If you’re discouraged with yourself…

~ Thoughts from The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes
8. Duties and Discouragement
9. Believe Christ, not Satan

Do it or not?

It’s a good thing.
But you don’t feel like doing it.
Your heart’s not fully in it.

So you don’t do it at all?
Or you do it anyway?

Richard Sibbes says that’s easy to answer: Do it anyway. 

Because if you don’t do it, corruption gains ground.

But if you do do it, God will strengthen you as you go.

God often delights to take advantage of our averseness, that he may manifest his work the more clearly, and that all the glory of the work may be his, as all the strength is his.

Obedience is most direct when there a nothing else to sweeten the action.

If you don’t do it, you might be more obstructed from doing it in the future.
If you do do it, you may experience God’s presence in a way you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Feeling and freeness of spirit are often reserved until duty is discharged.

Reward follows work.

In and after duty we find that experience of God's presence which, without obedience, we may long wait for, and yet go without.

But what if the spirit is willing but the body is weak?

Use the down time for preparation for later when the body is not weak. “Whetting a tool does not hinder, but prepares.” Use the time to “calm the soul and put the strings in tune.”

Where does discouragement come from?discourage

  • Not from the Father. He has covenanted himself to pity us as a father pities his children (Psa 103:13).
  • Not from Christ, for he trades his strength for our weakness, his grace for our sins.
  • Not from the Spirit. He is the Comforter (John 14:16). Even when he convicts you of sin to humble you, “it is that he may make way for his office of comforting” you.

If you’re discouraged with yourself, then it comes from you and from Satan, who “labors to fasten on you a loathing of duty.”

Your impatience with timing often brings on discouragement. Wait on his timing; you’ve got nothing to lose.

But if God brings us into the trial he will be with us in the trial, and at length bring us out, more refined.

We shall lose nothing but dross (Zech. 13:9).

Discouragement also comes from overactive consciences, from diseases of the body, and from “some remainder of ignorance, which, like darkness, breeds fears—ignorance especially of this merciful disposition in Christ, the persuasion of which would easily banish false fears.”

So remember these truths…

The Lord has entered a covenant of grace with you, and your weaknesses will not break covenant with God. They won’t debar you from mercy.

God numbers your tears and groans, and he keeps a throne of mercy at your bedside, even when he doesn’t remove your thorns. “Christ counts it his honor to pass by many infirmities, nay, in infirmities he perfects his strength.”

So continue to desire what you should be.

What we desire to be we shall be, and what we desire truly to conquer we shall conquer, for God will fulfill the desire of them that fear him (Psa. 145:19).

The desire is an earnest of the thing desired. How little encouragement will carry us to the affairs of this life!

You are only poor if you do not recognize your riches in Christ. “In time of temptation, believe Christ rather than the devil. Believe truth from truth itself. Hearken not to a liar, an enemy and a murderer.”

When Christ seems to be an enemy, when doubts assail you, when you find yourself resisting Christ’s mercy, know that you can “never be in such a condition that there will be just cause of utter despair. Therefore let us do as mariners do, cast anchor in the dark. Christ knows how to pity us in this case.”

We are weak, but we are his; we are deformed, but yet carry his image upon us.

A father looks not so much at the blemishes of his child as at his own nature in him; so Christ finds matter of love from that which is his own in us.

* * *

Do you easily become discouraged with yourself?
How do you counter the discouragement?

COMING NEXT:
10. Quench not the Spirit
11. Christ’s judgment and victory

This is Week 5 for Tim Challie’s group “Reading Classics Together.”
Download The Bruised Reed free online from Monergism.com, or grab a hardcopy, and read along with us.

Comments from reading group
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4 comments:

Becky@ Daily On My Way To Heaven said...

Lisa, thank you again!

I love the way you sumarize Sibbes'teachings.

This phrase, "We are weak, but we are his; we are deformed, but yet carry his image upon us", isn't it marvelous? I want to treasure it and not let it go!

Happy to be reading alongside with you!

Liz said...

Lisa, I'm so far behind on my reading The Bruised Reed. At least I'm getting some of your insights until I can catch up.

I have been in process of learning this truth in the last month or so. I've pushed myself to do the things I don't feel like doing in ministry, and when I ask God for the will and strength to do it when I have none, He always answers. Always. I am learning that when I'm weak, He is strong. There's such a satisfaction and joy in knowing when I did something fully in His grace.

elizabeth said...

Oh this is so, so good! I will be sharing it with others!

Audrey said...

Lisa, once again I have benefitted from reading your post today! I'm one of those people who struggles with discouragement from an overactive conscience. Each day I have to tell myself to take the next step and trust in Christ. Like Sibbs says, "casting anchor in the dark."
Thanks for sharing your heart!

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