Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 21:20
"There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man swallows it up"
This is a lesson in money management but also the actions of fools. Unfortunately, many in our culture will fall into the foolish category based upon the insights in this proverb.
This is the Hebrew word hamad, which means to desire, delight in, pleasant, precious, also covet or lust after. An interesting side note is that the Arabic Mohammedcomes from this root word.
Clearly the treasure pictured here is that which is highly prized and took significant time to amass or produce. It is not just valuable but greatly desired and/or something of significant value. It is this kind of item that the fool has no real regard for but instead just sees it as another way of satisfying what they want at the moment. They are selfish in an immediate way. All of life is about meeting their needs at the moment they are living in. There is little thought about tomorrow or long-term joy. Eventually the fool will become consumed with the idea of “right now” so much that it will be all that matters. "Am I happy right now?" This level of selfishness leaves a person perverted and chasing shadows no matter how much money they have.
The dwelling of the wise is a place filled with stored-up treasure: treasure that took a while to amass; treasure that took self-denial to build; treasure that was not instant in its development. In the biblical times it required a great deal of time and energy to create oil: growing the olives, harvesting the olives, pressing the olives, filtering and collecting the oil, and retaining a measure of oil over that which was required for daily use. All of this is something of which the fool is largely incapable.
The questions arise immediately: How much of what you earn do you save? Do you spend all that you make and even more? If you receive an inheritance or bonus or sum of money, is it gone quickly or is it invested wisely? How have you demonstrated that you can deny your selfish wants in order to build reserves for the future?
This proverb hints at the ancient 10 - 10 - 80 principle for money that you earn: 10% goes to God as a tithe; 10% should be saved; you should live on 80% of what you make. A person does not build a stable future in big chunks but through small sacrifices that over time become automatic.
Don't be a fool and live to the edge of your income. Don't be a fool and consume on today's happiness, treasures that took a lifetime to build.