To Work or Not to Work? That is not the question

A couple years ago my heart was stirred to ask my husband to consider supporting me in staying home full-time. He graciously agreed to do so.
During these years at home, I have experienced sweet fellowship with Christ in doing the unrecognized, unfinished, servant-like, foot-washing tasks that involve keeping up a home. I’ve come to see the home as a foundational testimony of God in society. I’ve developed a heart for the simple, priceless things like eating a meal together and being here when my husband comes home. God has also wooed my husband’s heart through me being home. But during this time I’ve clung to the false-doctrine that being a homemaker meant I could not, or should not, work outside my home. I believed that’s what being a homemaker meant… not working outside your home.
This past year I have had to humble myself and confess that I’ve been wrong both in believing and teaching that dogma to others when it’s just not what God’s Word says! I made homemaking about “to work or not to work” when God’s Word is clear… that is not the question to ask.

The Spirit has helped me to understand that homemaking is not the absence of working outside the home but is a multifaceted ministry. In fact, as I study it out, I see a triune service in homemaking.

It is management:

She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:27 NKJV

It is doing the “foot-washing” no one wants to do:

“{She} willingly works with her hands.” -Proverbs 31:13 NKJV

And it is the building of relationships:

The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”- Proverbs 14:1

NO WHERE in scripture do I find God saying that being a homemaker means not working outside your home.

Now, this means I have to eat crow. I have been one who trumpeted the cause of not working outside the home. I know the arguments out there. I’ve read them, said amen to them, and been caught up in them, as though the message of a woman not working outside her home were the gospel itself! I WAS SOOOOOO WRONG!

As I look at the Word of God I see very clear commands for women to:

  • Manage their households (1 Tim.5:14)
  • To watch over the ways of their households (Proverbs 31:27)
  • To build their homes, that is, the relationships in their homes (Proverbs 14:1)
  • And to be about the business of homemaking (Titus 2:5)

In none of those do I see a mandate for women to refrain from working outside their homes. In fact, if anything, I see in the Proverbs 31 woman the example of a homemaker who sells her skills. Her employment to the “merchants” of the world is PART OF HER HOMEMAKING!

She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.” – Proverbs 31:24

Now, no doubt, the extent to which a woman is engaged in employment for money and can still manage, build and keep a home is a factor. But I can’t decide how much is too much for you, neither can you decide that for me. Each of us must walk by faith in the Spirit and decide how best to manage our households under the leadership of our husbands (if we have husbands).

It has been really hard for me to admit this. I feel like I can identify with Paul after having been Saul, zealously, in the name of God, persecuting Jesus by persecuting His church. I feel like I’ve been so blind to the truth about homemaking and have clung to the cause of “to work or not to work” that I’ve ignorantly been hurting my Lord and His body in doing so.

Christ has not called me or any of us to trumpet the cause of to work or not to work. He’s called us to trumpet Christ! And as far as causes, God has ONE for us no matter what the circumstances of our lives are:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. – Romans 8:28-29

Yes, we are to teach sound things, scriptural things. As women of God we’re called to obey the teaching of being homemakers and to teach other women in our lives to be homemakers too. And when we add to that command OUR belief that homemaking means not working outside our homes, we add a burden that is beyond the easy yoke of Christ.

“…admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Titus 2:4-5

Christ calls us to be servants in our homes, managers of our homes, and builders of the relationships in our homes whether we work outside our homes or not! And from Proverbs 31:24 I see Him calling us to use the skills He’s given us to contribute to the income that maintains our homes.

Whether our use of skills is in making homemade things and selling them, or serving dinner in a local restaurant, or helping a woman give birth to her child… part of the management of our homes involves using our skills to earn money. This of course will have its season in our lives as homemakers.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven… – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Some of us have the blessing of a husband who provides all the necessary income for the household, freeing us to use our skill to earn money in creative ways. Some of us are doing the unpaid service of nursing and raising small children, an employment for which the compensation is beyond monetary, and one which leaves little time in the day for earning any money. Some of us are single moms, providing is not an option and is a very real part of our homemaking. Some of us are able to work outside our homes and still be available to our families and about the business of managing our households. In each case our call is the same: We are to be watching over the ways of our households and not eating the bread of idleness. This brings God glory in our lives.

The question is not should I work outside my home or not. These are the questions I need to ask:

  • Do I love my husband and children as a friend?
  • Am I a home-maker or a home-destroyer?
  • Do I watch over the ways of my household or have I abandoned that for self indulgence?

I’m so thankful for the past 3 years I’ve been able to dedicate solely to our home. My heart is full of gratitude for my husband who has been, and continues to be, the willing provider and leader of our home. As God has rid me of my own law concerning homemaking, and taught me His will, I’m excited to see how He will provide the perfect way to make my own “linen garments” and sell them as part of the testimony of homemaker He’s building in me for His glory!

In the rest of this first part of the Matters of the Home series I’ll be sharing more about the triune ministry of homemaking I see in God’s word. I’d love to hear your feedback, even if it’s in disagreement with what I’ve written here. Whether you feel passionate about a woman not working outside her home or not, if you are a new creature in Christ we are sisters! We are part of the same body! I want us to be united in Him in love!

Comment questions:

  • Is working outside your home a season of life you are in right now?
  • What skills/talents do you have that you can do your own modern-day making of linen garments and selling them?
  • Is your mind engulfed in personal career goals or in the building up of your home for God’s glory?

    So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3

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