Walking in WisdomAugust 29-September 2
Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. – Proverbs 14:1 (ESV)
A plain marble stone, in a churchyard, bears this brief inscription: “She always made home happy.” This epitaph was penned by a bereaved husband, after sixty years of wedded life. He might have said of his departed wife, that she was beautiful and accomplished, and an ornament to society, and yet not have said she made home happy. Alas, he might have added, she was a Christian, and not have been able to say, “She always made home happy.” What a rare combination of virtues and graces this wife and mother must have possessed! How wisely she must have ordered her house! In what patience she must have possessed her soul! How self-denying she must have been! How tender and loving! How thoughtful for the comfort of all about her! (Christian Treasury.)
There is a saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” In the story above, “when momma was happy, everybody was happy.” A woman has a huge role in building up her family. Proverbs teaches that the wise person makes decisions that make their homes stronger places. An unwise person makes decisions that destroy their own family. For some people, everywhere they go they leave it better than they found it. For others, everywhere they’ve been is a little dirtier and dingier.
Are you building people up or tearing them down? How do you treat the people in your family? Does your husband see you as his biggest fan or his biggest critic? How about your kids?
Thank God if you grew up in a home with parents who tried to build a stable and happy home for you. Ask God to help you be a homebuilder and not a homewrecker.
Embrace the Mess
Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is empty, but an abundant harvest comes through the strength of an ox. – Proverbs 14:4 (ESV)
Dr. Bill Edgar writes: Since tractors replaced horses, which replaced oxen, few Americans know anything about taking care of oxen. In my youth, I spent summers on a dairy farm. The farmer milked his cows twice daily, cleaned out manure, prepared food for winter and fed his cows, mended fences, and oversaw calving. Taking care of oxen was a lot of backbreaking, dirty, and endless work of feeding, cleaning mangers and stalls, and yoking oxen together to plow. A farmer might well think sometimes how much easier life would be without oxen.
But what if a farmer had no oxen? The strength of the ox pulled the plow. A yoke of oxen could plow an acre a day, 22 yards by 220 yards, allowing for a rich, large crop. Without the ox, a farmer could use a stick or shovel to break up soil, or pull the plow himself, but in neither case could he come close to an acre a day, nor could he turn the soil as deeply and consistently as he could with the oxen. Without the ox, a farmer would break his back to get a very small crop.
What is the point of the proverb? Delicate and dainty people who can’t stand the messiness of the workplace, and cheap people who won’t invest in productive animals (or machines), will have neat, clean, sterile, and poor lives. A life accomplishing anything will include a lot of messiness, including untidy houses and barns. Nothing comes free of charge, not even the strength of the ox. Their price is the trouble and expense of constantly cleaning and refilling the troughs they eat from, as well as all of the other work that they require. But that investment of labor, whether in oxen or children, brings the increase of food, happiness, and enjoyment. Only the foolish dispense with the ox.
What is something in your life that is messy and hard work but worth it? Do you think God made us to do hard work?
Thank God for allowing you to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Ask God to clearly show you how He wants you to spend your time, energy, and resources today.
One Nation Under God
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. – Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
Curious about what made our nation so great and determined to discover what it was, the brilliant French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville set out in 1831 to tour America. He found that it was not our natural resources, ingenuity, nor wealth. He wrote, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard the pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” (Democracy in America, 1835) His words echo what Solomon said so long ago, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
These words at once reveal to us the great secret in all national improvement, national happiness, national peace, and prosperity. Let us not suppose that legislative enactments, criminal laws, courts of justice, and houses of correction, ever can succeed in uprooting evil and implanting virtue, securing peace and protecting property, removing sin, and exalting the nation. These truly should not be left undone, but never for one moment imagine that in themselves they can remedy the evil. It’s only when a nation humbles itself under God that true greatness can be found.
What part do you think righteousness played in establishing our nation? In what ways do you think our nation is disgraceful today?
Praise God for the ways righteousness has been honored in our nation. Ask God to bring repentance and revival over the areas of sin no shame in our country.
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. – Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)
Syndicated columnist Sidney Harris tells of going with a friend to a newspaper stand. The friend bought a newspaper. The vendor was abrupt, and gruff, and the friend responded in kindness. Harris was perplexed and said, “Is he always so unkind?” “Yes.” “Do you always reply like that?” “Yes.” “Why?” “I can’t determine how he will act, but I can determine how I will react.”
David Jeremiah writes: Perhaps the most underutilized word of healing that Proverbs discusses is the “soft answer [which] turns away wrath.” It takes two people to have a heated, angry argument. If one of them decides to use a soft answer and not participate in the shouting match, the heated argument must by definition come to a halt. If you enter a situation where an angry argument is taking place, you can diffuse the tension and lower the decibel level with your soft words. It is a blessing beyond description to see the spirits of a person rise, the life restored to their eyes, as a result of a healing word from your own lips.
You can pour gasoline on a fire or water. Which has been the most effective strategy for you in conflict.
Praise God for being a good of peace. Ask God to help you to respond to conflict with gentleness.
A fool despises his father’s discipline, but a person who accepts correction is sensible. – Proverbs 15:5 (ESV)
A man was on the golf practice course, when the club pro, Maury, brought an important-looking man out for a lesson. Maury watched the guy swing several times and started making suggestions for improvement, but each time the pupil interrupted with his own versions of what was wrong and how to correct it. After a few minutes of this interference, Maury began nodding his head in agreement. At the end of the lesson, the man paid Maury, congratulated him on his expertise as a teacher, and left in an obviously pleased frame of mind.
The observer was so astonished by the performance, that he had to ask, “Why did you go along with him?” “Son,” the old pro said with a grin as he carefully pocketed his fee, “I learned long ago that it’s a waste of time to sell answers to a man who wants to buy echoes.”
Proverbs describes the person who doesn’t accept correction or discipline as a fool. They are fools that despise any instruction that is wise, good, and profitable; and especially a father’s instruction, whose love, tender affection, and care, will not suffer him, knowingly, to give any but what is good and wholesome: wherefore to despise it is not only a contempt of his authority but a slight of his love. (Gill)
If we are not teachable we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. When was the last time you accepted wise correction from someone else?
Thank God if you were raised by a father who provided you with wise correction and discipline. Ask God to show you areas of your life where you are not teachable and to soften your heart.