Sunday, July 17, 2011

Building Up or Plucking Down

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)

You can watch a house being constructed and track the progress; but plucking it down bit-by-bit can be easily overlooked, until one day one wakes to find it a dilapidated shell of what it once was.

I feel sure Solomon was not pointing out the contrast between the construction and demolition of a residence but, rather, the nurturing and disintegration of a once happy home. Men and women are both capable of being home wreckers, of course, but it seems especially unnatural to find it in women, who down through time have been the natural “nesters” in a marriage. But even in Solomon’s day, there were such foolish women.

As I intimated in the first paragraph, it’s the slow, insidious, “plucking” that characterizes this woman that makes me shudder. It reminds me of how women used to pluck a chicken, feather by feather, till there was nothing left on the skin. It was a slow process, and if the bird were alive, it would no doubt be painful. Not enough to kill, just enough to hurt.

And that’s the way it can be in a marriage­­­­—constant picking at one another, till there is little joy left in one another’s company. It can sour what should be sweet occasions, and dull feelings of love in times of intimacy. The same is true of children. We can pick at and find fault with them for every little thing, till their only recourse it to shun the source of the pain. We have all guilty of this to some extent, but some of us are especially adept. I say this, not to inhibit helpful, constructive criticism, but to make us conscious of not making it a lifestyle. Perhaps if it were more rare it would be more prized.

Maybe this would be a good time to examine ourselves and see where we fit into this proverb of Solomon’s. Are we doing more plucking down than building up? If so, we’re fools; and we may wake up one day to find we’ve picked and picked till there’s nothing left.

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