I’m really surprised by how short this chapter is. Sibbes doesn’t waste any words making a point; he gets right to it. This way of writing lends itself to producing one profound statement or phrase after another. I paused many times to really get it, to ponder where I see a truth manifested in my life (either in my past or present). This is how Sibbes ends the first chapter:
Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising. There must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who `was bruised for us’ (Isa. 53:5) that we may know how much we are bound unto him.
Ungodly spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken hearted Christians as miserable persons, whereas God is doing a gracious, good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.
It has been too long since I thanked God for the bruise. This reed was terribly bent in the wrong direction and has taken many bruisings. I’m sure I will need many more before all is said and done.
This season of my life alone is proving to be one of the most challenging physically, spiritually and emotionally. Just now, now that I’m forcing myself to take a good look, I can see several areas in which I’m resisting the bruise: propping myself up, moving forward (or in circles), cluttering life with activities in an effort to avoid what I want to avoid, refusing to accept what I don’t want to accept.
Whether the bruises come as a result of trial or temptation or weakness, it is so important that I remember a few things. First, the purpose behind the bruise is to conform me to Christ. Second, the force behind the bruising is always love. Third, I must keep my focus not on myself, but on Jesus, the one bruised for me. Finally, the bruise serves to increase my appreciation, though that’s probably not the best word to use, and devotion to Jesus.
Are you reading along as part of Challies’ Reading Classics Together project? Leave a comment or link so I can read your reaction to Chapter 1.