Open Thread: Your Thoughts on The Bruised Reed

* Note: I will do the random drawing for the winner of January’s giveaway tomorrow, and I will announce the winner Monday. If you do not have your name on the list, be sure to sign up by tomorrow by commenting on the introductory post!

As I shared in my introductory post to the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge, the goal behind the reading is precisely the goal of the Puritans, namely that it would be useful to your Christian life. No doctrine is without application, and no truth is not without uses. As the Puritans were passionate about not only rightly dividing God’s Word but also rightly applying it to their lives (i.e. “experimental” Christianity), so we too want to follow in that tradition of being doers and not hearers (or readers!) only.

The purpose of this post is to serve as an open thread for you to respond by sharing how The Bruised Reed has encouraged and ministered to you. More specifically, it would be great if you could answer the question,

“What use(s) will The Bruised Reed have in your personal relationship with Christ and/or your ministry in the future?”

In 500 words or less, please take a moment and exhale what you have inhaled for the past month. Let others hear what God has taught you, challenged you, helped you, or provoked you. Perhaps your words could be an encouragement and inspiration to others.

Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts!

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19 Comments on “Open Thread: Your Thoughts on The Bruised Reed”


  1. I have greatly enjoyed reading The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. What a tremendous man of God. His knowledge of the Scripture is immense and it shows as you read through this small tome.

    While reading this book I could feel the passion that the author had for living out the grace that God had bestowed upon him and was given a glimpse of the depths of the wells from which it sprang, then overflowed onto the pages as he inked each word in prayer. How he labored to share his heart in words plain and simple for the common man.

    The Banner of Truth Trust has done the church a tremendous service by printing this work. Would you dare to take a peek at what the work of true grace can do in your life? Can you imagine the change in your view of what it is to be bruised but unbroken?

  2. John Kang Says:

    One way this book has challenged me to is moderate the amount of emphasis I put on correcting people’s doctrine when I know that they are very new Christians. Just because one says that we are in control or that prayer will make everything better, we are to overlook the small things and help folks learn theology a piece at a time.

  3. Jerry Says:

    I would say that the practical application for me has been two fold.

    First, I am in awe at the exposition of a single verse of Scripture (OK, two if you count Matthew’s quoting of Isaiah!). I don’t know how many times in my Christian walk that I have read Isaiah 42:3 (Matthew 12:20) and skipped right by it. Not only does Sibbes open up the rich implications of Christ’s tender care of His children, but also shows us the victorious conquering power of our Lord. I am personally convicted of the fact that I treat Scripture too lightly, and need to dig deeper into the spring of living water.

    Second, I have already been given opportunity to share pastorally from Sibbes with hurting bewildered believers. In God’s providence (seems like a good topic to explore in February) I have been equipped through this reading to minister in a tender compassionate way that was not the case prior to this year.

    Our God does all things well.

  4. Chris Says:

    I will admit up front that I’m behind…my books arrived late, and I honestly thought I could fly through it. After the first few pages I realized that I needed to slowly, intentionally, and devotionally soak up these words. I hope to finish it this weekend, but I have been deeply challenged by ever page thus far.

    So far two thoughts have moved me most. First, early in the book Sibbes describes the bruised reed by saying, “He would rather hear of mercy than of a kingdom.” I take this to be a word of council to us preachers. In a room full of bruised reeds, what do we talk about? What do we preach? I think by kingdom that he means worldly pursuits and pleasures. Do we point broken people to rest in Christ, and His mercy? Or do we tell them to work harder for blessings? Do we tell them that God has reserved for them a lot of good stuff for their life, or do we exalt Christ, the only One who can satisfy? Do we teach them to pursue goals, success, and personal greatness, or do we show them Christ pouring out mercy for their broken hearts?

    Second, his discussion of the challenge of the flesh to spiritual maturity was good for me, especially when he tells me that this struggle is intended to “force me” to rest on His justification, not my sanctification. My sanctification is stained…His justification through the cross is not. We are so tempted to try to find security for our hearts in ourselves. But I rejoice in being reminded to “pitch” my rest on His justification!


