Posts Tagged ‘Respectable Sins’

Respectable Sins: Where do we go from here?

In the final chapter of Respectable Sins, Bridges asks the question that forms the chapter title:  where do we go from here? I’ll use this as an opportunity to reflect (as Bridges does) on the book overall:

  • Bridges is a spirtiual-masochist (I made that up, I think):  “At times, this may have been painful.  I hope it has, because that means you have been honest enough and humble enough to admit the presence of some of these sins in your own life” (177).  But this is so very important for our growth as Christians, especially as most of us make pain (of any kind) avoidance a hobby and a hallmark of American Christianity.
  • Bridges has done a great service to the Church in bring these “respectable sins” to light and helping us see the need to repent of these sins.   Repentance of such sins will help us both in our followship of Christ and in our attractive to non-followers.
  • I appreciate the emphasis in the book on the following:  the daily need of the Gospel in our lives, the power of the knowledge (of the kind that moves toward action) of the Sovereignty of God, the use of Scripture to promote repentance and holiness, and the emphasis on humility.
  • This is a book worth keeping handy as a resource and a help for specific areas of sin, personally or corporately.  We are also going to use it (along with the study guide) in a Sunday School class.
  • I do not have many criticisms of the book and any are minor.  I did feel like the chapter on worldliness was one of the weaker chapters and much of the material could have been dealt with otherwise.  That said, there were still some good thoughts therein.  My friend, Ken, post his thoughts on the book here and would recommend a reordering of chapters and I know others who found the first section of six chapters to be a bit laborious (my words).  I agree in a sense, but I also think those chapters are incredibly important and foundational and glad that Bridges included them.  I wonder do if the same material could have been compressed a little.  I like Ken’s suggestion to move some of those chapters (e.g. Directions for Dealing with Sins) to the end of the book.  Still, Ken and I would both say this criticism is minor and even editorial.
  • Finally, I would highly recommend this book for any individual or for group study desiring to grow in relationship with Christ.  I am glad I decided to “steal” (an unrespectable sin for sure) the idea of “blogging” this book from Ken & Joel!

Respectable Sins: Worldliness

Alas, we have come to chapter 20 and the last of the respectable sins from the aptly named book by Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins.  In this final chapter, Bridges addresses the sin of worldliness and a few of its manifestations.  First, however, it is important to define terms – especially one as broad and possibly misused at “worldliness”.  It’s a very easy term for Christians to label other Christians, but we should want better than a simple label.  So, Bridges provides this two part definition: “being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life [authors emphasis]worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice, but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not those values, mores, and practices are biblical” (166).

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Respectable Sins: Sins of the Tongue

I just can’t read more than a chapter of Jerry Bridges’ book, Respectable Sins, at a time anymore.  Chapter 19 is by far the shortest chapter in this book, but once again it carries a powerful punch.  In this chapter, Bridges addresses the sins of the tongue and he is not just talking about gossip.  The sins of the tongue also include:

  • lying
  • slander
  • critical speech (even when true)
  • harsh words
  • insults
  • sarcasm
  • ridicule

While there are many verses in the Bible that address the sins of our tongue (e.g. James 3), Bridges has found Ephesians 4:29 to be the most helpful/convicting:  “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  This leads to a question for us to ponder as we consider the words that we use, whether in the context of gossip (as Bridges introduces it) or modified otherwise:  “Will what I’m about to say tend to tear down or build up the person I’m about to talk about?” (authors emphasis).  This is a good question, if we will stop long enough to think and not just speak. We might also ask, along with Bridges, other questions about our words:  “Is it kind?” and “Is it needful?”.

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Respectable Sins: Judgmentalism

“We equate our opinions with truth.” (Bridges, 141)

Well isn’t that why we blog? After all, I can’t help it if I’m right!

Actually, this very notion of judgmentalism, which Jerry Bridges writes about in chapter 17 of Respectable Sins, is one of the reasons that I was hesitant to start this blog – for fear of revealing my own heart judgments in a way that is dishonoring to God, not edifying to the church, nor attractive to non-Christians. Hopefully, I have not stumbled in this regard, but would I know?

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Respectable Sins: Weeds of Anger

When Bridges talks about the weeds of anger, he is referring to the long term results of anger. And though we often think of anger as something that may come and go and just a part of life, there is no mistaking the Biblical stance on anger (hint: it’s not very favorable to anger). Here are the “weeds of anger”:

  • Resentment: this anger that is held on to…”Resentment may be more difficult to deal with than outwardly expressed anger because the person often continues to nurse his wounds and dwell on his ill-treatment” (130).
  • Bitterness
  • Enmity and hostility
  • Grudge: this is more serious than merely holding a grudge against someone in some innocuous way as Bridges is using the Biblical definition. The word then is associated with taking revenge on the object of the grudge.
  • Strife: there certainly has been no shortage of strife in Christ’s Church through the years. Continue reading

Respectable Sins: Anger

I don’t get angry, I get even. Okay, not really.

In chapters, fifteen and sixteen of Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges addresses the topic of anger. He states at the end of chapter sixteen that his goal has been to “help us face the fact that much, if not most, of our anger is sinful, even though it may arise from the sinful actions of others” (139). He is not attempting an exhaustive treatment of this complex issue, but does want us to see how and where tolerate the sin of anger in our lives. Along these same lines, Bridges offers a very strong reminder (not unlike in the most recent chapters) that our anger is not the fault of others, even though we may have been seriously injured or sinned against, but is a result of our own fallen flesh. Finally, by way of introduction, Bridges doesn’t allow us to use the notion of “righteous anger” to hide behind. If we are honest, we are rarely righteously angry, especially when it involves our relationships with those we are most closely related to (family, friends, fellow church members, co-workers, etc…). Bridges says his focus is on “ordinary anger”.

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Respectable Sins: Impatience and Irritability

Okay admit it:  you were impatient with my late posting of my reflections on chapter 14 from Respectable Sins. Well, maybe not.

Impatience and Irritability are the topics of this chapter and this topic hit home for me again.  Impatience is defined “as a strong sense of annoyance at the (usually) unintentional faults and failures of others” (116).  And irritability “describes the frequency of impatience, or the ease which a person can becomes impatient over the slightest provocation” (118).  I must confess, even right after (I mean within minutes) reading this chapter I found myself expressing impatience with my son’s slowness to pick a book from the library and with a driver in front of me on the way home.  And these were two areas that Bridges used as illustrations!  This is one reason I don’t sport any kind of Christian symbolism on my car – I don’t my impatient driving identified with Christ.  And yet, Bridges reminds us through Scripture that patience is a virtue to be cultivated.

Also, he reminds us that other people (our children, our spouse, the poor or slow driver in front of us, etc…) is not our problem.  They are not the cause of our impatience.  “They merely provide an opportunity for the flesh to assert itself.  The actual cause of our impatience lies within our hearts, in our own attitude of insisting that others around us conform to our expectations” (117).  This to me may be more important for us to learn than anything else, except for the Scriptural teaching on patience/impatience.  I need to see myself as the problem, not someone else.  This is the challenge we face as we consider our own impatience and irritability – we are always focused on how we have been “wronged” by another.

If you really want to know then do as Bridges encourages:  ask a spouse, an older child, or a friend to help you identify areas of impatience in your life.  Just don’t get angry when they tell you the truth (that’s covered in the next chapter).