Chapters 1 and 2
In the first 2 chapters, Bridges reminds us that:
1. If we are believers in Jesus, we are saints. We are saints because we are sanctified and we should behave in a way that reflects that reality.
2. While the concept of sin has been softened by society as a whole, in churches we tend to put distance between ourselves and the reality of sin. We believe sin exists, but it exists 'out there' and judge those outside the church who commit more 'serious' sins while ignoring the sins we have come to accept among ourselves:
We were incensed, and rightfully so, when a major denomination ordained a practising homosexual as a bishop. Why do we not also mourn over our selfishness, our critical spirit, our impatience and our anger? ... [T]he concept of sin among many conservative Christians has been essentially redefined to cover only the obviously gross sins of our society. The result, then, is that for many morally upright believers, the awareness of personal sin has effectively disappeared from their own consciences. But it has not disappeared from the sight of God.Now obviously (as Bridges acknowledges) whilst all sin is sin, not all sins have the same consequences, and not all sins ought to be met with the same response. A pastor getting cranky in a committee meeting does not necessarily disqualify himself from continuing in the job, but a pastor committing adultery with a member of the congregation probably does. But maybe a habit of getting cranky in committee meetings, and a settled attitude of refusing to repent from that habit, would amount to something that would disqualify a person from pastoral ministry. And quite apart from whether it would or wouldn't, it still grieves God and falls short of what we're meant to be as his saints.
So here's the question I'd love to hear your thoughts on: how do we as ministry wives (together with our husbands) maintain an awareness of our responsibility to be an example in visible things, without forgetting to take seriously the invisible things? How do we keep our focus first and foremost on living our lives before God, and not become content with just living our lives before people - avoiding the sins that people see and disapprove of, tolerating the sins that people don't see or don't censure?
Any wisdom you've picked up along the way? Any lessons you've learnt?