Wise vs. Wild Contrast #5: Habits
HabitsHer priorities and routines
Girl-Gone-Wise: Self Disciplined
Girl-Gone-Wild: “Her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner…” Proverbs 7:11-12Â “The woman Folly is …undisciplined.” Proverbs 9:13
Girl-Gone-Wise: “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27
The Wild Woman spent her time frequenting public places. She was always out-and-about. She wanted to be where the action was. She wanted to be amused and entertained, and to feed her appetite for attention and admiration. She was self-indulgent rather than self-disciplined. Shopping, hearing the latest gossip, having a good time, being noticed, and potentially hooking up with a good-looking guy took precedence over other, more important things. “Now at the mall, now at the bar, now at the movie theater, now at the party, now at the game,” is how the sage father could have described her habits, given our contemporary circumstances.
The problem was not so much that this woman went out, but that she went out at the expense of what she should have been doing. “Her feet do not stay at home.” That means that her house was probably messy, her laundry undone, her mail unopened, her bills unpaid, her exam unstudied for, her pantry unfilled, and her supper unmade. What’s more, she probably couldn’t even remember the last time she read or studied her Bible, picked up a good, instructive Christian book, or listened to a sermon she downloaded from the internet. When she was at home, her over-riding purpose was to get herself ready to go out again. This girl could find plenty of time to paint her toenails, but couldn’t possibly find time to paint the badly peeling fence. She was far too busy for that!
The Proverbs 7 woman was married. But undoubtedly, her habit of out-and-about behavior was established long before she had a husband. She had never learned the discipline of giving first priority to the things that deserved first priority. She had never learned to attend to her home life first.
Home is far more than a place of residence with a requisite set of domestic duties. Our home is our inner private sanctum. It’s the “place”-physically and spiritually-where the most important stuff in life happens. Home is crucial.Â If a woman’s surroundings are neglected, out-of-order, cluttered, and chaotic, chances are her inner, private life shares the same fate. And her habitual pattern of neglect affects far more just her. Â It affects her husband, her marriage, her children, and ultimately, her own capacity to live a godly, fruitful, productive life and thus make a difference in this world.
The habits of the Girl-Gone-Wise are very different from the Wild Thing. Both are busy. But they are busy with different things. The Wild Thing is busy indulging herself. She is constantly out-and-about, looking for a good time. And she neglects things on the home front. The Girl-Gone-Wise attends to her home life. Her habits are self-disciplined, self-sacrificing, and directed by the needs of her household. “Her feet stay at home.”
Each day we make dozens and dozens of small decisions. Each individual decision seems trivial and inconsequential. But together they add up to a habitual pattern that is either life giving or life quenching. Paul warns, “If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13) Â The problem of the Girl-Gone-Wild is that she gave in to her own sinful inclination and lived according to her flesh. She habitually chose to go out-and-about, looking for a good time. In the end, the consequence of her behavior was deadly. Her relationship with the Lord stagnated and died.
A long time ago, there was a king named Jotham. He reigned at the time of the prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Micah. Matthew lists him in the genealogy of Jesus. (1:9) The Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about Jotham, but what is does say is highly significant. It says that he “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 29:2) Then, the writer adds this observation: “So Jotham became mighty, because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” (2 Chronicles 27:6)Â Jotham became mighty because he “ordered his ways” before God. That means that he was self-disciplined. Jotham demonstrates that living a self-disciplined life instead of a self-indulgent life is not only good-it’s good for you. Those who do so will reap the rewards.
You can tell a girl by the order and pattern of her habits. “Homeward-faced, wisdom-graced; out-to-the-max, wisdom lacks.”Â The Girl-Gone-Wise recognizes the importance of daily habits. She orders her ways and lives a self-disciplined, rather than self-indulgent life. She keeps an eye on the home front, and diligently works to make sure all is in order there. She always tries to put first things first. And she prospers as a result. As the poem in Proverbs says, her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” She reaps the fruit of her self-discipline. “Her works praise her in the gates.” Like King Jotham, the Girl-Gone-Wise becomes “mighty” because she orders her ways and does what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Â© Mary A. Kassian
This is a pre-publication excerpt from “Girls Gone Wise in a World gone Wild,” Â© Mary A. Kassian to be published by Moody Publishers in 2010. All rights reserved. You are welcome to link to this post, but please do not copy and/or reproduce this copyrighted material without express written permission of Moody Publishing.