Encouragement from Sibbes

Encouragement from Sibbes

It’s good to be back and to see all of you. Looking forward to seeing folks as they get back from vacations. Please continue to pray for Namhui and for Shiv. Namhui is, as I understand it, in labor as I write this on Friday morning.

A note from Jon Langdon and the deacons: “The deacons have shared a couple of opportunities to serve this weekend and could still use some help. If you have some time Saturday to help a sister move or to prep a house for painting, e-mail deacons@cpcissaquah.org. Also, please mark that as a trusted e-mail address so mail from the deacons doesn’t end up in your junk folder. Thank you!”

Recently I came across my notes from The Bruised Reed, a remarkable work by English Puritan Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), which uses God’s tenderness in Isaiah 42:3 as a springboard for reflection. Here are some of the moments on which I made notes.

Early on Sibbes says the deepest bruising is in “them that are brought to see their sin.” And though it is God who brings this awakening, the moment becomes “a duty to be performed by us.” So he says, “we must join with God in bruising ourselves. When he humbles us, let us humble ourselves, and not stand out against him, for then he will redouble his strokes; let us justify Christ in all his chastisements.

But on that same page (this is page 47 in my old Banner of Truth hardcover), he says famously, “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.” This is probably the most well-known quote in the book and is typical of the way in which the Puritans saw both the high calling in Christ and the bottomless love and mercy of Christ.

With joy and insight, Sibbes also says of Christ that God “loveth him and us with one love,” by which he means that just as the Father’s love rests on Christ, with whom he is well pleased, he is equally well-pleased with us if we are in Christ. That’s one of the strongest and most encouraging statements of union with Christ you’ll ever get.

Another encouraging thing Sibbes says is “God values us by what we shall be…just as we call a little plant a ‘tree’ because it will one day grow to be so.” You can hear this in Scripture’s speaking of believers as “saints” (literally “holy ones”), and “faithful” and so on. Often we are neither holy nor faithful, yet one day we shall be perfectly so. God speaks to us as we shall one day be.

And one last quote: “A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child, as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter to love of that which is his own in us. He sees his own nature in us: we are diseased, and yet belong to him. Who ever neglected his own people because they were sick or diseased? Let us therefore abhor all suspicious thoughts” (by which he means doubts of God’s enduring commitment to us).

Be encouraged. God is yours and you are his.