The Puritans will be forever-famous for their soul-work, their application of the truths of Scripture to all of life, but especially to the issues of the heart. This faithful, pastoral work was the result of a conviction that all theology, when properly understood, becomes practical theology. That is the biggest reason why I love the Puritans. Through reading their works, I am continually blessed, nurtured, strengthened, rebuked, and directed back to the glory of our sufficient Savior.
This morning, after spending some time looking for attributes of God in the Psalms, I again picked up Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans, by Joel Beeke and Terry Slachter. Chapter 5 is entitled “Submission to God’s Will” and is excellent. The authors draw from the book of Job, demonstrating the submissive heart of this great man of God.
The following quote is especially helpful as it includes four self-counseling questions for our times of sorrow and loss.
"The Lord gave us everything. Job said later, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). So respond to trials and tragedies by remembering God’s generosity in everything He has given you. Faith in God’s sovereignty helps us to submit to God. According to Caryl, faith is a sword that can slay four monsters of the sinful heart: discontent, envy, pride, and contempt. So in times of loss or sorrow, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you discontent, feeling you have too little? Submit to God, knowing that He gives you your portion with a Father’s love. Is your Father not wise?
- Do you envy others for having more than you? “The Lord gave.” Doesn’t He have the right to do as He pleases with His possessions? Does God have to ask for your permission? Is it wrong for God to show grace to someone other than you?
- Are you proud because you are abundantly blessed? All good things are gifts from God, but if you obtained your riches by dishonest or violent means, they are the devil’s gifts that will be cursed by God.
- Do you look with contempt on those who have less than you do? “The Lord gave,” so He could as easily have given them more than you, for He gives freely."
Though this book is written specifically for pastors it is filled with wisdom for all of us. If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, or your pastor, it is available in softcover or e-book from Reformation Heritage Books.
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