(Continuing with more from Matthew Henry’s The Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit.)
“In a word, quietness of spirit is the soul’s stillness and silence from intending provocation to, or resenting provocation from, any with whom we have to do.”
That’s a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say? In order to keep our mouths shut when we want to tick someone off or when someone ticks us off, we must practice, practice, practice. And of course it is the Spirit who by His grace fills us with the means to exercise authority over our own hearts and mouths.
By practice I mean that we have a lookout for all those daily provocations we habitually react to with anger or peevishness, cool silence or other displays of annoyance. Others no doubt see us reacting this way. Practice means that we ask the Holy Spirit to open our own eyes to these things so we can see what we need to change. Change doesn’t come naturally or easily, but it won’t come at all unless we set ourselves to be on guard against all those things that disquiet us.
Henry uses these examples of quietness: when the air is quiet from wind, when the sea is quiet from waves, when the land is quiet from war, when a weaned child is quiet from fussing.
If you’ve ever seen a lake in the early morning that is still as glass, that is what quietness of spirit looks like. No ripples, no waves, no froth, no foam. When our hearts are quiet, they are not churned up by taking offense at others nor by dishing it out. Quiet spirits are not worried and anxious because they are submitted to God’s wise providence over all things.
Quietness is a real creature-comfort, because we can’t enjoy the outward comforts we have if our spirits are all disjointed with anger or bitterness or worry.
“The conquest of an unruly passion is more honorable than that of an unruly people, for it requires more true conduct. It is easier to kill an enemy without, which may be done at a blow, than to chain up and govern an enemy within, which requires a constant, even, steady hand, and a long and regular management.”
In other words, “Go,fight, win!” Rather than being at war with others around you, set yourself to fight and conquer your own tendency to anger. God has given us the means to do this in Christ.