  5. As with most Puritan preachers I greatly enjoyed the Christ centeredness of his preaching. Also, there was no call to have ones best life now but instead he speaks of how God is molding His children for their glorious life in eternity. The gospel message of Sibbes is far removed from the message most often preached today that pictures the gospel as more of a tonic to enhance ones life than a means of approaching God simply to be with and worship Him for eternity.


  6. This book has been a tremendous blessing and a rebuke to my heart in many ways. I am thankful for it. It has had the use of helping me to see the necessity of tenderness in my demeanor to those who are downcast and sorrowful. I am the kind of person who says to myself, “I have no reason to be downcast…why are you downcast, o my soul. I will rejoice in the Lord. Enough said.” And I tend to hold others to that standard in my own mind. It has exposed that I have the tendency to look down on people who do not show the “joy of the Lord” all the time. Sibbes has so plainly displayed that I need to seek to lift these bruised men and women up just as Christ did. I don’t think anyone would say that I’m not empathetic, or am unkind, but I have seen that this subtle attitude is in my heart. It has given me much food for thought along these lines.

    My heart was absolutely exposed on many levels and just as Chris says, Sibbes helped me to see the importance of resting in His justification rather than my sanctification. I think I talk big game about resting in the cross of Christ and making that my only hope and my only plea, but as I read, I saw that while I do that, I also sometimes slip and count my “progress” for something. This has been a great rebuke and Praise God for it. I think that Sibbes has helped me see the seed of the hypocrisy of the pharisees in my own heart. He speaks so beautifully about the fire of the smoaking flax being solely God’s work and I need to see that all the time. Even though I believe it, appearently I am prone to think on my rightousness as being something in itself, even though I know better. (a thousand times over!)

    This book has been a tremendous and special blessing.

  7. Mike Leake Says:

    The Lord has used The Bruised Reed along with immersing myself in the writings of John Newton to convict me and grow me in a very important area of ministry–giving mercy. The Lord has used Newton to help me see that I need to apply my Reformed theology to my brothers and sisters in Christ as well. It is but the grace of God that causes any of us to embrace truth, and therefore, I must be patient, merciful and gently instruct those that may be in error. Sibbes has furthered this sentiment. Chapter 5 was probably the most significant chapter for me. It helped me to see the need for being patient and loving towards those that have but a spark. It also encourages me in times whenever my life appears (or even in reality) is but a spark. I cannot express how deeply the truth that “the least spark of grace is precious” has changed my heart and attitude. I am forvered indebted to the Lord for using Sibbes in such a way. I now know that my responsibility as a minister is to be used by Christ to help edify (or as Sibbes would put it to fan the ‘sparks’ of grace) the weakest of sinners. Thank you Richard Sibbes. Thank you Jesus!


  8. I think the two things that really struck me about the Bruised Reed was Sibbes’ proclamation that our self-pity (my phrase) when we do sin is a sin before God. I know I get that way when my sin is brought before me during prayer time. I cannot count how the number of times when I bemoan the fact that I am not worthy. Of course I am not worthy, that is the point of Christ’s death on the cross. I have found that being rebuked of my furthering the sin through self-pity and such, I have learned to love Christ all the more for what He did on the cross.

    The second thing I learned was the necessity of persisting in my duties for my sanctification. This ties back into what I just said about the self-pity. All too often I would not pray because I felt unworthy or would not read my Bible because of a particular sin. Sibbes made the point that we, as justified sinners in Christ, have the power of Jesus to perform our duties. Even though there is much sin in our prayers, preaching, gospel presentation, etc., God only sees the good intentions of our heart of flesh because He gave it to us. We have the Christ interceding for us before the throne of God for all that we do. It is as if He is a translator for us. Our prayers are lifted up to the heavens by the Holy Spirit where Christ translates and filters our requests to God the Father who then grants our prayers according to His will. The ultimate prayer is that our will be so conformed to God’s that Christ does not have much “translating” to do.

    That for me was the two main things that have touched my life and impacted my spiritual disciplines. I pray that these “impacts” become life changes. I pray that they help me to become less the hypocrite I am.

  9. F.M. Says:

    Timmy –
    For getting this challenge rolling, a simple ‘thank you’ would not be adequate. It has been incredible and we still have 11 books to go.

    By far the most awesome (in the true sense of the word) experience came early on…

    One day a couple of friends and I were preparing to confront a continually struggling brother in a less than loving manner . After talking about this man all morning long and discussing how we should ‘deal with him,’ I went home for a quick lunch.

