Broken-Down House by Paul David Tripp

Living in a sin-cursed world is hard. It is devastating, painful, and very difficult. Learning how to live in this world is often a challenge. Paul David Tripp, in his book Broken-Down House: Living Productive in a World Gone Bad, walks us through life in this fallen world—this broken house. Everything around us is screaming that this is not how it is supposed to be.

Daniel and I had the opportunity to hear him speak on this topic earlier this year. One of the most helpful things then, and in reading the book, was the idea that often we want the grace of release, when God really wants us to have the grace of refinement. As Tripp points out, this desire often comes from an unhelpful understanding of who we are. We want our rights. We don’t think we are as bad as we are, or even could be. Therefore we don’t see the need for refinement. We think we deserve release. Understanding how to live in this world, as Tripp says, must first begin with a proper assessment of who we are as contributors to the fallen, but also as redeemed sinners.

As redeemed sinners we are to live out a ministry of reconciliation and restoration. This fallen world should make us angry, Tripp says. But it should not make us sin. God is angry at sin, but he never sins. He is good and angry. I don’t know about you, but I am very often bad and angry.

He says,

“God’s anger is the anger of grace. It is not the violent anger of unbridled fury. God’s anger always works to right what is wrong. That is what grace does. This gracious hanger has to sides to it: justice and mercy.”

Tripp will go on to say that this mercy works to do four things: convict (produce sorrow for wrongs), forgive (cancel our debt for wrongs), empower (give us the ability to do what is right) and deliver (clean out sin). The greatest picture of these things is at the Cross.

If God cares so much about these things, we who have been adopted by his grace should care too. The entire second half of the book is about doing things in this broken-down house, and I found it extremely convicting and also very helpful. Our lives are supposed to be ministry, not a slot filled out on a card. In order to live this way, we must live radically, Tripp says. He explains that we have a “dissatisfied Savior.” He is dissatisfied because this is not how his Father’s world is supposed to be. He is working to restore people to right relationship with God through his completed work. Tripp rightfully assesses that as believers our problem is that we are too satisfied with our lives.

“We are easily satisfied with an externalistic and episodic Christianity that lives most fully on Sunday morning. We are easily satisfied with an approach to theological knowledge and biblical literacy that does not reshape and redefine how we live. We easily are satisfied with marriages that are more marital détente than they are pictures of one-flesh unity. We are easily satisfied with raising children who learn to jump through behavioral hoops, but don’t really have hearts for God. We are easily satisfied having casual relationship with neighbors who live in darkness and desperately need to see the Light of Life. We are all too content to lower our standards enough to participate in entertainment that is increasingly perverse in its depiction of life.”

I was sad when the book was over. I couldn’t get enough of it. Maybe it’s because it hit a little close to home this time. After reading this section I was floored. I know my tendencies towards all of those things. But I want to be like my Savior and be dissatisfied. I don’t want to settle for life in this broken-world. Rather, I want to work with all of my might to help people see the only One who can fix and restore what seems to be irreparable. And his name is Jesus.