The Power to Tear Down or Build Up
Series: Becoming a Woman of Discretion
Monday, August 4 2008
Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we’ve moved now into the 21st century, we find so few models of truly wise women and so many models of foolish women. There’s such a widespread lack of teaching and understanding today.
One of the things that God has really put on my heart is the need for us as women to realize the power of our influence and to ask God to examine our hearts and our lives as Christian women to show us areas where we are foolish though we may have been blind to it or ignorant of it. We need to get wise to where we’ve been foolish.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Monday, August 4. You’ve probably seen news reports showing a building being imploded. The tearing down of a building can draw huge crowds as engineers demonstrate their power to reduce a large, stable structure to a pile of rubble.
Today on Revive Our Hearts Nancy Leigh DeMoss will warn us of a similar power we have as women. Now, most of us will never demolish an old building, but we can tear down our families and those around us through our words and actions. Here’s Nancy to explain.
Nancy: Throughout the book of Proverbs we read about two different kinds of people. These people are as different from each other as night is from day. We see over and over again references to people who are wise, and the opposite of wise people are those who are foolish. Wise people and foolish people.
When we speak of somebody being wise or being foolish, we’re talking about the condition of their heart. We’re talking about an inner character, what they’re like at the core of their being.
Now we find through the book of Proverbs that whether a person is wise or is foolish in their heart and in their character will determine everything else about them:
the way that they think
the way that they act
the way that they have relationships
the way that they talk
the way that they dress
everything about their lives
the way they spend money
the way they use their time
This is all going to be determined by whether they are wise or foolish.
A person with a wise heart is going to live wisely. A person who has a foolish heart is going to live foolishly. What’s on the inside is going to come out. What comes out in our way of living in every area of life is invariably going to have an influence on the people around us. So our character, our heart, is going to express itself, it’s going to manifest itself, and who we are in our daily living is not just going to matter to us. It matters to the people around us. The people we live with, the people we work with will be influenced by our wisdom or our foolishness.
Now there’s a verse in Proverbs chapter 14, verse 1, that applies this matter of wisdom and foolishness to women—two kinds of women. There are two kinds of women in this room. And at any given moment in my life, I’m living as one of these two kinds of women. Proverbs 14:1 says, “Every wise woman builds her house, but every foolish woman tears it down with her hands.”
Two kinds of women. There are wise women and there are foolish women. Some days I’m acting very much like a wise woman and some days, more than I care to think about, I’m acting very much like a foolish woman because what’s in my heart at any given moment is what’s going to come out.
We see here that the results or consequences of what’s in our heart are pretty serious. If a woman has a wise heart and she’s living wisely, she’s going to be a builder. She’s going to be building up her home. Now we’re not speaking here of just a literal home, although this certainly applies to our families. If you are a married woman, if you have a husband, if you have children, that’s the first home where this all needs to be applied. That’s where wisdom or foolishness comes out in the first place.
But your home may also be other aspects of your surroundings. Your workplace. Your church environment. Your neighborhood. All that is around you. The sphere of influence that God has given you. If you are a woman of wisdom, your life will be constructive. It will be building up the people around you.
Now we would like to be wise women, but we have a warning here and that is that sometimes we can be foolish women. What happens with the foolish woman? She doesn’t just keep her foolishness in her heart. It comes out and it is highly destructive in its influence. The foolish woman tears her house down with her hands.
Now notice in this passage we’re not really given a middle ground. I’m either building up or I’m tearing down. Now ask yourself, what kind of influence am I having on the people around me? Am I having an influence that’s the result of a heart of wisdom or am I having an influence that’s the result of being a foolish woman?
I think we really underestimate the incredible influence that we have as women—for evil or for good. The influence that we have in our homes, in our churches, in our community and in this nation. Now you may not think of yourself as a very influential woman, but I’m here to say you are, and I am.