    During lunch I read the following in Chapter 5, “The Spirit of Mercy Shall Move Us”.

    “Men must not be too curious in prying into the weaknesses of others. We should labour rather to see what they have that is for eternity, to incline our heart to love them, than into that weakness which the Spirit of God will in time consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas the strongest are readiest to bear with the infirmities of the weak.”

    “The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls. Oh, that that Spirit would breathe into our spirits the same merciful disposition! We endure the bitterness of wormwood, and other distasteful plants and herbs, only because we have some experience of some wholesome quality in them; and why should we reject men of useful parts and graces, only for some harshness of disposition, which, as it is offensive to us, so it grieves themselves?”

    ‘Nuff said?

    One other sentence that hit me. Regarding bruising: “We must join with God in bruising ourselves.” WHAT!!?? Was he out of his mind? 😉

    Anyway, thanks again.

    My only fear is that the next 11 books won’t open my eyes near as much as this one did.

    My only consolation is that I’m virtually certain they will 😉

  10. F.M. Says:

    One last thing. I caught the radio show (via mp3). Great job. I look forward to the next one.


  11. Quick clarification: My note at the top speaks about commenting on the post for the giveaway for this month. The link takes you to the introductory post where all you have to do is leave your name (and valid email address in the box). Sorry for any confusion on that!

  12. Mike Leake Says:

    Finished all of my summaries, discussions, and pearls and diamonds for each chapter. I will not bother to link to everyone individually, but encourage any that are interested to go to my hompeage–each chapter is linked on the side-bar. This has been truly amazing! Looking forward to all 12 books 🙂 Thanks again Timmy for all you are doing in this.

  13. Dave Bignell Says:

    How has The Bruised Reed and Richard Sibbes affected me?….Who can say? I suppose that will become evident over the course of my life.

    A person doesn’t have to read very far into this book to see the depth of love that Sibbes had for Christ and his fellow servant. Its clearly evident the he was a man who was very much aware of his scholarly gifts and of God’s desire for him to comfort whomever he could through his life’s preaching and writing; not to mention his living example with those he was closest (I understand them to be many).

    A few months ago, I resolved to shake myself from my lukewarm Christian walk and genuinely seek God in a way I never had. God is faithful. The Old Testament stories I was reading that dealt with His mercy and judgment dovetail beautifully with Sibbes explaining of the richness of Christ’s grace and love. I can’t begin to say how many “ah-ha!” moments I experienced. The story of Joseph’s dealings with his brothers in Egypt fits amazingly well with Sibbes chapter on Christ’s judgment and victory.

    But, I understand that the Puritans liked to keep things practical. Well, practically, after reading this book I can sense that (1) I now desire to be a little more patient with myself as well as others. (2) I am eager to let Christ to have that seat of judgment within my heart. (3) I have a greater desire to delight myself in the things of God, because I see better that God will give you the desires of your heart (lit. give desires to you). (4) I think I recognize my error in praying for ability when I should have been praying for grace. And, on and on. I’m sure many of us will be reflecting about this book for some time to come.

    On to Flavel.

  14. Ken Askew Says:

    This is my first reading of Sibbes, though I have heard Mark Dever speak fondly of him. I have grown to love the Puritans and Sibbes is no exception. As a group, they appear to have been prolific writers and certainly not afraid of deep theological thought. How lucky I am to be enjoying the fruit of their labors today.

    I have been able to share many thoughts from this work with others already, but the image that has been most vivid for me is the smoking flax. Working from an example in the book, I imagine the saving ember of grace being supplanted into a small pile of tender. Christ then cups it into His hand and gently fuels the ember into a flame with His breath. As the ember blossoms into fire, the smoke is heavy and stings the eyes; just like sin stings a true believer’s conscience. But as the fire grows and grows, the smoke is carried upward by the draft and thus less prevalent. And should not sin gradually become less prevalent in our lives with each passing day of our abiding with Christ?

    Sibbe’s work is great; looking forward to eleven more treats!

  15. D.L. Kane Says:

    I think I might have shared (on a previous post) how the Lord used the writings of the Puritans to transform my walk with the Lord. So, if I did—please forgive the reiteration.

