I’ve been reading The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes, which is a good introduction to the Puritans if you’ve never read them.
Here is a quote and my reflections on it.
Christ came down from heaven and emptied himself of majesty in tender love to souls. Shall we not come down from our high conceits to do any poor soul good? Shall man be proud after God has been humble?
What is he getting at here? It’s about imitating Christ. Think on our Lord Jesus Christ who is the highest of the high emptying himself for lowly sinners like ourselves. Does he lord over us his majesty and power? Does he look down on us who are weak? No. He comes to us with compassion and tenderness. A bruised reed he will not break. (Isaiah 42:3) He comforts us and weeps with us. (John 11:35) And so we also should weep with others, coming down to their level.
Advancing in theological knowledge is fun and some of us love to learn the heavy doctrines and talk about them with those who are like-minded. All that is fine, but if that knowledge separates us from others’ struggles, causing us to look down on those who haven’t advanced as far as we have, what good is that knowledge? If you can explain the five solas but refuse to serve at the soup kitchen, what good is that?
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8 that knowledge puffs up but love builds up. It’s not that knowledge isn’t important. For Paul’s audience, he affirms the truth that idols are nothing and so the issue of eating or not eating meat sacrificed to them won’t commend us to God. But not all possess this knowledge. So don’t let the freedom you have received from this knowledge cause you to make your brother stumble. That is the most important thing in Paul’s mind. He concludes this way, “Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” 1 Corinthians 8:12-13
And this is Sibbes’ point as well. If Christ, who is highly exalted above all, stoops to the level of lowly sinners, shouldn’t we also come down to serve those who are the least among us?