Happy Friday! Today I'm going to recommend not only a book, but also the author. Jerry Bridges has written several books that have profoundly impacted my faith. The first that I read was 'The Discipline of Grace: Our Role and God's Role in the Pursuit of Holiness.' Bridges' thoughts, in conjunction with the regular gospel preaching I was hearing at Christ the King in Cambridge, set me free. I had spent so much time trying to live up to some standard by doing the "right" Christian things. God really used those years up there in the Northeast to set me straight on the path He wanted for me. It still blows my mind how I was connected to the church for so long but kept missing the point, that we need Jesus every moment of our lives, not just at the moment of conversion to get us out of that sin problem, and that God loves me and wants to have a familial (not a business) relationship with me. It's a longer story than that - how dense and proud I am, how patient and gracious God is - but for now, I'll leave it at that so we can get on to talking about 'Respectable Sins.'
Yeah. So in this book, Bridges' decides to dig deep. It's embarrassing, painful, and challenging. But it is GOOD. This book is for those of us who are "good people": those of us who aren't necessarily struggling with substance abuse or addiction, who haven't murdered anyone or cheated on our spouse, who tell the truth (for the most part) and help the needy, who go to church every Sunday and maybe even sing in the choir. Yep, we're really pretty good, all told. Aren't we?
Bridges, however, reminds us Who holds the measuring stick and gets down and dirty digging into the "respectable sins" that we try to stuff down and hide away, because we really are pretty good people. Right? Here's where Bridges will take you if you jump into the pages of his book: ungodliness, anxiety and frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience and irritability, anger, judgmentalism, envy and jealousy, sins of the tongue, and worldliness. Sounds a lot like those lists of things Paul says we should "put away," doesn't it? Bridges challenges his readers to be honest about who they are and also to acknowledge the God who saves by clinging to the Gospel of life and confessing these ugly sins that seem so much more respectable than other terrible things we could be doing.
It has been a while since I read this book, but looking back over the table of contents, I love seeing that Bridges does not jump right away into "the sins," but rather spends several chapters taking about sin, the remedy for sin, the power of the Holy Spirit, and directions on how to deal with sin. Rereading the chapter titles makes me want to crack this book open again. If you're looking for a book that will stretch you this summer and challenge you to believe the Gospel more, you might want to crack this one open, too.
Have a good weekend, friends!