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,