Does God Care About Property Maintenance?

“I passed by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of a senseless person, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. Then I saw and considered it; I looked and I received instruction.” (Proverbs 24:3­0-32)

Until recently, I never saw any theological reason why we should mow our lawns, or control the moles which rip up our lawns, or paint the house, or replace worn-out carpet or drapes. Repairing malfunctioning pipes or appliances, I can classify as practical necessities.

But if we’re not caught up in competing with our neighbors over how nice our house or lawn looks, why should I hire someone to spray for weeds and pests? Why should I care whether the house looks worn out and drab, as long as it’s not falling apart? Isn’t a house merely shelter, and not an idol to be maintained? How much labor and money can I justify spending on my house, when God has more important needs in the world?

I used to think of new kitchen cabinets and countertops and bathtubs and manicured lawns as prideful luxuries. To me, they flunked John Wesley’s criteria for spending: “In spending this money, am I acting like I own it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee? What Scripture requires me to spend this money in this way? Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord? Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just?” (Wesley’s criteria would not let me purchase the book Chicken Poop for the Soul.)

But recently, I saw the Proverbs passage about the lazy person with new eyes. I saw this passage as evidence that God does care how we take care of our property.

God has given me a place to live. God forbids that I should idolize it, or use it to compete for the envy of my neighbors (little chance of that). But by all means, I must take good care of it, particularly if I see it as God’s house and not mine. Who in their right mind wants to trash a gift from God, if God has given us the resources to avoid doing so? And one way to trash God’s gift is by letting it fall apart through neglect.

So while a spotless manicured lawn may be a waste of effort and resources, if I don’t take proper care of my lawn, it will become the jungle of Proverbs 24. If I don’t care for the roof and the siding on my house, it will become the broken-down stone wall. If I don’t invest in repairs on our appliances, who knows what disaster awaits?

There is no one-size-fits-all directive from God as to exactly how to care for our property. Not everyone can live the radical simple lifestyle of John the Baptist (the economy would collapse). But God is glorified neither by squalor, nor by a palace that enslaves us trying to maintain and pay for it. The less resources I need to maintain my home, the more resources I have available to invest in the needs of God’s kingdom.