Confession: I have a really bad habit. I read about two thirds of a book and then set it aside/forget about it and start another book, usually only to read two thirds of it and start ANOTHER book. I started this book almost exactly a year ago and finished it today.
So today I picked up Respectable Sins and burned through the last 40 pages. The whole book was convicting, but I think maybe my so-called respectable sins particular resonated in the last few chapters. Here are some things I gleaned:
Chapter 16~The Weeds of Anger
Bridges used the parable of the unforgiving servant from Matthew 18 to illustrate how our debt to God is "utterly unpayable." In today's money, the king forgave his servant 6-8 billion dollars and the servant was unable to forgive approximately $15,000. That's like God forgiving us all of our sins and we can't forgive our fellow brother a sin against us. "We are to forgive because we have been forgiven so much." A brother's sin against us is utterly insignificant compared to our sin against God.
Bridges called this one of the most subtle of the respectable sins "because it is often practiced under the guise of being zealous for what is right." We have to be careful about our convictions because often we elevate our strong feelings to biblical truth. According to Bridges, "the seriousness of of the sin of judgmentalism is not so much that I judge my brother as that in so doing I assume the role of God." Clearly, we need to condemn practices that are blatantly out of line with scripture, but we still need to be careful of our attitude, that we don't judge with a spirit of self-righteousness, harshness, or arrogance.
Bridges also warned against a critical spirit, someone who practices judgmentalism constantly and find fault with everything and everyone.
Chapter 18~Envy, Jealousy, and Related Sins
The last two sentences of the chapter really stood out to me: "Don't go through life harboring envy or jealousy or always having to win or get your way. Remember, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5). Don't place yourself in the position of being opposed by God."
Chapter 19~Sins of the Tongue
If I had to pick one chapter that was "my" respectable sin, it would probably be this one. I have problems with "outbursts of wrath" (especially with my immediate family) and often wish I could take back things I have said.
The verse Bridges kept going back to was Ephesians 4:29: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those that hear." NO corrupting talk. This means no gossip, sarcasm, critical speech, harsh words. "All of these sinful words that tend to tear down another person must be put out of our speech."
Sins of the tongue include:
Gossip~ "spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true." How often have we done this??
Slander~"making a false statement or misrepresentation about another person that defames or damages the person's reputation." Essentially, lying.
Critical speech~"negative comments about someone that may actually be true but doesn't need to be said."
"Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34)." So, the tongue isn't the problem, the heart is.
"The warning, then, [from scripture] is that though we use the legitimate things of the world, we should handle them with care lest they become too important to us."
Bridges: I define worldliness as being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life....Worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice, but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not those values, mores, and practices are biblical. Worldliness is just going along with the culture around us as long as that culture is not obviously sinful.
Chapter 21~Where Do We Go from Here?
Be honest and humble enough to admit that some of these sins apply to you.
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5)
"The apostle Paul wrote that it is Christ's love for us that constrains us to live for Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Such love for Him that will drive out our love for the world can only be a response to the deep, heartfelt sense of His love for us."
I think the above bold sentence is so key. "Christ's love for us." We can't keep from sin on our own no matter how hard we try.
I would highly recommend this book. I plan on keeping it on my shelf and rereading it every year or so. It is written in simple language that is easy to understand, and Bridges writes in such a humble way, detailing his own struggles with these sins. There may not be new information in this book, but he highlights many sins that we tend to think are acceptable, but Bridges always drives the point home that Christ died for each of our sins, even the ones we deem acceptable. They are not acceptable to Him.