Jesus said to his disciples:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them. – Matthew 7.15
It is easy and normal to interpret this passage as referring to other people. Yet it is useful to also recognize the truth of this as a diagnostic description of our own psychology: our falseness, our multiplicity, our inner lack of harmony. We are reminded that there are aspects of our self that appear to be “sheep”, but inwardly are “wolves,” or at least have the potential to snarl and flash fangs from time to time.
The fangs, so to speak, are the human passions such as anger, wrath, lust, gluttony, criticism, slander, envy, greed, etc., and are all expressions and “fruits” of this inner wolf-ness. The falseness comes from not acknowledging the wolf is there within, and pretending we are innocent and free of such dynamics.
It is most important that we realize that, ultimately, the wolf within isn’t real. It is not our deepest truth. Our deepest truth is that we are created in the image of God – and that we are also all invited to participate in the process of restoring the likeness of God.
By these wolf-behaviors and wolf-expressions, we get to know our self more clearly and honestly. Don’t despair when they occur or appear. Rejoice that you have the capacity to see and notice them – for much of the freeing from them comes from first seeing them. Silence and stillness both help us to see inwardly more clearly, and confession is a helpful part of the process, relationaly.
In a phrase: know thyself, and tell on thyself – with a lightness of spirit in a safe context.
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