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Have you ever noticed how builders in home renovation shows take a certain pleasure in demo work? I tend to like watching it. There is something satisfying about seeing a sledge hammer bust up a foyer. Sawing through beams and knocking out walls is transformative. And honestly it looks like fun.

But imagine for a moment if, after demolishing the house, those film crews and builders simply left and didn’t come back, and that was the end of the show.  No beautiful new kitchen. No expanded entrance. No fresh paint on new drywall. Just ruinous piles of brick and rubble. Such a show would not likely air long if all they did was destroy properties and cause neighborhood blights. 

Proverbs 14:1 says: A wise woman builds her home but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.

Scripture tells us in this verse in Proverbs that a woman can either demolish or build her house. What does that mean? It seems to be a metaphor for the influence a woman wields within her home and with the people who live there.

As I’ve prayed over this blogpost, it has caused my mind to recall ways and times I personally have torn down my own home. Sometimes it has been demolished by my own mouth and anger, sometimes instead weakened by my cold, chilly withdrawals. It pains me to recall times I overlooked sins in my children which I should have disciplined. I can think of moments of sin through anger, disdain, and wasted opportunities. I am guessing if you have lived long enough you have a few pains yourself as you recall times you have torn down your own home.

Yet all is not lost! God offers first, forgiveness in Christ if we repent and believe in him! Furthermore, He offers his born-again children wisdom to repair, rebuild, and even remodel where things have gone askew. And if that weren’t enough, he keeps walking with us and working on us by the Holy Spirit (sanctification) as we travel through life. Praise the Lord!

Today I want to warn against some pitfalls we may fall into as wives and mothers. What causes one to tear down her own home? If you are not a wife or mother, these principles can easily translate to other close relationships. Next month I hope to compile precepts from God’s word on how a woman builds her home.

One commentary I read (the Benson Commentary) describes how a woman can tear down her home: By her negligence, idleness, ill management, or want of economy, she lays it low, and wastes all that had been gotten by the care of others. So, not managing the things in her care is an obvious pitfall. Other ways to tear down though, could be through her mouth–by anger and destructive words; through manipulation and seeking to control; through a discontent and jealous heart; and largely, by not addressing sins concerning her own heart, marriage, and children.

Wisdom Builds, Foolishness Destroys

Where might we be letting foolishness have a way in our lives and be doing our very own demo work?

In Our Marriage:

The chief relationship in the married home (aside from Christ) is between a husband and wife. When babies and children enter the scene, even though that baby love is intense, the marriage should remain the chief relationship in the home. It needs nurturing and tending to because it is how your home began, and Lord willing after the children are raised, it is how you will end…the two of you.

If you are prone to mother your husband…
as if he were another one of the children
if you will not respect him
if you belittle him to your mom and girlfriends
if you nag him until he wants to live on the corner of your rooftop
…you are tearing down your house.

God calls women to respect their husbands and to follow them. (Ephesians 5)

That is not always easy. But where we obey God’s word, we build our home. Where we disobey, we tear down. Aim to nurture your marriage each day through talking (somewhere away from the kids) for a small block of time. If you struggle to respect him, remind yourself often why you married him and continue to look for and praise virtues in him. Philippians 4:8 says to search for and focus on the good.
Build him up.
Smile at him.
Pray for him!

With Our Children

If you are a godly person everywhere but in your home, you may not be as on-track as you think. A very helpful quote from Elisabeth George I try to remember as I try to live this out in my own life is:

“Who you are at  home is who you are.”

That means that if you show one face to your community yet wear quite another in your home…guess which one you are? The one in your home. Yikes, eh? Who you are at home is who you are. The people who know us best (our family) can smell who we are and can attest to the truth about where our hearts are. Hypocrisy is easily sniffed out by family.

Do you regularly lash out in anger at your children, but moments later answer the door with a smile? Do you manipulate and seek to control, rather than train kids with discipline? Do you attend events outside the home more often than you eat around the table with your family? Do you give your family your best or your leftovers? 

The people God calls us to serve foremost as moms and wives are right under our noses. It really is important work and it really is forming the lives of growing-up people. This is just as much God’s work as is working at a food bank. And it is the work we are called to do first if we are a wife and mom.
May we not strive to be well-respected, putting our best foot forward “out there”. By all means, we need to be kind and Christ-like out there, but not at the expense of our family “in here”. Dedicating time and care toward the people in here is fruitful and important. Teaching God’s word to our children and modeling Christ’s love (which is best seen by spending time with them) will not return void. Being faithful to build may save you many pains when you look back on your family life later.

Our Heart In Service

Being a mom and wife is largely a job of service.
You wear many hats as a mom/wife like:
clean up crew
sounding board
and I could go on. The heart and tone with which we serve our family can either tear down or build up.

If you despise your work and do it begrudgingly, that will tear down your house. If you think the workload ought to be equal between you and your husband and so you resent that you are the one up earliest and going to bed latest, that resentment may be tearing down your home. If you are jealous and discontent and you think you have the lesser role, you may be prone to tear down your home.

If we become self-righteous in our service or demand and expect praise, we will likely be set up for a fall. If we think we need to fight for our rights rather than lay down our lives, we will miss the joy that is found in serving.

Colossians 3:23-24 says Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

If we build our house with wisdom from God’s word, we will be working unto the Lord and not unto men. This verse in Colossians says we will receive an inheritance as a reward (that is both for this life and for future glory). There is great joy in serving your family as unto the Lord. It is the only way we can truly love and build up, to do it in His power.

Final Thoughts

Back to that bad demolition show I pitched in the opening paragraphs. As Christian women we could quickly drift from building to tearing down our homes based on bad moods, sin patterns, etc.. Building takes wisdom. Tearing down doesn’t. Instead it takes haste and folly. If you feel like you have been doing some sinful demolition in your home, take a step back and ask what am I doing to my own house? Why would I want to destroy what God has asked me to build?

The beautiful thing is that all is not lost. Little by little things can be repaired, but we need to turn toward God’s word and obey His instruction to us as wives and mothers. What is amazing is that those big and small steps of obedience will be more rewarding than anything you might have imagined otherwise. Because God is faithful and His word is true!