Why do I clean my house for guests?


‘They’ll be here in 15 minutes.’

Cue a flurry of activity as I dart around my home, tidying, wiping, moving, adjusting, hiding clutter.

This is me before guests arrive.

But why? As is often the case, good motives are tangled up with sinful ones.

The good motives

There are some practical reasons to tidy before someone comes over. Everything’s a bit easier if the mugs are clean and the toys are where the kids can find them.

This helps me focus on the person in front of me, rather than thinking, ‘Later, I have to empty the dishwasher.’

For me, a tidy house means I can prioritise people.

The bad motives

However, the dark side of my cleaning frenzy can be pride. I’m hoping people will think, ‘Wow, even with a toddler she still has a tidy house!

But instead of making someone feel welcome, I make them feel less than me. All they see is the perfect false front, hiding the real, messy me

It’s exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing: being more concerned with how they looked on the outside, when their hearts were still dirty (Matthew 23:25).

The good news

God’s word speaks directly to this issue:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves...” Philippians 2:3-4

God’s call is to humble myself and value others. Rather than trying to pretend my life’s all in order, I can speak honestly about my weaknesses and messy heart.

I can also be more focused on the other person and how God can use me to serve them.

Whenever I get the urge to frantically clean, I need to ask myself: is this is to bless others or make myself look great?

I can follow Jesus’ example, who came not to be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:45)