Materialism and Christianity: Do You Ever Feel Guilty for Decorating Your Home?

Materialism and Christianity: Do You Ever Feel Guilty for Decorating Your Home?

To what degree can we, as Christians, care about our home’s appearance without crossing over into materialistic territory?

It’s not something I go around announcing on the regular, but the husband and I aren’t really “let’s buy a house and settle down” type of people.

Shocking, I know – especially when you consider that a large portion of what I blog about is our house renovation.

For years we disliked the idea of tying ourselves down with debt, even if it was done for very legitimate reasons like 1) creating a safe and comfortable home to raise our (future) children or 2) establishing a passive source of income so that less of our time is consumed by the daily grind and, thus, can be re-directed towards (for lack of a better word) morally superior pursuits.

If you happened to read about our decision to buy our abandoned 1930 bungalow back in July of last year, you’ll remember that we weren’t even in the market for a house. Sure, we had acquired some property, but that didn’t necessarily make us materialistic; yes, the renovation would require lots of work and time and resources, but we viewed it as a temporary arrangement, remembering Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…

Mind you, I’m using very basic statements to explain a rather drawn-out and complex process of internal evaluation.

Yet with time, through numerous conversations with friends, casual remarks from acquaintances, or even our own self-analysis arose the idea that maybe, just maybe, despite our best intentions, we too, albeit involuntarily, had gotten sucked into the vortex that is the “American Dream.”

Rather than asking about our dreams, aspirations, spiritual struggles or, really, anything else, friends and acquaintances alike wanted to know one thing: “How’s the house renovation coming along?”

Despite our attempts to steer the conversation to other topics, I found myself enjoying sharing about our accomplishments and the struggles along the way – yet all the while noticing an inkling of guilt deep, deep down for experiencing so much joy in the pursuit of something so materialistic.

Subconsciously, I compared my love for renovating and decorating against that of some of my friends and acquaintances – arriving at the false conclusion that their natural disinclination to and detachment from the aesthetic of their homes must surely mean that they were somehow spiritually superior.

But one thing was certain: What had started as a fun DIY project for us to learn from and work on together had, inevitably, begun to consume our lives over the course of the past year – only intensifying my desire to understand how one is supposed to live for and honor God in the context of abundance.

How is one to live for and honor God in the context of abundance?

My question isn’t, exactly, groundbreaking – I know. Life on earth for Christians is a daily struggle of figuring out how to honor God while being completely submerged in a very physical, distracting world – a world where dishes need to be washed, bills need to be paid, errands need to be run, and – gasp! – money needs to be made.

So is there a clear boundary, and if so, where is it?

Returning to the issue at hand, to what degree can we, as Christians, care about our home’s appearance without crossing over into materialistic territory? Is God truly disappointed in my penchant for interior design and the satisfaction I gain from making our house a home? Is investing time and resources into our homes considered “storing up treasures on earth,” against which Matthew 6:19-21 warns us?

Christianity has a very long tradition of critiquing a lifestyle focused on materialism. Our main priority in life should be to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) – not accumulate the things of this world (Matthew 6:20).

Throughout the Bible, we see many warnings that marriage, a house, career, money, children, hobbies, etc. all have the potential to distract us from our ultimate purpose of honoring God. In other words, if we’re not careful and intentional in how we live our lives, these secondary components can gradually take precedence over God.

So does that mean we should all take an oath of poverty and celibacy, abandon any and all worldly pleasures in order to minimize all distractions that prevent us from honoring God?

Let’s look at marriage, for example.

Apostle Paul encourages those who are single to remain single and devote their lives to the Lord instead, because “An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:34).

In other words, marriage can be a major distraction from living our lives for God.

Even in the famous chapter 31 of Proverbs, we see the “wife of noble character” – literally the standard we as wives should strive for – doing everything from buying fields, planting vineyards, making coverings for her bed and sewing linen garments to sell at the market. I don’t know about you, but to me those concerns sound quite worldly. 

But you know what else the Proverbs 31 wife does?

She brings her husband good, not harm. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction. She honors and respects her husband. 

There’s the caveat! Her ultimate priority is to honor God, and she does this by carrying out her God-designed role as a wife.

Same principle applies to any other aspect of our life, be it building a career, raising children, decorating our home, taking up a new hobby, etc. These undertakings aren’t sins per se, but they can (and sometimes do!) distract us from our ultimate purpose as Christians. But they can also bring honor to God.

You may be wondering, how can the act of decorating your home honor God?

