A cool head and a warm heart. That’s an amazing combination, isn’t it? A nextdoor neighbor who cares about you and doesn’t drop you when you neglect your yard work. A parent who loves you and doesn’t freak out when you’ve blown it. A boss who is passionate about the team’s work and doesn’t shut down when things break down. Proverbs 17:27 describes them this way. “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a person of understanding.”
I think of President George W. Bush and many other leaders on the morning of 11 September 2001 and the many mornings following. Where can we get that kind of calm? From God Himself, of course.
Yeah, that’s the Sunday school answer, but there are many biblical and practical reasons for it. We’ve already considered some of wisdom’s benefits to others. Now let’s look at some of the benefits and sources of wisdom to the person of understanding.
Even in the worst of times, the person of understanding can remain calm . . .
* because they understand that God is using their situation for the good for His people through His glory. Think of Jeremiah encouraging the captive Israelites that God was purifying their faith and obedience (Jeremiah 29:4-14) and Paul encouarging the Philippians that he was in prison to spread the gospel even more broadly and powerfully (Philippian 1:12-18)
* because they understand that God can change their circumstances in an instant if He chooses to do so. Remember Elijah pointing his servant, Gehazi, to the countless flaming chariots surrounding the enemy army that had surrounded them (2 Kings 6:8-23) and the Lord Jesus Himself who could have called thousands of angels to prevent His arrest but calmly let them take Him to fulfill Scripture and die in our place (Matthew 26:47-54)
* because they understand God who has proven Himself trustworthy so many times by using terrible times for wonderful ends (Jeremiah 9:23-24). Re-read some of the Psalms in which the Israelites reflect back on God leading them through and out of perilous times (Psalm 78, 105, 106, 135, and 136) and the entire book of Acts that records God’s work in and through His people as they are rejected, scattered, persecuted and suffer because of their love for Him. Yet, He always cared for and rescued His people – even if the rescue for their faithful death and immediate entrance into His loving, powerful, glorious presence forever.
* because they understand that if God can use a childless elderly woman (Genesis 18:9-15) or a stuttering fugitive (Exodus 2-3) or a donkey (Numbers 22:22ff) or a tagalong foreigner (Ruth) or a nameless slave girl (2 Kings 5:1-5) or a former traitor and mass murderer (Acts 9), He can use me and you, too.
* because they understand that God can use their few words (Ecclesiastes 5:2), uneducated words (Acts 4:13) or even no words (Matthew 27:11-14) to accomplish His good will.
* and because they understand that their trust in times of affliction is a door to knowing more of God’s greater care, strength, and wisdom for His child. Philippians 3 says it perfectly.