"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down" (Proverbs 14:1). As I examine this verse once more, I note how responsibility and continuity are demonstrated by both women, though each does so in an opposing manner. Due to their contrasting approaches, the interaction between the wise and foolish woman is often hostile and counter-productive. Ultimately, if the wise woman is to choose to continue to build her home then she must do so with the bricks of protection against harmful or foolish influences.
The foolish woman is actively involved in the condition of her home. The verse uses the word "tears" as a present tense verb that conveys the occurrence as an action and one that is ongoing. The behaviors leading to this result will likely continue. After all, it is done in the presence of foolishness and the absence of wisdom. In such a state, the foolish woman may or may not comprehend how her actions have ill-effects or that she is even responsible for them. The verse makes it clear, though, that she is the responsible individual with the use of the words "her own hands." The foolish woman has chosen character qualities, behaviors and/or actions which are destructive, and consequently her home is damaged or destroyed. Blame or explanation cannot truthfully be applied towards the cause or the results, though she may attempt such. "With her own hands" her house has been torn down.
The wise woman, on the other hand, also demonstrates responsibility and continuity but the result of her efforts is a well-built home. She takes the task personally by accepting responsibility for the construction and outcome. The verse again uses a present tense verb that conveys her action to be ongoing. She "builds" continuously and with intentionality. She understands a strong home is not automatic and not the responsibility of anyone or anything else, and so she purposefully works towards this goal. She seeks and utilizes wisdom as she builds.
The natures of work shown by these two women suggest that each will continue to act in her respective manner. For the foolish woman, she will continue to behave in a manner that is destructive. The home of the wise woman is therefore vulnerable to the foolish woman’s poor influence. She can easily begin tearing down the wise woman’s home if permitted. Again, the foolish woman acts without the wisdom and without such poor choices will continue to be made. However, the wise woman can prevent damage by laying bricks of protection as part of her building efforts. In other words, it is wise to build protection into one’s home and family against poor influences.
Interactions between the two may persist, but the wise woman must be cautious as to the degree at which the foolish woman may be of influence to the home or family. Two homes torn down can serve no benefit to either entity. There are two choices in life to be made: seek wisdom or follow foolishness. I choose wisdom. I choose to build my home.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9
Originally published 11/26/13 at The Focused Homemaker