Going back to Proverbs 31, we see an exemplary role of a wife as designed by God – and guess what? As we previously covered, it involves a whole lot of homemaking – among other things, of course.

The calling of a homemaker is found again in Titus 2:3-5, “[Teach] the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they 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.” 

Tending to our homes – not only the physical elements, of course, but also the spiritual and emotional atmosphere (Proverbs 24-3-4) – is a wife’s first and foremost calling to ministry and service.

The ministry and service doesn’t stop with our immediate family, though. God calls us to utilize our home for hospitality (Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 5:10 and 1 Peter 4:9). Inviting the new couple from church over for dinner, hosting a weekend brunch for all the women in your life, asking a friend over for coffee – all of these are examples of ways we can utilize our home to serve others. Granted, stylish and intentional home decor is not an absolute necessity, but we can’t argue that such a setting is more conducive to conversation than, say, one that is uninviting or uncomfortable.

Another way to honor God with our decorating is through the practice of humility.

Let’s go back to the example of inviting the new couple from church over for dinner. Ask yourself, “What motivates me to do so?”

If our motivation is the desire to show off our beautiful, styled home, we’ve lost track of our main priority and given room to pride. If, on the other hand, we want the new couple to feel loved and welcomed, that’s a good indication that our heart lies in the right place.

I will be the first to admit how easy it is to fall into the trap of wanting to show off your home – after all, when you’ve worked so long and hard to restore something so decrepit, you want to share your accomplishments with others.

But I don’t want to be that woman; I don’t want someone else to look at my home – or my marriage, or my career, or my appearance – and feel inadequate about theirs.

A quick and easy way to examine our motives is to evaluate how we feel about having company when our home isn’t in its best shape; maybe the dishes are piled high in the sink, or the kids’ toys have overtaken the majority of the rooms, or our mismatched, thrifted furniture embarrasses you – does our concern with appearance discourage us from being hospitable?

I could go on and on about this topic – clearly – but I want to hear from you!

How do you reconcile your love for decorating with your faith? How do you maintain your main priority of honoring God in the context of abundance? What is your motivation for decorating your home? How do you honor God through your decorating choices?

I’d like to sum up my rather lengthy thoughts for today with a story once related to me:

A stranger was walking down a deserted road one day, when he happened upon a recluse living in the midst of wild animals. The recluse had completely eliminated all worldly distractions in favor of obtaining higher spirituality.

The stranger was very curious to learn more, and coming closer, he struck up a conversation.

The recluse happily shared how content he felt in the wild – free from the things that had previously competed for his attention. He encouraged the stranger to adopt a similar lifestyle.

“Behold the degree of holiness I have achieved,” he said. “The lion dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the goat, and I in the midst of them. They are not afraid of me, nor I of them; we live in perfect harmony.”

The stranger thought long and hard, and then replied, “That is very impressive,” he paused, “But have you tried living in harmony with other humans?”

The moral of the story is that it is in the midst of the complicated, needy, messy world of flesh where we truly encounter God. To live for His kingdom when you have no outside distractions is easy; it’s the distractions that truly test our faith and ultimately show us where our loyalty lies.

The most comforting of thoughts is that as long as we truly seek His kingdom, the Holy Spirit will guide our decision-making as we attempt to live for and honor God in the context of abundance.

Posted in PERSONAL.


  1. I love this article so thoughtful.
    I often struggle with feeling like I’m being ‘too materialistic’. But on the other hand I think that if God gave you a gift of artistry and creativity to create beauty around you then you should not ignore that, because fulfilling that gift is your gift back to God.

  2. I love decorating. I have creativity and art pouring out of me ! Every wall has potential! I love thrifting . Redoing things with my own hands. I love being frugal when I create . It gives me such joy to make my home cozy. My family loves being in our cozy home , that usually has a yummy candle burning . This art that pours out of me , does it not come from God who made me? I am so grateful to him for this talent. I love my home and decor , but not more than God.

  3. We are embarking on a grand adventure to purchase a home in a small northern Michigan town. Reading your blog helped me debate in my head how I can serve God and put him first as a result of this move. Still fighting with that pride in my head, though. I am working out my salvation as I leave our restored bungalow for a home honestly three times the size! Advantages include: I can substitute teach in a school across the street. I can finish the unfinished house there. I also think of it as stewardship sometimes – offering space for my family to visit. And I can pursue Proverbs 31 as I continue to set up my business as a Christmas character – Mrs. Claus. Praying I keep my promises and unload all the stuff I have accumulated. Actually, I feel like this answers prayers to act upon Mark 6:19 and refocus. Thanks for your coherent words and insights!

