When I was in grade school, the lot directly behind our house was sold to a builder. Two twin houses were built on the lot. We neighborhood kids watched the progress on those houses all summer long. Once the workers completed their workday and left the site, we would all gather around and check out what had been done that day. I remember jumping down into the pits that became the foundations of the homes. It had been great fun to watch the earth-moving equipment dig those huge holes and challenging to climb back out of them. I marveled at the sure-footed roofers as they completed the tops of the houses. But the phase that fascinated me most was watching the bricklayers, as each day the walls grew higher and higher. The men were so careful with measuring and setting guide lines and seeing that everything was level as they progressed. Eventually there were four new homes on that site.
I was recently reminded of this, my early introduction to construction, when I came across the following verse in Proverbs 14:1: The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. (NIV) I remembered how meticulous those bricklayers were and how their efforts resulted in four solid walls rising gradually over the weeks.
I’d like to be thought of as being wise, rather than foolish. But I would never be foolish enough to tear down my own house! Or would I? We can all do destructive things that affect our families, homes, and neighborhoods without realizing it. Sometimes parents and spouses can be unduly critical to the point of crushing the spirits of their kids or “other halves.” When we fail to express gratitude, it can devastate another who has made an effort, big or small, to please. When we carry grudges or are slow to forgive, it can destroy our “houses” as well as our relationships outside the home.
Hence, to be regarded as wise, rather than foolish, I must make the effort to build meticulously, considering each “brick” I lay. Is the brick aligned properly, to the point that other bricks can be laid on it so a sturdy house will result? Each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 5:10-11) Am I being encouraging? Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2) Do I express gratitude regularly? Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15) Do I harbor resentment or nurse my anger? Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)
Dear Lord, please help me build wisely on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ and to choose materials that will build a strong house on that foundation, rather than tearing that house down.