John Adams, who was the second president of the United States, pointed that out in relation to women in this quote. He said:
From all that I have read of history and government, of human life and manners, I have drawn this conclusion, that the manners of women were the most infallible barometer to ascertain the degree of morality and virtue of a nation.
Do you hear what he’s saying there? If you want to find out how moral and virtuous a nation is, go and look at the way that the women act. He goes on to say:
The Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the Swiss, the Dutch, all of them lost their public spirit and their republican forms of government when they lost the modesty and domestic virtues of their women.
He’s just affirming what God says in His Word. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1, NASB).
I have a friend who is an older man of God. For many years he’s been a speaker, an author. He told me recently that back in 1985 as he was praying, God pressed upon his heart with a strong sense that we were going to see in the years ahead a widespread increased wickedness and corruption among women. He said this was such a heaviness to him, such a strong sense that he began to make it a matter of earnest prayer.
As we talked about this just within the last several months, he shared this with me now many years later. We began to discuss how true this was. We began to name women and some of the names will come to your mind. Women who are well-known in our nation who just epitomize this widespread evil influence of women.
But it’s not just among the well-known women. Among women broadly there’s been a great increase in these last few decades of corruption and wickedness. In recent years we’ve seen in the highest places in our land the powerful influence of ungodly women. The power these women have had to tear down, to destroy, not just individual men, though they have certainly done that, but also the moral sensitivities and fiber of the whole nation.
Now I’m not saying in all of this that men are blameless, but God didn’t call me to preach to men. God didn’t give me the role of facing men with their need for change. God called me as a woman to challenge us as women to see what is our responsibility in this matter.
Let me go a step further. This problem of widespread wickedness and corruption among women is not just in our secular culture. I think you would probably agree with me that in our evangelical Christian world as well there has been an increase, a great increase in ungodliness and foolishness among women.
In so many ways we have redefined what it means to be a woman or what it means to be a man and what the differences are between the two. It’s not uncommon today in Christian settings and even in ministry settings to hear women and men saying that there really aren’t any differences between men and women—any differences of significance. We’ve lost our moorings. Think of some of these old-fashioned words: modest, chaste, discrete, pure. Many women today, many Christian women don’t even know the meaning of those words.
A few years ago I became involved in a situation where there was a Christian leader who had been involved in inappropriate behavior with a female staff member. When his wife faced him with this information, his response was, “Come on, this is the ’90s.” You see the thinking there? Things have changed. Times have changed. Well times certainly have changed, but truth never changes.
As we’ve moved now into the 21st century, we find so few models of truly wise women and so many models of foolish women. There’s such a widespread lack of teaching and understanding today. One of the things that God has really put on my heart is the need for us as women to realize the power of our influence and to ask God to examine our hearts and our lives as Christian women to show us areas where we are foolish though we may have been blind to it or ignorant of it. We need to get wise to where we’ve been foolish so that we can repent and so that we can begin to model the heart of a wise woman.
Then let me take it a step further. Not only do we need to see where we have been foolish so that we can change by God’s grace, but what a need there is for us to teach our daughters and to teach younger women in this generation what it means to be a wise woman. Now first we teach by our example. But then we teach by our words and our discipleship and our mentoring, taking these younger women under our wings and teaching them what it means to be pure, to be modest, to be chaste, to be a godly woman in a dark and ungodly day.
We not only need to teach our daughters and our younger women, but mothers need to be teaching their sons along with the fathers teaching. But mothers as a part of that, teaching their sons what it means to be a man of God and what qualities to admire in a woman and what qualities to avoid in a woman. What does a foolish woman look like? What does she act like? What are her characteristics?
Proverbs chapter 7, provides for us I think one of the most vivid, thorough descriptions of a foolish woman that you will find anywhere in God’s Word. Now I want to begin reading just the first five verses of this chapter and then in the days ahead we’ll go verse by verse through this entire description of a foolish woman and see if there’s anything in this passage that God exposes to be a need in our own lives.