  4. As an American who believes strongly in personal freedom I don’t think anyone should have to justify their personal choices about their living space, and I think it’s good to keep in mind that those who concern themselves so much with the way others live are also distracting themselves with trivial matters. That being said, I wouldn’t say that Jesus was ambiguous about this topic, in fact he was more straight forward about this than anything else he spoke about. He instructed his followers to rid themselves of all their material possessions, and was very critical of the rich and those who sought enjoyment from material objects. I would say that as Christians, if we have clothing that is in good enough condition and fits our needs, going out and purchasing more clothing that we don’t need is fundamentally against our values. Our time and extra resources would be better spent helping the poor. Home decor certainly fits into the category of an unnecessary luxury, in the time of Jesus only the very rich would have had the ability to buy items that serve no practical purpose. Now if there is good reason to replace the flooring in our home, because it’s no longer safe or really doesn’t fit our needs in an important way, then that is a reasonable thing to do. But that is almost never the reason, usually people redesign their homes for aesthetic reasons and to keep up with changing trends, and I would say the bible strongly supports the perspective that Jesus would not endorse this behavior. It has also been my personal experience that home decorating and other superficial pursuits create misery by birthing an insatiable desire in the heart. There are endless options in the material world, so we always think that there is a new style, or color, or object that will be more enjoyable to have. In truth we tire of every new purchase or upgrade very quickly, and the need to find something better quickly becomes a prison. I think true lasting freedom can only be found in serving our family, our friends, and those in need. God is the only choice that matters.

  5. Wow, thank you! I searched this topic, and your post was the top hit. Needed your refreshing perspective. Love Proverbs 31 woman reference. I think it’s also an act of trust when we seek to act out of His creative design for us as homemakers. If I’m stingy with my family, I’m stingy in general and oddly serving Mammon by withholding out of worry/guilt. Crazy! Sin is sneaky… Love in Christ.

    • Your words, “His creative design”, resonated with me. I am 65, divorced, a (former) victim of spiritual and narcissist abuse). My house is 764 feet square, and I never knew how to organize stuff. But, I have been listening to audiobooks by Christian women on how to be organized. Also, how to make my home a pleasant place in which to live. I’m a student of the Word and have grown in my knowledge of, and love of, the Lord. So, why do I feel guilty with my thrift store, second-hand furniture that I have arranged in a pleasing way? I think it’s because I feel I don’t deserve anything nice, or that it will be taken away. If you can, please share your thoughts with me.

      • dear sister in Christ, i just read your comment and feel so moved to tell you that i hear you, i understand, and i am holding you in prayer. i am 60, about to reach the 10th anniversary of ending my 32-year marriage to a very emotionally and spiritually abusive narcissist, and i have often felt the way you do – guilt for enjoying having a pleasing home, even on an extremely tight budget. narcissistic abuse tells us that we are worth nothing at all, especially not something nice. that message becomes so ingrained within us that we operate from it on every level of life – and that’s exactly what the enemy wants. he is, after all, the original narcissist ;)

        please, dear Marjorie, go straight to scripture and read about how much God loves you, how He created you and has a plan for you, and let that be the message and the voice that lives in your heart and mind. you ARE worthy of creating and having a home that nurtures you and welcomes others in – and there’s nothing wrong with doing so in a budget! i’ve done that my entire adult life out of necessity, and am so very grateful for the gifts God built into my brain that make me creative in the midst of limited resources. creativity is one of His qualities reflected in us, after all! sending you much love and encouragement to embrace God’s plan and provision for you.

  6. Did an online search and found this post. I struggle because we are in our mid 40s, have saved up our whole marriage to build a home out in the country with an outdoor kitchen and fireplace. It’s not huge or fancy, but it’s new and something you don’t see in our Midwest home town. I had a friend over who called us “rich” but then quickly added she shouldn’t have said it, that she was just jealous. . I’ve gotten other less than complimentary comments… must be nice, I’ll remember to call you next time we have a fundraiser etc… All these Christian friends. I never post pics of the house to Insta or FB. I never brag about it. It’s what WE always wanted, not something to show off . Now I almost feel scared to invite anyone over. I don’t think that’s how I should be feeling. My husband works very hard, 12 hour days, in a factory. We are not flashy people. Then there’s the guilt for feeling guilty. Ahhhh. Appreciate any advice or how to handle. TIA

    • Sweetie, I’m 67. Let me tell you something my 93 year old grandfather told me that I live by, “Never make excuses for where you live. It is an honor and a privilege for people to be invited into your home. It’s your home, your dwelling place.” You see as a young woman years ago, my grandfather had some elders drop by unexpectedly while I was cleaning. I began to make excuses as to why the parlor was in disarray. After they left my grandfather let me have it. He had never been upset with me but that day he was. He changed my thought processes that day.

