them. But, if I am being realistic, they add a level of… ‘color’ to our home that would otherwise not be present. This “color” is in the form of hair, dirt, muddy paw prints, and extra laundry. Also, did I mention that Josh and I like to be outside? With our animals? We work in the yard almost every weekend. Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to take off our shoes when we only need to grab something out of the cabinet before heading back out. We go to the barn several times a week and guess what is happening right now: the horses are shedding their coats! Every day we come home with an extra layer of horse hair on our clothes that somehow ends up on the couch. And sometimes, I don’t do the dishes after dinner. That’s right. There are days when I leave them in the sink and don’t get to them until the next day.
Despite my inner struggle to share this with all of you, I am actually finding that there may be some amount of cathartic relief from being so transparent. Nevertheless, this is the truth of how we live. Our house is almost never as clean as it is when people walk through our front door. And the times when people have walked into our house unexpectedly, I have been mortified by the fact that they will see how we actually live. In fact, there have even been times when I could have, or perhaps even should have, invited someone into our home to talk or share a meal, but I didn’t because I knew our house wasn’t ‘clean’.
Pastor Barry’s sermon series on “Meals with Jesus” in the last few weeks has encouraged me to think a lot about hosting and why I love it so much. Do I really enjoy inviting people into our home to love and serve them? Or do I love inviting people into our home on my terms so that they can ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the fake reality that I display? Why is it hard for me to let people see the real, unfiltered version of my life? And why is maintaining that façade more important to me than loving my family, friends, and neighbors?
In Luke 14, Jesus shares a parable with the guests who are present at a wedding He has attended. He tells them that when they are invited to a wedding feast that they should go and sit in the lowest place, so that when the host comes, he may say, “Friend, move up higher,” and they will be honored in the presence of all who are there. (Luke 14:10, ESV) Jesus is calling us to a level of humility that feels uncomfortable. What if the wedding guest sat in the lowest place and was not asked by the host to move up higher? Or what if someone walks into my home and judges me for my lack of cleanliness?
In his sermon on Sunday, Pastor Barry said this: “No performance can make you right with God in your own efforts.” Because of this, no amount of approval from the people who come into our home will make me right with God. Even if our house were spotless every second of the day, it would never be enough to earn my salvation. But furthermore, in my desire to place my identity in what other people think of me, I have forsaken the commandment to love others. You see, in my preoccupation with the cleanliness of our house, I am not able to fully welcome people into our home as they deserve. My desire is not to love them, it is to bolster my own pride. I have neglected to love people when they needed it because our home wasn’t presentable, and I was more concerned with my appearance than I was with caring for my brothers and sisters.
In the following verse Jesus says this: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV) Jesus is the greatest possible example of humility and exaltation. He humbled Himself to serve His people to the point of death and was exalted in His resurrection through which He now sits at the right hand of God. In his ministry on earth, Jesus displayed endless humility in how He loved and cared for those around Him. He was not concerned with His appearance or what others thought of Him; He thought only of loving others. Friends, if you struggle, like me, to allow people to see the unaltered and raw moments of your life, take heart that not only is there grace for this, but that our savior has provided us with the assurance that we need to be humble in our transparency. Our salvation is not in what other people think of us or in how clean our house is; it is in Christ alone. And because of that, we are free to let people into our messy lives (and homes), to love deeply as Christ has loved us.
Photo Credit: Birgit Loit