A friend of mine shared an article that shared Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions. When we think of resolutions, we typically think of New Year’s resolutions that we make and then, for most of us, immediately break.
The Puritan preacher’s resolutions, however, are more like a personal mission statement about Edwards wanted to live his by and revisited often. Historians believe his resolutions were first written in 1722 and then rewritten several times over his lifetime. There are seventy in all, but I want to focus on just one.
“Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God,” Edwards wrote.
I immediately think of the toxic political discourse we’re experiencing in 2020.
Can you imagine if we did this how it would completely upend that? (And I’m looking at myself as well.)
Instead of pointing out others’ mistakes, missteps, sin, and failings, we would use this as an opportunity to go to God in repentance for our own sin.
Obviously, the application extends far beyond politics. Its practice could help us through all sorts of conflict, learning to speak to one another with grace and recognizing that we are not immune to the same sin, the same failings.
I’m also reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” (Ephesians 4:1-3, ESV).
So when we want to point out someone’s flaw, we also need to remember we are flawed as well. This is humility. That does not mean correction is not necessary, but it does mean it has to be devoid of spiritual pride.
Seeing others’ sin and failings should only remind us of how much we need Jesus.