      Sweetie, ignore the comments, some of which are coming from a seed of jealousy and ignorance. Your home is something you worked and saved for. They can do the same but have chosen to do differently. When those types of comments come up, SMILE and say, “but Gid.” Begin to share what God has done in your life. Tell them how you and your husband put God first and how he is teaching you to be giid stewards. Remind them it came with hard work and prayer. That way your home is a testament to the only wise God, our Savior Jesus Christ. You will no longer feel guilty because the house is not yours but his. You are just caretakers, stewards for a time.

  7. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I’ve been struggling with this idea, and I know I always overthink everything. But I found drawing the boundary at motivations helpful. Do I want my home to be more comfortable and hospitable or am I being prideful and discontented? Thanks for your honesty.

  8. Thank you for broaching this subject. I’m glad to know that I am not the only interiors blogger who thinks about this.

    In the book of Haggar 1:5,7 God asked His people to “set their heart on their ways”. He pointed out that his temple was laying in ruins while they were building beautiful paneled homes for themselves.

    The point? There was a lack of balance. Yes, God wants us to live a decent life. But not at the expense of our worship. The people addressed in Haggai, because of opposition and discouragement, decided that it was better to pursue personal interests instead of (or ahead of) spiritual ones.

    As someone who loves interiors like you, this is a scripture that I often meditate on as I decorate my home and the homes of others. My relationship with God is always first. Everyone and everything else comes after that. And yes, motives really do matter.

    Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post.

  9. I have been following you for awhile on Instagram because I too bought an old home and am renovating it! This is such a great and true post – I can totally relate. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to explain it like that before!

    Sometimes I feel like I’m consistently consumed by it to the point I can’t just enjoy the present, thanks for sharing :)

    • When I was a kid, our home wasn’t pretty. It was very messy and nothing was organized… I was a sad and depressed kid whenever I was there and so I started cleaning it when I was very young…(around 10 years old) because it didn’t look like anyone else’s home I’d been in! I wanted to be a nun so I could live in that nice neat convent that they had…
      But I’m not a kid anymore! I’m a Grandma and I LOVE to decorate! And I love to give! I’ve struggled with feeling guilty about all the home decorations too! Funny, but most of the beautiful items that seem to fall into my lap are either given to me, found on a dumpster in our town where we all recycle things, or bought at yard sales, thrift stores, or Dollar General, (my favorite store in our small mountain town.)
      I think the Lord just blesses His people!
      I know many Christian women who love to decorate… when I get on “decoration overload” I share with others in town. I even started a “One Stop Kids Shoppe” that really benefits our community at Christmas time when everyone is searching for gifts… my friends and I donate decorations and very gently used “gifts” to the Activity Center at our church.
      We let the kids buy them for their families
      for just a quarter… most of the donations are worth much more than that… we put Bible verses on the gifts too and it’s the Lord’s job to get the right verse to the right person…
      Sometimes I admit that I have purposely donate treasures that I love because I don’t want anything material to have that much of a hold on me… but I love it all and feel like it all keeps coming back to me…like I’m supposed to be the distributor of the stuff, or something…I also think the devil likes to condemn us because we’re having fun…and because our homes are giving glory to God!
      Maybe God chooses some of us to decorate… maybe it’s a spiritual gift!
      Once, when I thought about becoming a minimalist, I read an article that said if hard times come, do you want to be able to “give” or will you have to rely on others for the things you need? I’d rather give…
      Call me crazy, but I think Christian women are made this way! Our homes are our ministry, so most of us are trying to always improve them… so even though I got a little off track, I’d say, you go girls! Decorate those homes for your families, your friends, but most of all, for the glory of God!!!

  10. Such an interesting post and a topic that is definitely important for all Christians to read since it applies to so many aspects of life in addition to decor like clothing as well!


  11. I think as long as you are decorating your house for you, and not for the sake of other people’s opinions there is nothing wrong with it. This is a really cool topic that I had never thought of before.

  12. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving décor either! and I like what you said about being aware of your motives for doing something. x

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