Reveal or Conceal?

Not everything you know, does everybody else need to know as well. That’s the word for me this morning from Proverbs.

A prudent man conceals knowledge,
   but the heart of fools proclaims folly.

(Proverbs 12:23 ESV)

Probably two ways to understand what the teacher is teaching here. The MSG and NLT tip their hands clearly as to how they see the meaning. Prudent people don’t “flaunt their knowledge” (MSG); wise people “don’t make a show” of it (NLT). We’ve all seen them, the know-it-alls who want you to know that they know it all. Solomon says, “You don’t want to be that guy!”

But there’s another way to pick up what’s being laid down here. There’s just stuff we know, things we are aware of, that others don’t necessarily need to know. And we need to know when that stuff is better kept to ourselves.

Personally, I tend to value transparency. Over the years I’ve intentionally tried to practice openness, and that, as a two-way street. I’ve tried to be quick to ask for feedback (and really want it). And, I’ve probably tended to be equally quick to provide it. But this morning, as I chew on the word and reflect on the past, I’m wondering if sometimes I’ve been too quick to share my knowledge. That perhaps, in some circumstances, it might have been better concealed.

And that’s the deal . . . only in some circumstances might it have been better to keep things to myself, not in all circumstances. Or, as the great poet Kenny Rogers put it, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” And that complicates things.

It’s a lot easier, it seems to me, if you choose to do life in a black and white mode. If things are either on or off, then it greatly simplifies the decision making. If I’ve chosen to operate either in a share knowledge mode or a conceal knowledge mode, it keeps things pretty simple–not a whole lot of thinking, or praying, required. But, as I’m reminded this morning, to be mindlessly in the share knowledge mode, is to risk having the heart of a fool. Settling for keeping things simple by being in one mode or the other is the way of the simpleton.

Instead, a prudent person knows when to speak knowledge and when to conceal it.

Prudence. Not a word we use a lot today. Shrewd. Using good judgment. Wise. Not words we see practiced a lot today. Everybody’s got an opinion it seems and with today’s social media platforms, seems few are holding back what they think they know.

But, this morning’s word isn’t about everybody, is about this body in this chair.

I need to know when to speak and when to hold back. When to share, and when not to share. When it’s prudent to reveal, and prudent to conceal.

It’s not an either/or, on or off, thing. It’s about discernment and wisdom. And truth is, I need a mind more attuned than mine is naturally, to navigate such waters. A mind that is more supernatural.

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. . . . we have the mind of Christ.

(1Corinthians 2:12-13, 16b ESV)

Perhaps I’m quoting these verse a bit out of context, but I think the principle applies. Some things need to be spiritually discerned. Not with the spirit of the world, but through the Spirit who lives in us. Not with reliance on our own human wisdom, but seeking the prudence that comes from above.

And what we need, He has provided. For we have the mind of Christ. We have Wisdom.

That I might seek Wisdom above valuing transparency. Wait for Wisdom to lead before opening my mouth because I think it’s a good idea.

Knowing when to reveal, and when it’s prudent to conceal.

By His grace. For His glory.

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