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 of 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 packs a lot in this resolution, but it all centers around one theme: loving others by honest self-examination. He says the best way to do this is to embrace yourself as the worst sinner of all. When you do this, anytime you see someone sinning, even if their sinning against you, you won’t become prideful thinking that your better than they are because, you know that you are a worse sinner than them. Also, Edwards goes farther to say that upon seeing the sins of others, he will confess the same sins in himself to God rather than letting the knowledge of their sins lead to elevating himself over them. I am convinced that this is the only way to love those that are hard to love. How does this happen?
Have you ever had this thought: “It’s really hard to “be Christian” and loving toward _______ (fill in the blank)”? If you have, than your like the rest of the Christian population around the globe. All of us know someone or have people in our lives who are hard to love, for reasons that seem really obvious to us. Perhaps it is how they talk that bothers you, or how they laugh, or how it feels like they are sucking the life out of you, or perhaps the reason why you have trouble “being Christian” and loving toward them is that they have sinned against you in a really painful way. The question I want to get it today, is this: how do we love ______? I am convinced there is only one way.
What is that way? You and I will only be Christian and loving to ______ (fill in the blank) if we see ourselves as bigger sinners than they are just as Edwards was talking about in this resolution. It is easy to look around at people you know and measure them up, thinking, “I’ve done better things in my life than that person”, or “I’m not as bad as that person.” This seems to be a knee-jerk reaction for us when we think of _______ (fill in the blank). We immediately think we’re better than they are.
This measuring of ourselves vs. others will stop when we measure ourselves against the One standard we should, God. He will always be perfect, and we will always be, well, not perfect. When we do this, we all will be found wanting, and we’ll all see ourselves as sinners, desperately in need of mercy. It is no longer ______ (fill in the blank) who is rotten, it is the one looking at you in the mirror. You no longer see yourself ‘sinned against’, you see yourself in truth, a ‘sinned against sinner’.
This is how you can love ______ (fill in the blank). Not because you’re super Christians, but because you know that you were loved by Jesus (A PERFECT PERSON) when you were wicked, vile, nasty, and sinful to the uttermost degree (AND STILL ARE!). In response to that great love, you can love anyone! One Song that portrays this well is Matt Redman’s song You Alone Can Rescue from his CD We Shall Not Be Shaken. The first two stanza’s go like this:
Who O’ Lord could save themselves, their own soul could heal? Our shame was deeper than the sea, Your grace is deeper still. You alone can rescue, You alone can save, You alone can lift us from the grave, You came down to find us, let us out of death, to You alone belongs the highest praise!
You O’ Lord have made a way, the great divide You healed, for when our hearts were far away, Your love went further still. You alone can rescue, You alone can save, You alone can lift us from the grave, You came down to find us, let us out of death, to You alone belongs the highest praise!
That can only be sung and meant by a person who has come to taste and see the grace of God flowing over and into their own sinful heart. Have you tasted that? Have you seen that? If you have, loving others will still be hard, but you’ll know where to get the power to do it.