Read Proverbs 14
Several years ago, our city paid a contractor millions of dollars to build a transit plaza. It was just lovely. The complex housed offices and provided a safe and comfortable hub for bus transfers. Less than 10 years after the ribbon cutting, the complex, comprising an entire city block it closed and fenced in by chain link. Modular trailers house the necessary on site management. People linger on the sidewalks and busses stop traffic to pick them up.
The builders cut corners. They skimped on concrete, and the integrity of the entire place is compromised.
Endeavoring to attain the gold standard of Christian womanhood as charted in Proverbs 31, we tend to focus on the building of the house. But what are we doing, even in the process of constructing that is compromising the integrity of our house.
We don’t often think of the book of Proverbs containing a cast of characters, but two main characters appear throughout the book. Solomon personifies Wisdom and Folly by characterizing them as women (should we be offended?). Not every reference to wisdom and folly is a direct characterization, but there are enough of them in there that it’s pretty easy to make the connection.
So how exactly does a foolish woman tear down her house? Here are a few (just a few) examples of how it can be done.
“Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing” (9:13).
Ignorance is bliss? I guess not. We tear our houses down by not being informed or educated about what goes on under our own roofs. Our child has a problem with lying. We don’t know what to do so we ignore bad behavior. Bad behavior does not go away on it’s own. Pray for wisdom, ask advice, read books, (did I mention pray for wisdom?). Educate yourself and act out of knowledge rather than ignoring out of ignorance.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (14:8).
Manipulation, which many of us are quite skilled at, is just a fancy word for deception. In the end, it’s bad policy. There is a difference between manipulating and sampling knowing your partner well enough to know how to approach him. This applies to children as well. It’s impossible to keep hearts close through manipulation.
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly” (14:29).
I had to be selective here. There are scads of verses that remind us to check our tempers at the door. Angry words put cracks in the foundation quicker than anything.
“To answer before listening— that is folly and shame” (18:13).
In school, my son has been learning the difference between hearing and listening. As a grown up, I need the reminder. Not listening is just plain rude. It’s also a good way to get people to not like you. People including the man who vowed to love you. Love comes a lot easier if he still likes you. Let’s try to be easy to love.
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly” (26:11).
When we leave a bad habit behind, we should leave it behind for good. Revisiting it is just a terrible idea. I just can’t get more descriptive than Solomon did on this one. Let it go! Leave it be!
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (12:16).
This one reminds me of that hard to abide by 13th chapter of Corinthians: “Love…keeps no record of wrongs.” Easier said than done. I find it so easy to fly into a righteous rage over a careless word. Once the dust has settled, I generally find I have misunderstood, and then I have to eat humble pie, which is gross. Not as gross as 26:11, but since it keeps happening… Yuck. Anyway, generally we are better off assuming the insult was an innocent grammatical or tonal blunder and move on. Sometimes assuming this takes quite the imagination, but why not try?
“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down (21:20).
Waste not want not, so they say. Well placed frugality goes a long way to building a home, while wastefulness—of money, things, or time--all weaken structures significantly.
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe” (28:26).
Not much I can add here.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes see Proverbs 31 as the impossible “to-do” list. Well, the list we just went over is not something to add to our impossible pile. Rather, it’s a to-stop-doing list. If it’s all we get done is to STOP ignoring, manipulating, retorting, snapping, wasting, and trusting in ourselves, our building project will go so much more smoothly.