Do you ever feel like you are naturally inclined to rebel against God instead of fear Him? This is because our sinful nature often leads us to do the opposite of what He commands. We often think it is best to follow our heart’s desires instead of God’s commands. These desires are amplified even more because we live in a world that glorifies sin. Following our hearts is something we are told to do in Hallmark movies, in novels, and in popular songs on the radio. Our sinful desires are often dressed up and disguised as being good and worth pursuing.
But God’s Word tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). Since we cannot find truth within our untrustworthy hearts, we must look to God for instruction and wisdom.
Obeying God requires faith. Obeying God involves trusting that His way is better than our way, even when we do not immediately understand why. It is trusting that He knows what is best for us. It is understanding that we are fallen beings, incapable of finding wisdom or doing good apart from Him. Obeying God ultimately requires fear of the Lord.
The entirety of Proverbs 14 can be summed up in verse 2: “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.”
One who fears the Lord is afraid of offending the God he loves. He is not eager to please God because he’s afraid of torture or punishment, but rather, he seeks to please God because he’s afraid of displeasing or misrepresenting the One who is the source of security and love. Fear of the Lord is essentially reverence and deep admiration…and it is this fear and reverence that drives us to live our lives in a way that honors Him.
Throughout this chapter of Proverbs, we see a stark difference between the fool and the wise. In 34 verses, we are given numerous examples of how a wicked person and a righteous person are different. What is the core difference between the two? The difference is that one fears the Lord and the other does not.
According to the examples given in Proverbs 14, the evidences that contrast the fool and the wise, the wicked and the righteous can be divided into two inseparable categories: inward posture and outward behavior. We will look at both categories in terms of the wise woman and the foolish woman (although this applies to men as well).
The state of our hearts is of utmost importance to God. One can make outward behavior modifications but still have a wicked heart. What makes a person righteous? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What has the power to change a person from the inside out? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. So please, sisters, when you read these examples, remember that a righteous woman is not made righteous by her own flesh and works (Romans 3:10-12). The heart of a righteous woman trusts in Christ for her righteousness (Philippians 3:9). And her fear of the Lord and security in Christ motivate her to live for Him as a wise woman.
In verse 6, we see that a wise woman is a woman of understanding. She is humble and understands her need for God’s forgiveness and she knows that apart from the work of Christ, she is without hope. She puts her trust in Christ as her identity, justification, and righteousness, and she values truth in God’s Word (v. 8). She knows that the successful pursuit of wisdom begins with earnestness and reverence and so she comes to God with a solemn hunger. She gives thorough thought to her steps and is not easily swayed by the enemy’s lies (v. 15).
On the other hand, the foolish woman is not opened to receiving truth. She suppresses truth and wisdom from God and lies to herself about her spiritual state and about who God is (v. 8). She is gullible and believes a lie without second thought (v. 15). Inversely, the wise woman is crowned with knowledge (v. 18).
The wise woman has a tranquil heart that is satisfied in the Lord. Her spirit is steady and anchored by the love of God. The foolish woman is filled with jealousy and unrest. She is not satisfied with her life and, therefore, “her bones rot” within her (v. 30).
A stark difference can also be seen between each woman’s view of sin. The foolish woman has a low view of sin. She mocks the idea of making restitution when she has wronged someone (v. 9). Her low view of sin is a result of having a low view of God. R.C. Sproul said, “The closer we are to God, the more the slightest sin will cause us deep sorrow.”
When we stand before a holy God, we are simultaneously made aware of his holiness and our sinfulness. The wise woman “enjoys acceptance” from God (v. 9) and seeks restitution with those she may have sinned against. She understands the fear the Lord is the fountain of life and, because of her reverence toward God, she is able to turn away from the snares of death (v. 27).
Our inward posture will reflect in our outward behavior. How does the outward behavior of the wise and the righteous differ from the wicked and the fool?
The fool is unwise with her words (v. 3), she breathes out lies (v. 5), and has a quick temper (v. 17). The wise woman is slow to anger (v. 29), and she is faithful witness. She does not gossip, slander, or misrepresent her God in speech (v. 5).
The foolish woman is reckless and impulsive—she does whatever she feels and is led by her emotions. The wise woman is calculated and cautious in how she acts (v. 16). She is faithfully committed to the duties God has for her and is a hard worker (v. 1).
Lastly, there is a distinction in how each woman treats her neighbor, particularly the down-trodden person. The foolish woman is indifferent toward deviant members of society and gravitates toward those who will benefit her (v. 20). She oppresses the poor and, consequently, insults her Maker (v. 31). Alternatively, the wise woman is generous toward those in need (vs. 21, 31). She reflects God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to others (v. 22).
Sisters, when we look at God’s Word, it is as if we are gazing into a mirror. We are able to see how sinful we are in comparison to God’s requirements of us. If you see your shortcomings today and see you are more often a foolish woman than a wise woman, then come to God, repent, and ask Him to do a work in you. With Him, we able to live in freedom from sin as wise women.
Chelsey Meissner is obsessed with seeing and savoring Jesus. She is a lover of books, coffee, cats, running, and all things vintage. Chelsey is excited to travel the the world with her husband, Eric, who is a Marine Officer.