Dumb as an ox?

Thanks to my dear brother in Christ, Mike, for giving a website address so that if you want to read Dark Night of the Soul right along with me, you have access to it online! http://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/dark_night.toc.html This is great news! Today the discussion is on Chapter V of Book 1 which deals with the purging of wrath. Ouch!

Today I have an appointment to talk with a corporate leader at the hospital about my termination. What a day to have to analyze a chapter on the sin of wrath. God has a sense of humor and a great love for His children. He has so much love for me that He’s making me think about this when I’d rather go in and scream at the whole lot of them. St. John of the Cross is speaking right to me when he talks about those who have a concupiscence (a strong desire/lust) for things to be “right” and when they are not,  the person of wrath can become embittered until they are “irritated at the slightest matter.” St. John of the Cross says this vexation is natural, but it must be purged.

If one becomes irritated at the sins of others and “keeps watch on others with a kind of uneasy zeal” and the impulse becomes so great that they reprove them angrily, this wrath needs purged. What the Lord wants is meekness.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gives an older meaning for meekness that is not too far from the biblical word’s meaning, “enduring injury with patience and without resentment,” but the Greek is much more positive. The French versions are closer when they use douceur, which has the meaning of sweetness, mildness, gentleness, and good nature. Gentleness is never self-important but is considerate, courteous, and modest, yet willing to try when a job needs to be done. In The Full Life Study Bible defines it as restraint coupled with strength and courage.

[Meekness] is never a false modesty, a self-depreciation, or a spineless refusal to stand for anything. [It] is never a cowardly retreat from reality, which substitutes a passive selfishness for real gentleness and avoids trouble in ways that allow even greater trouble to develop. Neither is it a false humility that refuses to recognize God has given us talents and abilities or that refuses to use them for His glory. http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/top/fruit8_gentleness.cfm

Meekness can be illustrated powerfully by a strong animal under control. One looking at the picture posted here can not help but realize that the oxen, through sheer brute force, could refuse to pull the load, but instead of using its strength to wreak havoc, it uses it to get the job done.

The beauty of strength under control leads perfectly into the last point. Suppose the oxen were being treated poorly by the person owning the ox cart. Sometimes meekness conjures up the idea of someone who is a doormat. Aristotle used the example of a powerful animal to accentuate an accurate definition of meekness as halfway between excessive anger and indifference. That is, he felt the truly meek person could be angry at the right time and submissive at the right time. It is not allowing yourself to become a doormat. It is part of God’s character as He moves triumphantly in mighty power and victory. Psalm 45:3-4

“Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty. And in thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth and gentleness and righteousness”

St John of the cross says that the sin of wrath includes those who become angry with themselves. These are those who don’t accomplish as much as they think they ought to accomplish for Christ. They purpose great plans and make many grand resolutions, but they see little fruit because they lack humility and patience. God will give what He pleases. One who can get through the dark night of the soul so that the sin of wrath is purged will find that the yoke of the Master has taken it’s place.

Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.          Matt. 11:29-30

Yearning to be yoked,



8 comments on “Dumb as an ox?

  1. Thanks much for that link. At some point I need to look at The Dark Night of the Soul to get a better sense of it. Sometimes it seems to focus so much on the self which it says we shouldn’t be focused on (mostly things mentioned in previous posts) that I haven’t even felt free to comment. If I focus too much on my soul instead of Christ, I inevitably end up in a dark night!! We need to assess and confess, then repent genuine sin, but the introspection can maybe get a little out of balance?… But I may have this all wrong. Gotta look at just what St. John of the Cross is saying, I guess.

    Speaking of focus, the explanation of praetes (Greek “meekness”) that best gets through to the heart of its biblical meaning for me says (in Strong’s Expanded Dictionary) “it consists not in a person’s ‘outward’ behavior only; nor yet in his relations to his fellow-men; [or] in his mere natural disposition. Rather it is an inwrought grace of the soul… It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting… also such in the face of men, even evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect.”

