Monday, March 14, 2011

Two Ways to Knowledge and Understanding

“One who spares words is knowledgeable;

one who is cool in spirit has understanding.”

~Proverbs 17:27 (NRSV).

Prudence, along with diligence, is a major in the course of Proverbs. There are whole units of moral competence that we can learn out of these two. Even better is it to double-major on these two holy components; their sum is self-mastery.

Against foolishness—which is equally borne in the moral realm (just at the opposite extreme)—are these two.

Prudence is restraint when foolishness plunges forth beyond advice and sensibility. Diligence is acting when it can, not settling for the lap of luxury just because it can have it, per the proverbial (foolish) sluggard.

Proverbs 17:27 speaks fundamentally about prudence.

The Paradoxically Quiet

Extroverts struggle with this; the ability to tie the mouth closed when many things could be said. So, the introvert has an advantage.

But where both will be found out is in the weavings of the heart as it’s poised to give us away—our real thoughts as they’re spoken; rarely or often.

The restraint of prudence that leads the person to be thought of as “knowledgeable” is a heart-bound condition, known to a heart that thinks, and is home, with integrity. Timidity is not the feature of this quiet person. Their confidence is safely positioned and pleasantly founded.

We know one of these... with some auto-suggestion we travel the vista of the mind to find them. Models are good, not to replicate, but to meditate over as we ask God for more of that quality they exhibit.

The Patient One in Chaos

Likewise, we’ve all seen the same unassuming confidence in those we admire for their emotional strength.

These people are the first ones we seek out with a concerning issue. A calm head and an understanding heart is what we seek and how grand that God puts fresh breath in these! Our chaotic moments with them are handled much the same way as their chaotic moments are—philosophically.

I recall how a sponsor years ago, after listening intently to me, asked, “Steve, how important is it?” I felt my world was crumbling all about me, as a thousand ghosts of torment crowded within my tiny mind to plague me. His question challenged me because I knew he loved me, always spoke the truth with me, and he’d lived there (in the midst of similar problems).

Prudent Examples in Life Make Life Better

All of the quietly calm people who’ve passed through our lives have left their safe and certain mark, and we’ve been direct benefactors.

From these, and via the inspiration of proverbs like the one above, we can aspire to become more serene in our disposition in life; to be that person the next person can rely upon, in God’s name.

When we spare our words and can remain cool in spirit, despite circumstantial panic joining inner panic, we have two ways that get us to knowledge and understanding—components of virtuous prudence, a heavenly attribute.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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