One wise person can defeat a city full of soldiers - one kind person can realize the blessing of being kind. Some of us will immediately see all the possibilities in this passage - while others will gravitate toward just one set of "do" or "don't" points. Why is that? I think it is because scripture hits us where we are at the moment. If we are struggling with how we use our resources such as our time and energy, we probably feel like we are constantly out of reserves - we don't have enough when it comes to "crunch time". We focus on the part about not wasting our resources like a fool. Some of us will focus on the advice to be careful with our words because a failure to do so can open up many an issue we would probably rather not have to deal with in the first place - the reminder to "watch what we say" places a muzzle over our lips. Many will focus on the part about one wise person - up against a city of trained soldiers - capture made possibility because of the wisdom of the "one wise person" who knows exactly how to find their "weak spot". Most of us gravitate toward the "command" or "advice" which seems to reflect what is closest to the issue we are dealing with at the present moment. If we have conflict in relationships, we might want to watch what we say to avoid further conflict - having learned one misspoken word actually leads to a whole lot of other words we will be sorry we said later down the road! The truth we need is based on what it is which captivates our time and attention at this moment. Yet, if we reduce scripture to what we need for the moment, we miss the "stash" we need to lay up for the moments to come!
Be sensible and store up precious treasures—don’t waste them like a fool. If you try to be kind and good, you will be blessed with life and goodness and honor. One wise person can defeat a city full of soldiers and capture their fortress. Watching what you say can save you a lot of trouble. (Proverbs 21:20-23 CEV)
I think this may be what Solomon had in mind when he tells us to be sensible about the treasures we store up - knowing there are all kinds of treasures, he wants us to be sensible and store up those which will be of value to us down the road. Today's resources are sufficient for today, but we will need different resources tomorrow. Case in point - today you may not have to purchase gas for your automobile because there is sufficient "stored up" in the tank for the driving you must do today, but will there be enough for tomorrow! We all have continual needs - things we must replenish on an ongoing basis. We also have "occasional" needs - those things which we will be called upon to use on occasion, but not everyday or in every encounter. These need to be stored up - so we have them when we need them. They become as precious treasures to us - we don't want to waste them on just anybody or at times when they are really not going to be appreciated. For example, when we have stored up wisdom about how to handle some situation, knowing full well we have a much better answer than the one someone is trying to implement right now, we ache to get this out in the open - so they will stop what they are doing and do it the way you know will work!
I have learned that people don't always embrace our wisdom - especially if they have it in their mind their way is the best way to accomplish something. They need to try it there way, then they "might" consider another solution. Until they fail, they are not open to any sharing of whatever wisdom we might have. Why? There is just no need for our wisdom until their "wisdom" has been exhausted. They have their own "stores" of wisdom and they have come to rely upon these. Good or bad - they have created these "storehouses" of wisdom - things they trust to be helpful or true - and they are going to count on those to get them through whatever it is they are facing. It is like us with the car with enough gas to get us through our errands today. It works for today, but tomorrow's errands may not be accomplished quite as well if we exhaust all our gas "stores" today! Wisdom is stored up - it is not to be spent unnecessarily - and it is to be refreshed frequently. This helps us get the "mileage" we need for the long haul.
Some things we are to "store up" which actually bring us a little replenishing of our "reserves" in this life:
- Goodness and kindness. Do you realize that kindness and goodness are intentional acts? They don't manifest without forethought and some preparation on our parts. Goodness and kindness are learned attributes. Don't believe me? Think back to the tiny toddler sitting with his pile of blocks. Now remember the entrance of toddler number two - eyeing those colorful blocks and imagining them as his own. What comes next? It isn't toddler number one kindly scooting all those colorful blocks into the waiting hands of toddler number two! In fact, it probably sounds more like a moment of sheer panic as the toddler announces in no uncertain terms, "MINE!!!!" - huddling those toys safe within his grasp. Kindness must be learned - by mom intervening repeatedly to remind the toddler to share what he has. It takes time for the toddler to learn this lesson, though. His repeated terror over having his toys end up in the hands of another will be repeated until he sees his "kindness" in sharing them isn't returned by a loss of his toys permanently! He realizes they get back to him when the playtime is over! Mom intervenes to help the toddler learn the intentional lesson of sharing - the toddler comes to realize sharing is not a bad thing - in the end both toddlers benefit from the intentional learning.
- Sensibility and planning. Storing up and knowing what is good to place in reserve for future days is something some just don't understand. I have friends who cannot rub two nickles together any day of the week - they just spend all they have and bemoan the fact they have nothing in reserve. I have others who you'd see moths emanate from their wallets if they ever cracked it open in your presence! One has not learned the sensibility of planning ahead - the other has not learned the wisdom of giving out of one's careful planning. Planning requires sensibility and sensibility is needed to show us when it is the right time and place to bring forth what it is we have spent all the time in planning.
- Watchful silence is as important as purposeful speech. We can think much, and speak even less. Sometimes this is the greatest wisdom we can exhibit. Not everything we think needs to be spoken. Not everything we have in reserve is to be given out at this moment in time. Sometimes what is kept in reserve is what will be most needed later down the road. Learning the wisdom of when to speak, where to remain silent, and when both can speak forth wise counsel is something we all need. Just sayin!