Now actually the context of this passage is that a father is teaching his son and he’s going to warn his son about foolish women. So we as woman need to look at this description and see, is this the kind of woman that this man was warning his son about.
So beginning in verse 1, the father says:
My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live.
Now make note of that word live because when we come down the road to the end of this chapter, we’re going to see that the foolish woman leads a man to death. The end of her pathway is the way of death. In the last verse, verse 27 in this chapter, you’ll see that the conclusion of the foolish woman is death.
But this father is saying to his son if you’ll listen to my words and heed my commandments and look for wise women and avoid foolish women, the result will be life. So that says that we as women can be life givers. If we are wise, we can give life to the men around us and we’ll see, to the contrary, if we are foolish women, we will producing death in others.
So this father says, verses 2-3:
Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.
Don’ forget these things, he’s saying. These are so important. Put reminders everywhere around you so that you can be warned against this foolish kind of woman.
Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman” (verse 4).
Look for wisdom. Look for understanding, he’s saying. Get close to them. Get closely related to them. And what will happen? He says to his son if you get close to wisdom, if you walk with people who are wise, and if you stay close to wise people, what will happen? Verse 5,
That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.
The strange woman. Now perhaps your translation says the word adulteress there. Another translation takes that phrase and says the loose woman. The word strange there really means "literally to turn aside." It’s a woman who is wayward. She has turned aside, and she is the epitome of a foolish woman.
In the book of the Song of Solomon chapter 8, verse 9, there’s a verse that references two different kinds of women and there’s a word picture given there. It says that some women are like a wall and some women are like a door. Now as you think about the women you know, and by the way, this is an important thing to notice even in your young daughters because women have more natural bents one direction or the other to be more of a wall or to be more of a door.
When you think of a wall, you think of something that is firm and unyielding. I can’t walk up to that wall—I can push against it, but the wall isn’t going anywhere. It’s not going to move. It’s settled. It’s established. In the Song of Solomon, we’re seeing that some women are like a wall. When foolish or simple or unwise or ungodly men come against them, those women have lives that are built upon convictions and they’re not going anywhere. They’re not going to be moved by ungodly advances or by inappropriate behavior on the part of men. They’re firm. They’re unyielding in their convictions because they have rooted their lives in the ways of God.
Now when you think of a door, as we have some doors in this room. I can walk up to that door and open the door. I can push against it. I can move it back and forth. It’s not going to stay in just one position. That’s a picture of a girl, a woman who yields easily to ungodly or inappropriate behavior on the part of men. She gives in. Her life is not built on conviction.
You see there the difference between the wise woman—she’s like a wall—and the foolish woman who is like a door? Watch for this in your daughters. Teach your sons to watch for it in other women to find out is this woman more like a wall or like a door. The strange woman is the woman who was like a door. She’s a loose woman. She is turned aside. She doesn’t stay in the straight and narrow and holy path.
Now few, if any, of us in this room would consider ourselves to be immoral women. As we’re going to read through Proverbs chapter 7, over these next days, you’ll see some pretty graphic descriptions. The natural response is, “That woman isn’t me. I don’t act that way.” And you may not in terms of outward behavior. But most of us as women today and all of us in some ways have been influenced so subtly by the world and its ways of thinking.
The ways of the world have infiltrated the lifestyles of those of us who are church women. Those of us who know the Lord and we know more about the ways of God have been more influenced than we realize in most cases by worldly and foolish ways of thinking.
Now I’m not suggesting that all of us women, all of us who have been influenced in some way by the world’s way of thinking are adulteresses or harlots is the word used later in this passage. I’m not suggesting that every woman who has any of these characteristics is an immoral woman. But we do need to ask ourselves as we get into this passage if we have adopted any of the characteristics describing this woman.
It talks about:
her ways of thinking
her ways of relating to men
her values that are temporal versus eternal.
