Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Science of Understanding

“Slowness to anger makes for deep understanding;

a quick-tempered person stockpiles stupidity.”

~Proverbs 14:29 (Msg).

Let’s not simply read this proverb and move on. There’s much, much more to it!

We cannot do justice to ‘understanding’ unless we conclude that anger, as suggested above, is representative of such a broad range of folly—indeed, the upholding and ‘exaltation’ of this anti-wisdom against the self control of patience.

Inner Aggression

Anger in this way is not just overt shows of aggression as noted in the susceptible people who necessarily seek or otherwise need anger management classes. It’s fundamentally an inner aggression against other people, situations and even the self. This type of anger is a deep and visceral discord that can be genuinely hard to detect.

We all have some of this inner aggression to deal with.

Secondly, it is a task of maintenance of character that sees us reduce our inner aggression via holistic love. For most of us, again, this task of maintenance is a lifelong contract i.e. we never totally master it.

The Ultimate Remedy – Loving Patience Equals Understanding

Like the above, those who are patient do not just show their patience just to the outer world. Their understanding has them at peace in their inner world also—to almost everything about them.

Perhaps it’s a chicken-and-egg scenario, patience and peace. One begets the other.

Two Vast Opposites – Anger and Patience

They are two different people who essentially epitomise each of these two. Most of us carry attributes of both, and depending on the situation, we bring out what prompts us most at the time.

But we know that to move all our actions and reactions to the one end—that of patience—is to be our ultimate goal.

Never are we to nurture our anger. Even righteous anger (indignation) shouldn’t be nurtured. Forgiveness via patience is always to be our prevailing modus operandi—and it gets easier with practise.

The Science of Understanding

Understanding is a philosophical construct all its own, much akin to wisdom.

In the biblical wisdom of Proverbs, understanding has a special place with fellow attributes of character: prudence, knowledge, diligence etc. Understanding is closely related with insight.

In this biblical wisdom tradition a person ‘long of nose’ is difficult to rile up, slow to anger and hence they are great in their understanding.[1]

This science of understanding is the deep study of the attributes of patience exercised in the most testing of personal, situational and relational circumstances.

This study of understanding—and its acquisition—is the golden temperament of reason toward great results of learning, rapport, intelligence, wisdom and maturity over time.

It has to be a chief goal of any genuinely spiritual person.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Paul E. Koptak, Proverbs – NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 381.

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