Nature or Nurture? . . . Or Something Else?

Continuing this morning to work my way through Solomon’s Twitter feed . . . aka Proverbs. And Wisdom continues to speak, providing insight concerning the dynamics of human nature, instruction as to skillful living, and indications of how to recognize wisdom when you see it. And it’s one of those indications that has me noodling a bit this morning.

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge,
   and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

(Proverbs 17:27 ESV)

Okay, gonna be honest . . . it’s the phrase “cool spirit” that caught my eye–who doesn’t wasn’t to be cool? (Or, maybe it’s the Holy Spirit directing my attention here . . . seems verbosity verses have been jumping off the page a lot this time through Proverbs).

Anyway, I check out “cool spirit” and see that the ESV has gone with the most literal of translations. Apparently it comes from a root word that means “to chill.” And it has the idea in this context of being calm or self-possessed. Literally “cool of spirit.” That’s why the NKJV translates it “calm spirit”, why the NIV renders it “even-tempered.”

So here you have an indication of where wisdom is taking hold in a person. They will hold back on what they’re thinking. They’re chill and even-keel in their reactions.

As someone who naturally has a tendency to speak first and think later, this is a bit alarming. Too many memories of being anything but cool. Instances that flash to mind of wave-tossed reactions rather than calm seas of reflection. But, though I’m not there yet, I do think I’m more even-keeled, a little more restrained, a little more cool than I once was. So what’s the deal?

If my self-assessment has any merit, then I’m not simply defined by my nature. Naturally, I probably fall more on the “hot head” side of the continuum. So is it just nurture that’s tempered my temper? Simply trying hard enough, and practicing often enough, that has resulted in some measure of keeping it chill when everything in me would just as soon react? Don’t think so. I think it’s something else. Someone else. Wisdom is having her way.

It’s not that I need to behave in a certain way in order to be wise, but that because I am growing in knowledge and understanding, it manifests itself in being more cool — even when I’m anything but cool naturally.

It’s as I get to know how this world is wired and Who wired it . . . as I understand why I’m here, why my nature is flawed, and how God intervened to renew it . . . as I continue to grasp that the source of true righteousness is not in who I am, nor in how well I can perform, but in believing what God has done . . .

As all this takes–and that only by the illumination of God’s Holy Spirit–then nature bows to a new nature. Nurture is less a means and more of an outcome. Such that restrained words and a cool spirit reflect something else at work deep within the heart of a person. And like I said, that something else is Someone else . . . Wisdom.

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

(1Corinthians 1:30 ESV)

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

As we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, He increasingly manifests Himself in and through us. That’s called sanctification. That’s called transformation through the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). And that’s cool.

By His grace. For His glory.

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