Curiosity Kills Your Soul

 

By Matthew Wireman

“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, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak” (Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed, 33).

I have been reading Sibbes’ work on the mercy of Christ toward us. The book is an extended meditation on Isaiah 42.1-3. I have been reading it in my personal devotions, and I have been reminded by Christ’s persevering patience with me. How often have I been a smoking flax–a reed that does not give off heat nor light–yet the Lord does not view such paltry devotion as condemnable. Rather, he condescends and fans into flame that smoldering wick so that I can enjoy him more. What may seem like an endless cycle of failed attempts, he views the good.

Sibbes, here, challenges us to reflect the same merciful inclination in our dealings with others. How quick am I to write off someone who rubs me the wrong way. How sure I am that this person is weak in faith and in need of rebuke. How dead set on dealing out justice am I that I cannot see God’s mercy on display in my brother.

I am a curious fellow. Yet, Sibbes challenges the assumption that curiosity–the need to know the intricacies of someone’s sin or weaknesses–is not altogether noble. Rather, curiosity bends toward an inclination to judging again the one whom God has pronounced “not guilty” in his tribunal. The need to gather all pertinent information stems from a desire to sit in the dock and pronounce on others what I would not dare they know or pronounce on me.

Our tendency should be towards wanting to see the good in others, not digging up graves that have been long-sealed when this brother put his faith in the Christ.

“What about leaders?” someone may ask. “Aren’t they held to a different standard?” Surely the pastor will be held to a stricter judgment, that’s why he shouldn’t be too quick to assume the office (James 3.1). Yet, the judgment James speaks about is the Final Judgment performed by the Triune God. This is not an earthly tribunal, nor is it an ad hoc court set up in the figment of our own minds. Rather, God pleads with us to exercise judgment with mercy (James 2.13).

Surely, a leader who sins repeatedly must be rebuked. A leader who is unrepentant must be ousted. But the leader who sins, and seeks forgiveness, should be forgiven. We should not exact perfection, nor should we use a canon distinct from our own lives.

I fear that those who so quickly give in to curiosity will find that the proclivity toward mercy will show that they had not received mercy. Those who so quickly write off Scripture’s admonition to cover over sin with love will grope for this kindness and find it wanting toward them.

May we be quick to forgive and slow to condemn. May we entrust right judgment to God. And as we find ourselves in the already-not yet, may we admonish the unrepentant. As we live in the time between the times, may we proactively and persistently give mercy. A mercy that is imperfect, but perpetual. To the degree that we have received mercy, may we give such beautiful and resplendent mercy.

Lord Over All – Defined

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Here is the definition from this past Sunday’s message on God‘s Sovereignty as apart of our “How Great Thou Art” series on the attributes of God

SOVEREIGNTY

Sovereignty is the supreme authority of God, his absolute right to rule over creation. He is not subject to any power or law outside of himself.

God has planned, has a purpose for, and is in complete control of every aspect of His creation, both good and bad, including our individual lives. He does this in such a way that He never authors or approves of sin or relieves man of his responsibility by violating his will. He does all for His glory and all He does in relation to those whom He chooses and loves is for their good.

Refusing sin promises by relying on gospel promises

By Jeremy Oddy

The content below in the table is from Jonathan Dodson’s excellent book,Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

Sin Issues
Contrasts
Scripture
Sin Promises
Gospel Promises
Sexual Lust: The Fight for True Intimacy Instead of trusting sexual lust for intimacy, trust God for true intimacy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matt. 5:8). Long for what you cannot have and you will be happy. Rejoice in what you do have, in Jesus, and you will be truly happy.
Vanity: The Fight for True Worth Instead of relying on vanity for worth, consider the beauty of God. What we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). Perform beautifully and you will have worth. Jesus performed beautifully for you; therefore, you have never-ending worth.
Pride: The Fight for True Confidence Instead of trusting in compliments for confidence, believe that your sufficiency comes from God. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient (2 Cor. 3:4-6). Find and cherish compliments and then you will be confident. Your confidence comes, not from your sufficiency, but from God who has made you sufficient in Jesus.
Anger: The Fight for God’s Way Instead of getting angry to get your way (protesting not getting you way), put your trust in the Lord’s way. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord (Ps. 4:4-5). If I control my circumstances (and I have a right to) then I will get the best outcome.  If I can’t control my circumstances, then I have a right to get mad. Because Jesus is Lord, he has the right to control my circumstances.  Therefore, I will get the best outcome by trusting him. Put your trust in the Lord, not in controlling your circumstances.