    What especially strikes me about this, though, is that the Bible gives one outstanding example of this meekness/humility in each of the Testaments: Moses in the Old, and Jesus in the New. Yet Moses crashed down those tablets in anger and Jesus threw over tables and drove people out of the temple with a whip of cords, and about Him is said, “Zeal for Your house has eaten me up.” Interesting.

    • Dear Sylvia,

      It is that temper of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting…

      I do indeed get this line, but it trips me up, too, because I do not have the wisdom to know the difference between the things I can’t change and the things I can. If there is something evil that I think I can’t change what do I do? Do I just walk away?

      These are my issues. Jesus knew when a display of anger (zeal for His house) was in order. My prayer must be for wisdom.

      Thanks for commenting, Sylvia.

      • Don’t know if this will help, but here’s how Husband has helped me: He asks, “Tell me what you *know*…” (about _____? — whatever’s tangling my mind. It might be some theological debatable, or, recently, with many ministry doors closed, what God wants me to do (or not) with my life.) He means, what do you know without a doubt?

        Sometimes I start off with, “I don’t know if I know anything!” But after I settle, I go straight to the basics: Like. “Well, I *know* there is a Creator…” “And I *know* He intervened amazingly in my life, many times…” etc. As for “what do I *know* I should I do?” basic Bible truth told me God wants me to pray, give, encourage, and…” And Micah 6:8! That’s been a biggie for me recently, and might be for you right now.

        It’s funny how going back to Truth’s bare bones gets me finally on course by giving me first, obvious, steps. I get *focused* on certainty instead of confusion. And the rest seems to settle into place. One foot follows the other.

        I don’t know if this makes any sense, but it does help me. Hope it gives you some little light beam, too.

        You are in a difficult time. God will give you the wisdom you pray for. As He promises. And I will (continue to) add my prayers to yours. May you have a restful and restorative weekend!

      • Yesterday two dear “I can touch ’em” friends (as opposed to cyber-friends) spent time with me. Both listened to my concerns at length (I pitied them) and said, “Tell me more?” and “Did that really happen?” in the right places so that I could dig deeper into the foggy places. Both were coming from totally different places. One was where I was about 6 months ago–trying to make the best of a terrible situation and needing to know what pitfalls to avoid and what signs she should watch out for. The other has a severe disability (almost blind) so there is no way she will be let go from the system or the American Disabilities Act people will be on them big time so she coaches me. Both are incredibly intelligent so they connect the dots I am unable to connect real fast.

        I see so much more clearly after they debriefed my encounters. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they have proven themselves untrustworthy (your 5-minute Friday on trust was interesting on not trusting a friend) and these two help me see the possibility of a facade.

        Anyway, knowing what you KNOW is a good strategy. Thanking Him for all things makes the soul take inventory. That is good. Reminding myself of Who He is sweeps the doubt away,

        I’m glad you came back here,

  2. Dawn, this post is simply beautiful. I loved the definition that meekness is between excessive anger and indifference. May God grant us meekness that we may be pure in heart. God bless you. Thanks for mentioning me in the post.

  3. Mike,

    Thank YOU for the online address for the book. What a gift!

    I also appreciate your appreciation of this series. It has been very meaningful for me and when others join in the discussion, I love it. Thanks, too, for being here. I’m going over to the third day of Jonah now!


  4. “If one becomes irritated at the sins of others and “keeps watch on others with a kind of uneasy zeal” and the impulse becomes so great that they reprove them angrily, this wrath needs to be purged. What the Lord wants is meekness.”

    I love how you explained this so thoroughly, about meekness,… such beauty there. It makes the heart glad for the holiness…the pureness in heart!

    Indeed may the yoke of the Master take it’s place in my life.
    Yearning also to remain yolked with the One!

  5. Dear Susan,

    That is a direct quote from the translation of the book. The book was originally in Spanish, I think. Perhaps you could read it without translation! The book so speaks to me. I am so happy both A and Cora, two women I greatly respect through these discussions, recommended it. They were the voice of God to me.

    I love that you are chewing through this with me,

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