We Are Debtors to the Weak

One of the unexpected blessings of being called to a new ministry and moving from Wisconsin to Ohio has been the process of unpacking and reorganizing my library. In doing so, I’ve found a couple boxes of books that I’ve read in the past few years, but have not had time to process (I do so by filing quotes, digitally, and blogging on highlighted portions that spoke to my heart). This morning, my eyes caught sight of Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed, which contained a neon-colored post-it note with “Blog” written on it. Therefore, this week, I plan to post some thoughts from this Puritan’s small work on the tenderness of Christ toward the weak. Indeed, He is the Savior who does not break those who are already bruised.

Today’s comes from the fifth chapter, “The Spirit of Mercy Should Move Us.” In this chapter, the author mainly addresses preachers and their need to deal with new believers with great patience and tenderness. However, at the close of the chapter is a small portion addressed to all believers in which we are called to show great grace and mercy  toward those who are weaker. Here’s the counsel Sibbes gives to us.

“[T]here is something for private Christians [as opposed to public preachers], even for all of us in our common relations, to take notice of: we are debtors to the weak in many things.

  1. Let us be watchful in the use of our liberty, and labour to be inoffensive in our behavior, that our example compel them not. There is a commanding force in an example, as there was in Peter (Gal. 2). Looseness of life is cruelty to ourselves and to the souls of others. Though we cannot keep those who will perish from perishing, yet if we do that which is apt of itself to destroy the souls of others their ruin is imputable to us.”
  2. Let men take heed of taking up Satan’s office, in misrepresenting the good actions of others, as he did Job’s case, ‘Doth Job fear God for nought?’ (Job 1:9), or slandering their persons, judging of them according to the wickedness that is in their own hearts. The devil gets more by such discouragements and reproaches that are cast upon religion than by fire and faggot [Old English word meaning a bundle of branches used for fuel, as in when believers were burned at the stake].
  3. Among the things that are taken heed of, there is among ordinary Christians a bold usurpation of censure toward others, not considering their temptations. Some will unchurch and unbrother in a passion.”

“A holy aim in things neither clearly right nor wrong makes the judgments of men, although seemingly contrary, yet not so much blameable. Christ, for the good aims he sees in us, overlooks any ill in them, so far as not to lay it to our charge. Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them…”

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