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.
This particular resolution stirs up a focus of humility for me. In the beginning, Edwards is sure to mention that this is applicable both in word (speaking) and deed (doing)–so we must be careful not to categorize this topic merely in one topic or the other.
Next he mentions that he wants to hold himself to the character and perception that nobody “has been so vile as I”, even if the same sins or failings have been committed in him as have others; this, I feel, is one of the most important parts of this resolution because this is an issue in which many of us struggle. When we sin, we often minimize our sin, or justify it, or soften it up so it appears to us lighter than it actually is–thus attempting to leave us with a less convicted and less burdened conscience. This is very dangerous because we cannot minimize our sin and still maintain a proper perspective of God. God is infinitely holy (set apart), and sin is infinitely detestable; the lines cannot be muddied in this. When we sin, we are saying to God “my ways are more important than your ways”, and to minimize this is to minimize our depravity before God–which, again, is very dangerous ground to be treading on. // Praise be to God that even though our sin is worse of than we ever could have imagined, Christ redeemed it beyond anything we could have ever believed [and is still redeeming today!].
Next, Edwards mentions “and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself,” which I feel compliments the previous statement of needing to not get prideful or puffed up in our pridefulness or weighing ourselves against other people–but rather, God.
“and prove only on occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God” –> This part calls me to examine only myself. I know personally I’ve slipped into looking to other people’s sins and failings and measure myself against them, then becoming complacent because maybe “my sins aren’t that bad!” or “at least I don’t struggle with that!” Friends, and I’m speaking to myself here as well, this is in no way edifying (building up/encouraging) and is not only harming our perception of a brother/sister in Christ, but also making us prideful and trying to deflect or justify our own sin–and this ought to be dealt with.
May we come to God knowing that we are nothing, and we are worse off than we could’ve ever imagined; but also knowing that in Christ, and because of Christ, we have the inheritance of sons and daughter of the Most High King, and that His redemption has made us perfectly clean, righteous, and holy before God–not anything we could have, or ever did, but His work alone. And may we not look horizontally at everyone else in this world, weighing ourselves and finding false-righteousness in comparison, but may we look vertically to Christ, who is a mediator for us in Heaven, forgiving us, and making us heirs in the Kingdom.