    I was first exposed to them in an old used book store in Modesto California. This particular used book store had a huge “Religion” section. I would drive there on weekends, because they allowed you to sit at their wooden library table and read all day long if you were so inclined and so I could get fed without having to buy a book—and funds were limited. I would search for titles by MacArthur, Sproul, etc., because those were the men I knew, and knew that I could trust—I had never heard of “the Puritans”.

    I will never forget the day I pulled an old book of the shelf, published in December of 1967, entitled, “Banner of Truth-Vol I-Issues 1-16” and began to read. As I read John Owen’s “Songs of Sovereignty” I felt as though I had been starving for years and had just entered into a room with a beautiful banquet table filled with the most incredible food that anyone could ever desire.

    As I sat there turning the pages, my soul was fed as it had never been fed before by the words of mere mortals. Needless to say, I purchased that book—that day! After finding the writings of these men and spending the following year “feasting on them” I grew in my love for the Lord and the Word of God; more in that following year than I had in the previous 7 years since my conversion.

    After reading all of your comments, it became clear to me that God has used these men (there lives and their writings) to effect very similar experiences and affections. What a blessing He has given all of us.

    God’s providence placed me there in that book store on that day back in 2001; God’s providence allowed these men to experience what they experienced, when they experienced it, in order to produce such God glorifying works; and, God’s providence has allowed all of us to be blessed and to grow through being made aware of Timmy’s challenge! Ah, “The Mystery of Providence………….”

    For His Sake,
    D.L. Kane


  16. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bruised Reed. I cheerfully admit I had next to no clue what I was getting into when I joined the Reading Challenge (discovered through another homeschooler). The book has provided much fodder for my commonplace book and for contemplation.

    “Charity” is what has stuck with me from this book. Sibbes wrote, “Shall man be proud after God has been humble?” and I hope to carry that with me.

  17. Jordan Says:

    Thanks so much for creating this reading challenge. I often pick up a Puritan-Paperback, get half way through it, and move on to something else. It’s nice to have a systematic plan in which to work through during the year. One of my favorite aspects of the Bruised Reed is Sibbes continual emphasis on God’s covenant of grace as the foundation upon which all other mercies come to us. As Sibbes labored to prove early on, a misunderstanding of or confusion between law and gospel leads to serious soteriological errors. A proper understanding of the Covenant of Grace yields an immeasurable amount of comfort to a weary and weak soul. The doctrines of God’s covenantal condescension of grace to helpless sinners presents itself as the ethos of Puritan and Reformed thought.

    “It will prove a special help to know distinctly the difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, between Moses and Christ. Moses, without any mercy, breaks all bruised reeds, and quenches all smoking flax. For the law requires personal, perpetual, and perfect obedience from the heart, and that under a most terrible curse, but gives no strength. It is a severe task-master, like Pharaoh’s, requiring the whole tale of bricks and yet giving no straw. Christ comes with blessing after blessing, even upon those whom Moses had cursed, and with healing balm for those wounds which Moses had made. The same duties are required in both covenants, such as to love the Lord with all our hearts and with all our souls. In the covenant of works, this must be fulfilled absolutely, but under the covenant of grace it must have an evangelical mitigation. A sincere endeavor proportionable to grace received is accepted. Under this gracious covenant, sincerity is perfection. This is the death in the pot of the Roman religion, that they confound the two covenants, and it deadens the comfort of drooping ones that they cannot distinguish them. And thus they suffer themselves to be held under bondage when Christ has set them free, and stay in the prison when Christ has set the doors open before them.”


  18. The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes encouraged me during a dry and discouraging time in the life of my church. For over 4 years I have struggled with the lack of love in the church I attend. If it weren’t for the lack of churches to choose from here in Japan, we probably would have left a long time ago rather than persevere there.

    The biggest thing that I gleaned from reading Sibbes book was more awareness of my weaknesses and the need for Christ! However, the practical application of The Bruised Reed is in the introspection of the relevancy of Richard Sibbes in my own life and in the life of my church. Since it is not 500 words or less, those that are interested in reading it can click here.

    My prayer after reading The Bruised Reed, is that Christ will raise up more ‘Heavenly Doctor’s’ throughout the world so that those who are sick and diseased might find, in Christ, the medicine that they need in order to glorify and enjoy Him forever!


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