Building Up or Tearing Down?

Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This verse begs a compelling question for us as mothers: Am I building my house up? Or am I tearing it down? It says I am fully capable of doing both- and that should cause us all to consider which we are spending our days doing.

I am particularly convicted by the thought that I am capable of tearing my house down “with my own hands.” There are plenty of things in this world that will come and try and tear our houses down, but God forbid it would be my own hands. How could these dish-washing, diaper-changing, clothes-folding, toilet-scrubbing hands be tearing my house down?

The King James Version of this verse reads, “…but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” The Messages reads, “tears it down brick by brick.” The idea is more of a slower un-doing than a total destructive bulldozing. I think it speaks to the little ways we can “pluck” apart our families and homes with two things- our motivations and our mouths.

Our daily tasks and the many roles and responsibilities we’ve been given can be done “for the Lord” (as Colossians 3:23 reads), or they can be done with a selfish motivation. Are we tending the dishes, diapers, clothes and toilets with bitterness or resentment? More out of guilt than out of joy? Are we looking to “pluck” appreciation from those we are serving (i.e. they’d better be grateful!)?

Then comes what I think is our greatest “tearing down” tool- our mouths. James speaks to the power of the tongue and says it can “set the whole course of our life on fire.” (James 3:6). By our words, we absolutely are capable of tearing down those with whom we share our homes. A careless word that stings the soul of a child, a frustrated criticism that cuts to the heart of my spouse, an angry or cold remark spoken in bitterness or resentment.

James goes on to say, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers (sisters) this should not be.” (James 3:9-10). Are my words building up my home, or are they tearing it down word by word, “brick by brick”?

Of course, we want to be home builders. We want our work to be done with God-honoring motivation, and our words to come from encouraging mouths. We want to build a home that protects those inside and where their character and strengths and hopes are all built well to hold up against the destructive forces of this world.

The book of Nehemiah tells a whole story of builders. God’s people were working together to rebuild the wall around their city so they could protect their homes. Their enemies were “very angry” and “they all plotted together to come up and fight against Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 4:7-8).

So, catch what the determined Jewish builders did. Nehemiah 4:17 says, “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” May we be mothers who build up- one hand on our work and, when needed, another hand on our weapons.

There are plenty of enemies working to tear down our homes from the outside. May nothing I do assist them by tearing it down also from the inside.

Jeremiah records a prayer of promise God spoke for His children Israel, and I think we can speak it for ours as well.

My eyes will watch over them for their good.

I will bring them up and not tear them down.

I will plant them and not uproot them.

God will give us all a heart to know Him.

We will be God’s people, and He will be our God.

(Jeremiah 24:6-7).

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