You may not be this immoral woman who’s hanging . . . I mean this woman in this passage is a prostitute, in a sense. She’s acting like one. She is knowingly, willingly, intentionally ensnaring a young, foolish man, and we’ll see that as the passage unfolds in the days ahead. You may never have had that kind of behavior, but as I’ve gone through this passage I thank the Lord for having, by His grace and mercy, protected me from those outward expressions of this immoral woman.
But I have to tell you, I’ve been convicted over and over again in this passage that some of those traits have roots in my own heart, that some of those characteristics are ways that I have acted and responded toward men. Not in outward, visible ways, but in matters of the heart.
So we have to ask, “Lord, show me if any of these characteristics that we’re going to look at, characteristics of this strange woman, this loose woman, this turned-aside woman, are any of those characteristics in me? Characteristics that ultimately lead to the ruin and the downfall of the men around us.
Any one of us as women, and I’m speaking to women in this room who have a heart for the Lord. You love God. You want to be a godly woman. That’s why you’re here in this session. But any one of us, and I include myself in this, may unwittingly, unknowingly, unintentionally be causing the men around us to stumble.
I’m not just talking about out there in the world. I’m saying in our church relationships, in our Christian homes, in our Christian schools, in our work places. We may be causing the men around us to stumble in foolish ways and ultimately to go in ways that lead to death and not even realize that that’s what we’ve done.
So we need to learn to recognize the traits, the characteristics of this foolish woman, this strange woman, this loose woman and to open up our hearts and say, “Lord, is that me? Have I in ways that I may not have even realized been a foolish woman and been tearing down the lives of the men around me?”
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss wants to pray with you and she’ll be right back to do just that, but first let me show you how you can follow up on today’s program and study the differences between a wise and foolish woman for yourself. Nancy’s written a booklet called Becoming a Woman of Discretion that goes into detail about some of the issues we’re dealing with this week on the program. The nice thing about the booklet is you can sit with it quietly during your own Bible study time and take it at a pace that’s comfortable for you. It’s an effective way to learn how to avoid being a foolish woman.
When you donate to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll say thanks by sending the booklet Becoming a Woman of Discretion. Ask for the booklet when you call 1-800-569-5959 or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com. There’s a place on the site to indicate you’d like a copy of Becoming a Woman of Discretion.
Well, if you ever have trouble keeping track of that type of information, everything I provide here at the end of the program, I hope you’ll sign up for the Revive Our Hearts Daily Connection. It’s an email that lets you keep up with all that’s going on with Revive Our Hearts. You’ll read key quotes from Nancy and then "Quick Links" will allow you to find more information from each day’s program.
In fact, we received an email from a woman who had spent quite a bit of time in China and she used the Daily Connection email to read Nancy’s key quotes, but all the links were blocked. She writes, “Now that we’re home, I’ve been able to enjoy the whole transcript and other resources on a daily basis. I thank you for including what you did on the email as it helped me connect to your ministry for our time abroad.” To subscribe to the Daily Connection yourself, just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.
Tomorrow find out how clothing can reveal the foolishness of a heart. Now let’s pray with Nancy.
Nancy: Let’s just take a moment now and pause and open our hearts to the Lord. You may want to just bow your head there before the Lord and say, Lord, show me any ways that I’ve been a foolish woman. Show me any ways that I’ve been a loose woman and any ways that I’ve never seen. I’ve been blind to it. I haven’t realized it. But I just want to be honest before You. I want You to shine the light of Your Word and Your truth into my heart and expose what I may never have seen.
And Lord, where there are those ways in me may I be quick to confess, to agree with You, to repent, and then would You make me into a wise woman? Would you make me into a woman who builds up the lives of the men around me, that my life may be a godly influence? Thank You, Lord, for Your Word and Your ways that are given to protect us and for our good and for the good of those around us. We pray that Your Word would give insight and light into our lives, that You may be glorified through us as Your women. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
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