January 24, 2020
Keep Your Powder Dry
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. – Proverbs 4:23
Recently when I was visiting my elderly father, I mentioned that our upcoming Sunday school lesson was on wisdom and asked if he had any “words of wisdom” for me. I have come to really value my father’s wisdom and reasoning, but naturally did not expect a deep philosophical response to such an unexpected and casual inquiry. He smiled a little and simply said, “Keep your powder dry.” We laughed at the old expression, and then our conversation turned to other topics.
Later, as I was contemplating the lesson on wisdom, I reflected on Dad’s comment. Obviously, the warning Dad quoted had a specific application in earlier years, when a person’s food supply or personal safety may have depended on a usable supply of gunpowder and a serviceable musket. But I began to understand that it also illustrates a wise concept that is timeless and vital in our spiritual walks.
Thinking about how difficult it is to dry out a powder that has gotten wet, I was reminded that it is generally easier to maintain a right state of affairs than to retrieve a bad situation. Several passages in the Bible speak to the spiritual truth of this concept, telling us to carefully guard and maintain our faith so we do not need to try to repair it later. In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses warned the people, “Keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” We find a similar warning in Hebrews 2:1, where we are admonished, “Give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Our focus verse also addresses the importance of guarding our hearts with diligence, and James 1:27 speaks of keeping oneself, “unspotted from the world.” How much better our testimony is if, with God’s help, we maintain our integrity, rather than finding ourselves in need of retrieving it!
Jesus himself often stressed the importance of maintaining watchfulness for His return to earth. In the parable of the ten virgins we see the eternal consequences of not being diligent, illustrated by the five who were unable to retrieve the state of readiness that the other five maintained. Likewise, if we are not diligent to maintain a right relationship with God, we will miss His Second Coming.
It may be an old expression, but not outdated: keep your powder dry!