As we seek to establish a robust Christian culture in our homes, we cannot forget the impact beauty has on our souls and on those around us. Barrenness is not what we are shooting for, and yet many Christian homes are barren: colorless, bleak, gloomy, and stale. Is this what we want to export? Is this a sample of reformed living? I have been in Christian homes where the blinds were drawn tight, where the only items in view were simply utilitarian and mostly ugly, where the sunshine was shut out, and the thermostat was turned down so low that not only was it dreary, it was cold too. All I could think of was, “Get me out of here!“ And yet this is the environment many Christian children are growing up in. To see some of our homes,Â to see our tables when we sit down to eat, you would think our religion was one of tightwads, ascetics, scrooges, and grumps. There is a serious disconnect somewhere. Surely we can do better than this and get beyond decorating our homes like they were oversized cubicles.
We do not serve an austere God, but a God who delights to give us extravagance, an overflow of beauty, the abundant life (John 10:10). We cannot ignore the beauty around us or think that it is irrelevant. God is teaching us all the time. It is plain heresy to think that beauty is earthly and somehow less spiritual than dowdy, dumpy, and dreary. Beauty matters to God. His creation is full of it! Consider the passage in Matthew 6 where Jesus says that the lowly lilies of the field surpass even King Solomon who “in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these“ (vs. 28). If God bestows such beauty on His creation, surely He calls us to imitate Him in our lowly homes where we are to take dominion. We are to adorn our homes to the glory of God. A dull, drab, colorless, lifeless home does not glorify God.
Consider a few passages of Scripture so you can see I am not making this up. God beautifies His people, and His house is beautiful.
(Eccl. 3:11) God makes “everything beautiful in its time.“
(Ps. 149:4) “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.“
(Ps. 84:1) “How lovely is your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts.“
(Ps. 27:4) “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.“
(Ex. 28:2) “And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty.“
We are to meditate on the lovely, appreciate the beautiful.
(Phil. 4:8) “Finally brethren, whatever things are trueâ€¦.whatever things are lovelyâ€¦.meditate on these things.“
A house does not equal a home. A home is full of intangibles. And if we want to build a rich, potent family culture, we have to realize that our surroundings matter. We donâ€™t want to settle for mediocrity when God has given us the means to appreciate the beautiful as a way of glorifying Him. We need to start with what we have, learn to look, to study, to appreciate the beautiful. Then we can take a more objective look at our homes and consider how we can make them more beautiful. We have the privilege of being “makers” in imitation of our Maker.
I donâ€™t know how.This is legitimate. Some moms have not equipped their daughters. Not knowing how is not the same as guilt. But itâ€™s time to strike out. We want our children to pass us up. You may need to first pass up your own parents, your own upbringing. Ask a friend for help; read a book (Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer is an oldÂ favorite of mine); take a class. Look around! Take a walk and look at older homes; they have greater aesthetic charm than modern ones. They appreciated the details of trim, wainscoting, fixtures.
I donâ€™t have time (to shop, to learn, to decorate).This can be legitimate also. But just start small. Cut some daffodils in the yard and put them in a vase. Donâ€™t think you have to do it all at once. Start opening your eyes to the beauty around you. Learn to appreciate it first. Then you wonâ€™t have the time to neglect this!
I donâ€™t have money.Yep. Style costs money. Some of it has to do with social standing and financial bracket. But weâ€™ve all seen wealthy people live in sterile homes and poor people live in bright and cheery places. So you maybe canâ€™t afford a leather sofa, but you can clean. Shop yardsales. Money isnâ€™t everything, but it helps! Start a yard sale fund. Save up for new curtains. Cut a tablecloth up and sew them. My daughterâ€™s apartment is teeming with color and life and joy. Plants are cheap and seeds are cheaper! Make some pillows. Paint works wonders.
Iâ€™m embarrassed to try. Consider the many domestic arts, like knitting, sewing, gardening, cooking, flower arranging, or collecting something or other. Many of these things are not a heavy financial investment, but they are a commitment. Ask a friend to teach you.
Does your grandma have some lovely china, linens, or furniture she would love to give you? Take it! As we recover and repair the ruins of our Christian heritage, weâ€™ve had to start at the beginning, establishing right worship, figuring out how to educate our kids, taking them out of the state schools, pretty much starting at square one. But now our children can build on that foundation, and much still needs to be done. They can excel in music, painting, writing, composing, building, decorating, designing, and all the domestic arts. God has adorned us with the gospel. Now we, by faith, can adorn our homes as an outworking of the glorious gospel. When Christian women approach their homes this way, it is not imitating the mindset you see in a decorating magazine. We are not competing with them or anyone else. Though we can learn much from the world in certain quarters, we don’t model their motives. It may be lovely, but for the unbelievers, this is all they have and all their decorating isÂ an end in itself: “Ta Da! Here is the ultimate home!” The homeÂ becomes a source of ungodly pride rather than a refuge and haven for the family. The Christian woman has a tremendous advantage because we can decorate as a means of glorifying God. And when we undertake to do this well, He blesses us in it, and He is glorified.