The Triune Ministry of Homemaking: Footwashing

“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.” Proverbs 31:13 KJV

When I think about why homemaking (remember, I’m not talking about absence from working outside the home. I’m talking about managing, serving and building relationships in your home for God’s glory) is so important to me, and why I believe its such a vital (not trivial) part of living out a life of faith in Christ as a wife and mom, I think of John 13.

John 13 contains the account of Jesus washing the disciples feet just hours before being betrayed and ultimately crucified.

It begins with:

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. – John 13:1-5

Homemaking certainly isn’t defined by not working outside your home, but it is largely lived out by serving in the hands-on daily tasks that never stay finished in a home. It’s the laundry. The toilet cleaning. The picking up of things all day. It’s the washing dishes and putting them away. It’s the organizing of cabinets and ridding of accumulated clutter. It’s putting away laundry. It’s ironing. It’s bedmaking and mirror cleaning. It’s picking up dog poop and cleaning litter boxes. It’s pulling weeds and dusting blinds. The list goes on and on. Every home has “footwashing” tasks that must be done or else… its gonna start to stink! 🙂
Footwashing, in Jesus’ day, was considered the lowest of the low jobs. In fact, amongst Jews, even a Jew who was a slave would not stoop to footwashing. Only a slave from among the “heathen” would be appointed the despised chore of footwashing.
But Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, the King of kings, the Redeemer of souls, the Holy God in Flesh… He washed feet!
The day to day tasks of caring for a home are not glamorous. They aren’t exactly the jobs we all line up to get. But if Jesus were walking around our houses in flesh every day, He’d be doing those jobs gladly. Why? Because that’s the kind of God we have. He stoops down to do what others don’t want to do. He knows in doing so something is quickened within us.
Like Peter, if we saw Jesus on the floor, scrubbing up dried urine behind the toilet, we’d see our wise and powerful Lord and say, “No! Don’t do that Lord!” But in bending down to do such a lowly task, Jesus, in washing the disciples feet, was impressing on their hearts (and all of us) the true character of God, and the model He desires us to follow. When we submit to the Spirit of Jesus in us Who desires to clean our toilets and fold the never-ending pile of laundry, we let Him impress on the hearts of those in our families the character of Christ, and we give our children a model to follow.

But footwashing is not just doing unwanted chores. It’s also touching the lives of our husbands and children with holy hands, even when sin has dirtied them up, even when the dirt of this world has made them a little dusty, even when they kinda stink to us.

It’s choosing to wash our children with the water of God’s word. It’s stooping down when one son talks rudely to another son, looking them in the eye and gently saying, “Son, that was rude. Jesus died for your brother. Jesus says he’s worth a lot. And since Jesus died for him you are to treat him with respect.” Rather than screaming, “KNOCK IT OFF! I’M SICK OF HEARING YOU GUYS FIGHT!” (Is it only me, or does that senario ever happen in your house?)
Footwashing is also applied to those who reject Christ. Jesus washed Judas’ feet… without pinching his toes! 🙂 Whether it be our husbands when they don’t know Christ, or our husbands when they do know Him and just aren’t obeying Him, or whether it be a prodigal child… sometimes, as homemakers, our footwashing means a willingness to be a refreshing and pure presence that serves that other person even when they don’t respond.
I think often times our husbands respond to the footwashing tasks we do, and the spiritual footwashing acts of maybe rubbing their backs when they’re distant or saying “You’re a treasure to me honey” when they aren’t being so sweet, are hard for our husbands to accept. Some of us have husbands I think who are like Peter. They don’t want us to “lower” ourselves to those things but in their protest they are really keeping us from intimacy with them.

Jesus said to Peter, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” I can see how that truth can apply to intimacy in marriage. If we don’t allow our husbands to do some of the footwashing things in our lives when they desire to, we’re going to miss out on some intimate connection with them. And the same goes with us. If we shrink back from those footwashing things, our husbands are going to miss out on a level of intimacy with us. Some times our husbands need to hear us say with a smile, “I know I don’t have to do that… but I want to!”
I know I’ve seen this in my own marriage. As God’s moved in me, desiring to wash feet in my house through cleaning and ironing, massages and special dinners, I’ve heard my husband say, “You don’t have to do that.” It’s given me such an opportunity to respond with the heart of Christ saying, “I want to do this babe!”
Do I always do that? NO! But when I do I overflow with an unexplainable joy! And there’s an intimacy, an interdependence, and a deepened friendship that develops between my husband and I. And there’s also 4 little eyes watching, learning how to “wash feet”with gladness.

  • What are some ways you can engage more in footwashing things in your home?
  • When’s the last time you reached out and touched your husband or kids with kindness even when they weren’t too receptive?
  • What are your thoughts on this footwashing aspect of homemaking?
So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3

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