Take care of your soul


“When we grow careless of keeping our souls, then God recovers our taste of good things again by sharp crosses.”
– Richard Sibbes

The curse of busyness

Dallas Willard spoke of the need to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. Only by doing that, he argued, could we truly alive.

I can relate.

Where is the margin to seriously examine ourselves before God?

I know I’m not alone.

The Puritan pastor Richard Sibbes noted, “When we grow careless of keeping our souls, then God recovers our taste of good things again by sharp crosses.”

In other words, God gets our attention when we wander from him.

Sibbes doesn’t present God as an angry cosmic parent who zaps us into obedience. Far from it.

God is loving Father who allows us to be brought back by the “sharp crosses” that naturally arise when we choose to sin and wander.

We Americans Christians are wandering in record number.

Watch your life and doctrine

I wonder if a major part of our current evangelical malaise derives from a chronic failure to tend to our souls, to follow the admonition of Saint Paul “watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Timothy 4:16).

The conjunction “and” reminds us that poor doctrine corrupts our lives and shrivels our souls, and that correct doctrine revive a dead soul.

Sadly we seem to have divorced discipleship and doctrine. In today’s Christian landscape it seems as though doctrine and holiness rarely meet.

Christians who emphasize spiritual formation tend to minimize the value of doctrinal orthodoxy.

Christians who affirm the need for doctrinal orthodoxy often fail to move beyond that into the realm of personal holiness.

Consider the Puritans

Sibbes and the English Puritan tradition carried on an extended experiment in lived orthodoxy.

While not perfect, they aimed to unite head and heart in a way that has seldom been rivaled outside of the divines of 19th Century American Presbyterianism.

If you’ve wondered what a faith looks like that loves deeply and thinks deeply take a look at writers like Sibbes and John Owen, like Thomas Watson and John Bunyan.

These writers are some of the ablest pastor-theologians of the English language–don’t fail to engage them.

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