Monday, 20 February 2012

Resolution 8: Of whom I am the worst...

8. 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.

The apostle Paul summarised this resolution in a nutshell; "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: of whom I am the worst" (1 Tim 1:15, The Bible). It is true to say that the more I understand the greatness of God, and the extent of Jesus' sacrificial love for me, the more I see my own heart for what it is - self-obsessive, judgemental, overly concerned with others opinions of me...

"Thats a bit extreme!" you might say. Perhaps to the outsider, I look like a pretty decent person. I go to church, I care for my husband and daughter, I look after my friends kids, I give to charity... but on the inside, I know the desires and motivations of my heart are often self-centred... no matter how hard I try, it seems my heart is unable to do "good" without some slightly corrupt motivation.

We could allow this kind of self-analysis to break us... but that's the beauty of the cross. I don't need to be perfect, because Jesus has done it for me. I don't need to pretend to be something I'm not... he knows who I am. Right to the core. He sees everything. He knows me better than I know myself...

And that also then frees me up to forgive others, to overlook the faults and failures of those around me, because I see my own so clearly. At least that is what Edwards is calling us here to strive to... not to delight in the failures of others, or to be relieved that we haven't made the same mistakes, or even to pity them... but instead to see my own faults more clearly, fling myself upon the cross and rejoice that my Saviour has freed me from the burden of self-criticism and instead allows my sin to point me to grace.

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