Books can do many things…Books can entertain, provoke, and educate us. For me, the true measure of a book is in its ability to promote change in my life. Respectable Sins, written by Jerry Bridges, is one of those rare finds. Having just finished reading Respectable Sins, Beyond Opinion (Ravi Zacharias), and The Shaping Of Things To Come (Hirsch/Frost), Bridges’ book captivated me through his ability to shine a light on sins that I had largely ceased attempting to mortify.
The title, Respectable Sins, has a ‘tongue in cheek’ ring to it. There is nothing ‘respectable’ about the sins identified in Bridges book. Appropriately then, the book’s subtitle captures the author’s goal: Confronting The Sins We Tolerate.
I lament to confess that it is true in my life. To a large degree, I have spent much of my energy averting the ‘big sins’, actions which would call into question my integrity as a Christian and as a minister of the Gospel. Bridges’ book prompts a more thorough inspection of both our habits and that which motivates our behaviours.
Bridges masterfully connects biblical exhortations with everyday circumstances and human tendencies and, with a most humble tone, challenges us to give due attention to a myriad of sins which have become largely tolerated, if not altogether accepted, in many Christian communities.
Some examples from his book: anxiety, discontentment, pride, irritability, envy, and gossip.
Bridges’ book felt like surgery for my soul. With each chapter I felt the sting of conviction as Bridges brought to the surface attitudes and behaviours that were dishonouring to God and yet still very present in my life. Thankfully, surgery does not bring pain for pain’s sake. Surgery’s aim is to promote a healing transformation. Mercifully, this was my experience as I read Respectable Sins. Rather than despair at the reminder of what remains deficient in regard to my daily conduct, Bridges reminded me of the Divine resources available–resources designed to gradually mortify these inappropriate ways and make me live increasingly more like my Saviour.
To some, reading a book about sin might seem morbid. I, too, prefer to focus on what is positive, rather than what is negative. At first, my mind goes to what Paul told the Philippians, “forget what lies behind and strain towards what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). One might read that verse and think, ‘Never mind what I’ve been like. Thinking about all this sin is going to distract me from getting on in the journey towards Christ-likeness.’
Not at all.
Perhaps picking up on Paul’s metaphor of the race, the author of Hebrews exhorts us more specifically: “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Jerry Bridges’ Respectable Sins is one of the most balanced, biblical, and humbly delivered resources that I can recommend to a follower of Christ who is serious about making progress in “the race marked out for us”.
If you have read this book, I’d love to have you add your feedback to the Comments section.