I’ve been reading Richard Sibbs book, A Bruised Reed. Sibbs seems to understand something of the heart of Jesus that I desperately need to grasp in a deeper way. Perhaps you do too. The title of his book is based on Isaiah 42:3. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” I feel few have mined its depths like this puritan did. I’m thankful for what his efforts have caused my heart to consider.
The Weak of the Weak
A reed is weak. A bruised reed is utter frailty and inability. The heart of Jesus for sinners is such that He knows how to deal with the weakest.
I have a few questions for you. Are you frail because of life, or relationships, or self-inflicted suffering from sinful choices? Are you feeling useless, disqualified, and spiritually drained because of repeated failures? Is Satan accusing you, persecuting you, and discouraging your soul daily and seeking to draw you away from the grace of the gospel? If the answer is yes to any of these, then you could be this bruised reed. So I have news for you. Though some might write you off, cast you aside, quit and give up on you, Jesus is the one that is still drawn to you. It’s as if Jesus operates best in this condition. Not that He is limited by other conditions. He’s not, but think about the number of stories in the Bible when Jesus interacts with a person of immense weakness. The woman with the issue of blood. The blind he gave sight to. The man with the withered hand. The demon possessed. The woman caught in adulatory. Jairus’s dead daughter. Why were these recorded for us? Why don’t we find more stories of Jesus simply life-coaching and assisting able-bodied warriors, powerful politicians, successful business men and women, elite members of society, and high-class moms and dads along the road of life? We don’t need a life coach. Sinners need a sympathetic Savior who understands and is not turned away by inability. That’s what we have in Jesus.
How We Treat Weak People
Think about how unlike Jesus your heart can be in your treatment of weak people. I don’t just mean physically weak, necessarily, but spiritual weakness. The person who doubts God, misunderstands Scripture, mishandles theology, stresses about risk, fails in faith, wrestles with worry, and walks in fear daily. Do you despise them? Do we deal harshly with them? I’ve been thinking about this more since reading Sibbs’ book. Sibbs says, “The power that is given to the church is given for edification, not destruction.” And yet, so often we are impatient, unloving, unkind and we do not bear with weakness as we should. More tragically, we ignore the very heart of Christ, and how he bore with us in our own weaknesses.
By His grace, we need this to change. The Church needs to be known for how it embraces weak people, not for how we discourage, discomfort, or snuff out the barely burning flames among us.
Jesus is so Kindhearted
There is a kindness in the heart of Jesus that is uniquely for those who belong to him through faith. It is this kindness that leads us to repentance. He is so good to help us see our sin as worthless, so that we turn from it for good, and look to him as infinitely worthy. His kindness is like that feeling a child gets when drawn to her fathers lap as he sits in a cozy chair with a book and a blanket. You just want to be there. He is utterly kind to save and secure us in His salvation, though we’ve done nothing to deserve it. He’s kind to bestow upon us the Spirit of comfort who teaches us all things, convicts us of sin, disciplines our waywardness, and points us to truth. He was kind do suffer for sinners. It wasn’t just any suffering. It was a substitutionary punishment. He didn’t deserve the affliction, but as our perfect High Priest and Mediator, He sought to understand us in our weakness so that in the very moment of our bruising and discouragement, and as He’s binding up our very wounds we can here Him say, “I’ve been there.” He is so kind!
Fanned Into Flames Again
If he doesn’t break the bruised reed, nor snuff out the smoldering wick, then what does He do with them? He heals. He repairs. He restores. He saves. He redeems. He resurrects. He looks upon the bruised reed of a man or woman’s soul in Christ, even if possessing only the smallest amount of faith, and He repairs us with the promises of His Word, producing faith. He fans the flames again with His Holy Spirit and the assurance of His love. He does it through the Word. He does it through the Church, through faithful men and women of God who make it their aim to imitate the heart of Jesus for sufferers.
If you’re wondering how this might apply to you, this could be how. You might be the bruised reed. You might be the smoldering wick. This means there’s an element of unyielding weakness that you feel and cannot help by any natural means. You are weak, and in need, but I tell you that Jesus is not going to be the one to end you, to hang you up or shelve you. Trust His goodness and the kindness of His heart, and rely once again on what He’s already accomplished for you, and find your strength in Him again.
Think about those who are spiritually bruised in your life. They are not less than you. And because Jesus is drawn to them, so should we all be. Think about what encouragement does to a soul. Think about the life-giving power of simply preaching the gospel of Jesus to someone rather than proving a point or attacking a weakness. I know I need help in this area. Do you? I’ve been praying a lot this year for two things in particular; graciousness and mercifulness. I see these so much in Jesus. Do we want it said that Jesus doesn’t break the weak, and yet we carelessly do? Let’s ask the Father to make us much more like the Son, and rely on the Spirit and the Word to see the transformation take place.