There are two kinds of people in this world …

My grandfather said it, my dad said it, and I say it. My children hear the familiar refrain, “there are two kinds of people,” more than they wish. That statement is true. Given any matter of life, it holds up. It holds up because it is biblical. On most any topic in Proverbs, we see how two kinds of people — the wise and foolish — think, speak, relate, work, and act. The same is true in life.

This post will be slightly longer than usual. That is because chapter 14 is like a sock drawer, it is stuffed full and things pop out when you open it. Let’s plan our walk through this chapter. First, we need to shift gears down and move slowly. Second, as we tour more slowly we will take in more scenery. This will result in us examining more verses than we have in previous posts. Third, we will circle back and dig into verse one. Fourth, we will gather up some verses and pray though them. This last step might be new to some. I’ll gladly demonstrate how to wrap a verse around yourself and personalize it through prayer.

So, before we set off on this hike through chapter 14 you might want to visit the restroom, pour a cup of hot tea or coffee, and light a cigarette (just kidding).

 

 

Base Camp: Verse One

Verse one will serve as our home base.

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

This verse has it all: striking word pictures and penetrating truth scrunched into 16 words. The general idea here is that some people build and others destroy. We know who is who here. In fact, someone in each of those two categories of people might have flashed in your mind. Let’s move along the trail and take in some eye-opening principles.

 

 

Strolling and Studying:

As we meditatively mosey along I will attempt to offer a summary and application of a few key verses:

  • Verse 4 – Excuses aid the lazy in remaining sloth-like. It goes like this, “I didn’t get an ox to plow with because I would have to clean up after it; cleaning stalls is hard work. Even though I do not have grain stored up in my barns, my ox stalls and troughs are clean.” Some people exert greater effort in manufacturing excuses than in working.
  • Verse 6 – As you grow in wisdom, further growth is more attainable and consistent. See Matthew 13:10-13
  • Verse 8- The wise live deliberately by knowing what they are doing and why; fools stagger along with no direction.
  • Verse 11 – A fool can fail in a fancy house; the wise can thrive in a tent. In other words, it’s not your situation that brings, or ruins, abundance, it’s your character.
  • Verse 23 – Big plans and words do not put food on the table; the wise see work as honorable and profitable. Remember, God speaks highly of work and doing work well. He commands us to work, and to do our work for His honor. See 1 Thessalonians 4:11 and Colossians 3:23.
  • Verse 30 – You cannot have a satisfying life with envy (or bitterness) slithering around inside you. When envy, then bitterness, invades your heart it will strangle your life.
  • Verse 33 – Wisdom rests quietly in the heart of the wise; foolishness constantly drips out of the mouth of fools. Consider this verse and apply it to talk shows. Hmmm …

Now that we have made the loop around the chapter we arrive back at base camp – verse one. Let’s unpack it, and apply it through prayer.

 

Building or Breaking:

Verse one teaches us that wise women (or men) are builders. In particular, whether it is family, friends, or those in need, wise women and men encourage and build up others. (See Romans 15:2, Ephesians 4:28, and 1 Thessalonians 5:11). God wired us for relationships; we were created to relate. We are relating at our best when we are building up others.

Verse one also shows us that the foolish are destroyers. They divide and tear down others and poison relationships. This is because they cater to themselves in everything, at all times.

 

Applying and Praying:

We have seen many first-rate truths in this chapter. Reading and appreciating them isn’t the end of the exercise though. It’s the beginning. As with any time in the Bible, application is the end point. How do we link reading and marveling at God’s Word to living it? Through prayer. As you finish your reading in Proverbs 14 select a handful of verses and personalize them through prayer. Here are three of the verses from our previous list with a prayer of application to prime your pump:

“The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.”Proverbs 14:8

*God, please help me to examine what I do and why I do it so that I can discern how to follow you better. Please use Your Word each day to keep me from focusing on myself and following my plans.

“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

*God, please remind me to work hard as a way to honor You and help others. Help me to do my work as service to others. And, please provide me with a huge raise this year. Just kidding. I’m making sure that you are still paying attention.

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” Proverbs 14:1

*God, please remind me that a mark of wisdom is to build up others. Help me to be a builder and to stay away from those who divide and destroy. Give me opportunities today to encourage, build up, and love others as Jesus would.

 

Wrapping it up:

There are two kinds of people in this word: the wise who are building and the foolish who are breaking; those who are listening and applying, and those who are ignoring; those who are doing and those who are making excuses. There are two kinds of people in Proverbs, you know who they are. There are two kinds of people in your life, are you recognizing them with greater clarity now?

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