I live in an educated society. In the Bible Studies I’ve led, nearly every woman has completed high school. More than half of them have a college degree. Maybe 10% have more than 1 degree including a masters and PhD. Yet this society in which I live is filled with educated people who continue to make stupid choices that cause all kinds of heartaches. Why is that?
As a student, I was an academic achiever. I had lots of head knowledge from books, but my mom said to me in high school that I just didn’t have any common sense. She added that I would let my emotions rule my head. She was right. At 19, I discovered God’s Word, His knowledge. And I have been on an adventure ever since to learn from Him and apply what I learn to my life. If my heart is going to rule my head, at least I want to have a wise heart!
How to have a wise heart
The book of Proverbs is all about how to have a wise heart. Wisdom is not just for those who are smart in the head. Hooray for that! You can have a wise heart if you never completed high school. And you can have a foolish heart if you have a PhD. The difference is in the choices you make in applying what you know to be true. Are you going to choose God’s way of approaching life or your own? That is just as true today as it was 3000 years ago when Proverbs was written.
There’s nothing wrong with being educated women. God wants us to be as knowledgeable as we can be about the world that He designed. I believe that it gives God great pleasure to watch us diligently study His creation and share our enjoyment of that with others. But, God wants us to be educated women who know Him and follow His ways first of all.
And, that begins with the heart. Proverbs 4:23 says,
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
In biblical language, the heart is the center of the human spirit. Our emotions, thoughts, motivations, and actions—the wellspring of life—all of those things spring from our hearts. Being wise is a quality of the heart—not just education of the mind.
Think about this: What often happens to smart people who think they know a lot? If we think we are smart, we tend to rely on our know-how and our own tactics to solve life’s problems. I struggle with this still. I don’t always go to God with a sense of inadequacy, seeking His guidance, before I launch headfirst into “fixing” a situation. Do you do that?
Several years ago, I was in a class studying 1 Corinthians. The beginning of chapter 8 just struck me. Paul is speaking to Greeks who prided themselves on how much they knew. He says to them in v. 8,
We all possess knowledge. But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.
Knowledge is proud that it has learned so much. But, it’s not being smart that makes us wise! It’s our hearts—your choices and my choices of what to do with what we know! God’s desire for us as women is that we have wise hearts!
There are lots of references to women in the book of Proverbs. One summer, I read through Proverbs and color-coded all the references to females. At the end, I have 4 full pages of verses! I put those into 4 categories of women then looked at their hearts.
#1 The foolish woman—What kind of heart does she have?
Proverbs 9 names this woman “Folly” and says that her heart is undisciplined and is ruled by her emotions. She acknowledges nothing of truth. She is self-centered, wanting prominence and seeking attention. She offers excitement to those around her but delivers danger. She’s empty. Beautiful on the outside but it’s only skin deep. Wasted beauty. She lacks discretion. Her heart is willfully destructive with no thought for consequences. Her heart is self-serving. It sucks the life out of those around her.
You know women like this who never seem to learn the lesson of how to make good choices. And, their bad choices affect those who live around them. That’s the foolish heart.
#2 The contentious woman—What kind of heart does she have?
The contentious woman’s heart is quarrelsome. It stirs up trouble and is ill-tempered. That involves complaining, whining, & nagging. Proverbs 27 says being in her presence is as aggravating as a constant drip-drip-drip from the faucet. Homelessness is better than being around her! She drives away family. Her heart is impossible to restrain because it has determined to be contentious!
The contentious woman is not necessarily lazy or undisciplined like the foolish woman. She might be a perfectionist or overachiever. Perfectionists can be very contentious. I read this somewhere:
Perfectionists are people who not only hold unrealistically high standards but also judge themselves or others as always falling short. The thing about perfectionists is that they don’t ever experience satisfaction…Nothing is ever good enough.
And, that’s in spite of their many accomplishments. Perfectionists can be contentious women.
You know women like this who are never satisfied. Maybe this describes you. Here’s a word of wisdom— God expects faithfulness from us, not perfection. Okay? Having a contentious heart is not a good thing.
#3 The immoral woman. What kind of heart does she have?
Proverbs 7 describes the immoral woman as defiant, restless, deliberate, and scheming. She rejects and deserts her covenant partner. Her heart is seductive, persuading others for evil. And, she denies accountability for her behavior. Proverbs 30:20 says this,
This is the way of an adulteress: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I’ve done nothing wrong.”
A woman who is deliberately doing this behavior may have spent years of gradually letting herself be drawn into this kind of heart and lifestyle. I don’t want to have the heart of an immoral woman. And, I hope you don’t, either.
#4 The wise woman—What kind of heart does she have?
The wise woman’s heart is kindhearted and respectful. She is described as someone who builds up her household or family. She firmly establishes it, causing it to continue. Her heart is others-focused, and she sees the long-term consequences of her actions.
Then, there’s the woman described in Proverbs 31. Many hold her up as the ultimate wise woman. I believe this entire description in Proverbs 31 is a practical application of Proverbs 14:1. You know what that verse says?
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
The Proverbs 31 description is a poem that uses examples from a middle-class woman’s daily life around the time it was written. It illustrates what a wise heart looks like in the everyday life of a woman who is building her house, not tearing it down. It assumes an educated woman—that she had the skills needed for her life in her world.
What would it look like to have a wise heart in the everyday life of your world? Think in terms of driving carpool, going to work, clothing and feeding your household, loving your family, and using your resources. Your poem and mine would read differently from this one. But, hopefully, our poems would represent women who have wise hearts.
What kind of heart do you have?
After reading these descriptions, what kind of heart do you have? What kind of heart do you want to have? God’s desire for you is that you have a wise heart. That begins with a faith relationship with Him. Then, have an attitude of seeking to learn from Him and choose to approach life God’s way. Not the world’s way or your own way. Not only does He want you to learn to make wise choices, He also wants to help you do it— because He loves you.
But, knowing what’s wise and choosing to do it are 2 different things. It takes practice and skill to learn any craft. It also takes practice to live God’s way. Plan how you will improve your skills by learning Bible verses that lead to having a wise heart.
Anticipate what will be your biggest hindrance. You know where you struggle and why. Ask God to enable you to overcome that. You are not alone. You have a God who loves you and has already given you the resources you need to become a wise woman.
The Holy Spirit living inside of all Christians gives you access to the wisdom from God moment by moment. There’s never a time when you don’t have access to Him. So, you can approach God humbly and ask Him for what you need to fulfill your purpose as a woman, wife, mother, or grandmother. Remember that God expects faithfulness but not perfection.
God’s desire for you and me is that we would have wise hearts, regardless of our education. This is what God says to us in Proverbs 23:15.
“My daughter, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad.” God is glad when our hearts are wise.
Having a wise heart involves knowing that God loves you. Believing He knows what is going on in your life. Confidence that he is powerful enough to do something about it. And, trusting His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (read online)
Everyday Women Bible Study of Old Testament Women (download pdf)