Christian women often have a hard time gaining a firm footing in life. Young girls want more freedom, like their friends. Single girls want Prince Charming, like in the movies. Married women want children, or more children, or grown up children because toddlers are exhausting, or to reverse time to when their kids were babies again because it all went too fast. Working women may want to stay home while stay-at-home moms see their lives as tedious. We too often grasp after circumstances to steady our stance when we should pursue righteousness in everything and leave the circumstances to God.
Good living doesn’t come naturally to us. Our perspective, bent by the curse, warps our thoughts and emotions. We too often submit to the pull of crooked emotions rather than the tug of God’s Word to draw us straight. We must acknowledge our bent nature and, by God’s grace, fight against it.
I recently read a story of a curse-bent girl who was completely oblivious to her own nature. Daisy Miller is a brief novel by Henry James and it was a bit of a struggle for me to read. Not because it was a difficult read; quite the opposite. This pithy story was much easier to read than his longer novels. It was because she was stupid—Daisy I mean— in the biblical sense. The simple construction of her story leaves the stupidity of her actions glaring out from the pages. She does what is right in her own eyes from page one to her final end. Stupid personified. I won’t tell you how it ends, only that Daisy would have been far better off had she entertained the slightest inclination toward wisdom instead of thoughtlessly practicing her own stupidity.
Who Are You Calling Stupid?
Now, stupid isn’t a very nice word. It sounds rather lowbrow really, and conjures thoughts of petulant children who haven’t yet learned any really bad words. It may seem uncouth, but stupid is a biblical word. Solomon tells us, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). He goes on later to remind us that, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (12:15). We may not find these words very agreeable if we have our ears closed to counsel and reproof as Daisy did.
There isn’t one among us who wants to be exposed as a stupid fool. This is telling. We don’t want to be exposed as fools, but it is common for us to forego taking the proverbial advice that would actually keep us from being fools. We don’t really think that foolish things are foolish. They appear pretty promising from our perspective, so we charge ahead. The reality is that foolish things are indeed foolish. The Lord, however, has given us some useful impediments to slow down our mad rush down foolhardy trails and point us in better directions.
Reading the Bible is a good start. Every word is there for our edification and instruction in wise and righteous living. If your Bible is sitting unread most of the time, pick it up. There is no substitute for reading it, studying it, meditating on it. God’s Word will not return to Him void and spending time in reading it will acquaint you with His will and His ways. It will train you in recognizing foolishness and encourage you in walking in righteousness.
Besides using His Word to change us He also uses fellow believers through counsel, correction, and reproof. Reproof and correction are onerous because they require us to look at something about ourselves that we either didn’t know, or don’t want to acknowledge, and that something is usually disagreeable. In spite of the associated discomfort, we should not hate reproof, rather we should love the discipline that helps drive stupidity out of our lives, and love the ones who care enough about our welfare to point us toward righteousness. When a friend comes to us to point out ugliness in us that our own blindness missed, we should welcome these words as evidence of true friendship. Friends like this forego expressing false words of flattery, which are far easier to give, in favor of the loving act of truth-telling.
A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.—Proverbs 26:28
Though it is for our good, sitting under discipline and reproof is a difficult place to be. It is better for us to develop the habit of seeking counsel before we stumble into the foolishness which brings rebuke. Taking a proactive approach to avoiding stupidity requires a good measure of humility—an affirming-that-we-don’t-have-it-all-together kind of humility. Are you with me? If you think you have it all together, you are on the path toward stupidity my friend. We must recognize that we are flawed, sinful, blind, people. We are daughters of Eve and we don’t know everything—we need help, wisdom. If we do not acknowledge the truth of our situation we will be numbered with the fools. Avail yourself of the wisdom of those around you and seek good counsel. I recommend here a few places to start:
Ask questions. That question you had during Sunday school or related to last week’s sermon?—ask it. Perhaps you worry you’ll sound stupid. It is a small thing to risk sounding stupid in order to better your understanding so you can learn to avoid acting stupid.
Develop friendships with wise women. We need wise voices speaking into our lives, ones that have a deep root system to draw up truth from the Word and apply it to confusing life situations. In Titus 2 we see the expectation that older women will be teaching younger women. This arrangement is a gift to us to help us live wisely beyond our years. Seek friendships with women older than yourself today and when the perplexities of life come upon you, you will already have relationships with women who will not only be your wise counselors, but prayerful encouragers as well!
Talk to those who have authority over you. If you are living estranged from any and all authority in your life, you are in a dangerous place. It is a blessing to us to live at peace with, and in submission to, righteous authority. We can gain much wisdom by seeking counsel from those the Lord has placed over us. So talk to your husband, your parents, your pastor or elders; these people have positions of authority and they have a calling to help and advise you in righteous living.
Wisdom On Your Tongue
We are blessed women indeed to have God’s Word easily available to us and ample opportunity to plumb the wells of wisdom found in our fellow believers. Let us leave off stupidity, it has never done us any good anyway, and become instead the kind of women about whom it is said:
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.—Proverbs 31:26