8 Things Contentment Opposes

Jeremiah Burroughs (c1600-1646), one of the Fi...

Jeremiah Burroughs (c1600-1646), one of the Five Dissenting Brethren who supported the Independent position at the Westminster Assembly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jeremiah Burrough’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is one of the most important and personally-impactful Puritan works I’ve ever read. Let me give you just a taste of what Burroughs has to say about contentment. Here he shares eight things that will be opposed by a true, biblical contentment.

  1. It is opposed to murmuring and repining at the hand of God, as the discontented Israelites often did. If we cannot bear this either in our children or servants, much less can God bear it in us.
  2. To vexing and fretting, which is a degree beyond murmuring.
  3. To tumultuousness of spirit, when the thoughts run distractingly and work in a confused manner, so that the affections are like the unruly multitude in the Acts, who did not know for what purpose they had come together. The Lord expects you to be silent under His rod, and, as was said in Acts 19:36, “Ye ought to be quiet and to do nothing rashly.”
  4. It is opposed to an unsettled and unstable spirit, whereby the heart is distracted from the present duty that God requires in our several relationships—towards God, others, and ourselves. We should prize duty more highly than to be distracted by every trivial occasion.
  5. It is opposed to distracting, heart-consuming cares. A gracious heart so esteems its union with Christ and the work that God sets it about that it will not willingly suffer anything to come in to choke it or deaden it. A Christian is desirous that the Word of God should take such full possession as to divide between soul and spirit (Heb 4:12), but he would not allow the fear and noise of evil tidings to take such a hold in his soul as to make a division and struggling there, like the twins in Rebekah’s womb (Gen 25:22).
  6. It is opposed to sinking discouragements. God would have us to depend on Him though we do not see how the thing may be brought about; otherwise, we do not show a quiet spirit.
  7. It is opposed to sinful shiftings and shirkings to get relief and help. Thus do many, through the corruption of their hearts and the weakness of their faith, because they are not able to trust God and follow Him fully in all things and always. For this reason, the Lord often follows the saints with many sore temporal crosses as we see in the case of Jacob, though they obtain the mercy. It may be that your carnal heart thinks, “I do not care how I am delivered, if only I may be freed from it.” Your hearts are far from being quiet!
  8. The last thing that quietness of spirit is the opposite of is desperate risings of the heart against God by way of rebellion. That is the most abominable. They find in their hearts something of a rising against God. Their thoughts begin to bubble, and their affections begin to move in rebellion against God Himself. This is especially the case with those, who besides their corruptions, have a large measure of melancholy. The devil works both upon the corruptions of their hearts and the melancholy disease of their bodies.

Now Christian quietness is opposed to all these things. When affliction comes, whatever it is, you do not murmur or repine, you do not fret or vex yourself.

The joy of repenting: forsaking sin and embracing Christ!

I’ve been reading an excellent book by Jonathan Dodson titled, Gospel-Centered Discipleship. I’ve enjoyed the book immensely thus far. In his excellent chapter, “Gospel Motivation: The Center of Discipleship,” Dodson writes about the gift of repentance. Below, I gathered a few notable and worthy quotes that could help us have a renewed and fresh sense of turning from sin and turning to Christ on a daily, if not, moment by moment basis.

Repentance is not a one-time act to get us into heaven, but an entire way of life to maintain Christian joy…True repentance includes faith. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same gospel coin, one movement made possible by grace…We turn from our sinful behaviors and turn, not to good behaviors, but to Christ. We turn from trust in little gods to trust in the one true God. It is turning from belief in a false promise in order to turn in faith to a true, satisfying promise. Repentance is an exchange of joys, the lesser for the greater…Repentance is a gift from God that compels us to turn away from the fleeting promises of sin and turn to the enduring promises of the gospel…Repenting is for rejoicing! The intoxicating joy of the Lord exposes our lesser joys for what they are – false and empty – and leads us to faith in the true and rewarding promises of God. A gospel-centered disciple rejects the pursuit of perfection and embraces the gift of repentance (pp. 83-85).