1Glories

Refining Life, on Purpose

Resolve to Build Relationships with Love and Cheerfulness of Heart

We build relationships while being mindful of our talk; taking careful action to ensure our hearts are aimed at building people up, and not tearing them down. Likewise, we are all flawed, and casting judgement or others is not our task at hand. Refraining from hateful thoughts and speech is freeing.

There’s a lot of focus on how we build relationships throughout many areas. I find it to be true in my business trade, my ministry work, my roles at church, and in so many others. Some will call it customer service, experience management, or any of dozens of other buzzworthy monikers. Yet, it comes down to how we build relationships. And how we build relationships has much to do with how we represent ourselves to others.

This is where I think a lot of well-intentioned Christians too often fall into a misguided belief that they are called to be the moral police of society. They somehow think they are supposed to be the judge and to carry out sentencing. And we sadly do that without first holding ourselves to the same standards. We’re forgetting that we are just as flawed as those we are judging.

Cases in point: refusing to help an unwed mother, telling people to honor the Sabbath and then working or conducting business on Sundays, professing that all money is God’s and then spending mightily on furnishings, high-end coffee, and over-the-top mega buildings, in the name of worship, etc.  

This is not a new happening to our society. Edwards himself states it as a personal weakness his diary (on July 13, 1723):

“In times past, I have been too free, in judging of the hearts of men, from their actions.

What difference does it make? For starters, the world is watching. As an ambassador of Christ, you are held to a higher standard. That standard dictates what the world thinks of Christians and Christ in general. In fact, it could be the difference in a person’s eternal residence.

Your Behavior is an Exhibition of Your Authentic Heart

Edwards’ Resolution #58 (as it was written)

Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May 27, and July 13, 1723.

Edwards’ Resolution #58 (in my modernized language)

Resolved: Instead if showing dislike, worry, and anger while interacting with others, show the presence of love, cheerfulness and graciousness.

You see, there are two parts to Edwards’ resolution.  Yes, it suggests refraining from using expressions of dislike, worry and anger. However, if you take something out, what shall you replace it with? As Edwards says, you replace it with love, cheer and grace.

Of course, The only way to truly retrain your mouth to hold back those unworthy expressions while swapping in those of higher worth is to retrain your mind and heart.

It should be noted that this resolution is closely connected to Resolution #47. That one is one that pertains to self-control. And it’s our general lack of self-control that leads to our hypocritical exhibitions. A verse from Matthew chapter 15 comes to mind:

Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.” – Matthew 15:18-19 (MSG)

The World is Watching as we Seek to Tame our Selfish Hearts

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Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. – Ephesians 4:29 (MSG)

Just like the verse from Matthew, Ephesians 4:29 is contrasting corrupted speech with uplifting speech. The Apostle Paul is encouraging us to intentionally attempt to live differently than we had before we knew Christ Such corrupting talk is most commonly associated with those who do not know Christ. It’s a downright shame when such talk and hypocritical actions (neither of which I am fully blameless) are carried out. This is especially true when it occurs in a visible manner for the world to witness,

Christians, control of our tongues. That’s because they are a powerful influence in how the world perceives us. As Paul says, we are to speak beneficially about meaningful things. Also, it should be one in ways that are appropriate to our circumstances, showing grace to those who are listening.

As we tame our hearts, our minds, and our tongues, our priorities should not be that of our own feelings. Instead, our intent must be directing toward building relationships and helping others through our words.

How Might We Retrain our Hearts, Minds and Tongues

We are who God built us to be. And there’s no doubt about that. We are a unique mix of our upbringings, experiences, values, and the generations in which we come of age. It’s safe to say that, though there may be similar people, there is nobody exactly like you.

For some people, this sort of ambition – the manner in which you present yourselves to others – is an easy task. They have the moxxy and emotional intelligence to carry it out. Others – like me – have a tongue that literally tingles and cries out the moment my emotions are stirring. In fact, I’ve spent a long time trying to tame it, and I am a constant work in progress.

I think a lot of it begins with desire. First, you have to desire to be a just representative of Christ (or whatever it is you chose to represent). Next, you have to be willing to forfeit your own ego and longings. I am often provoked to jealousy. That’s something I admit. Another personal shame; I am also prone to consider myself above others. I don’t like it, and I am often praying for God to rid such emotions from my heart.

That ain’t easy. I am human after all. What I have come to understand, though, is that I can trust in God and in his absolute providence for my life. It’s not my just to judge nor is it my place to sentence (whether literally or figuratively). My job, then, is to pray for those perceived offenders. To speak with love, cheerfulness, and grace.

This approach is a powerful one. You see, refraining for that constant longing to judge and direct hate frees you. Not only is it infinitely better for your soul, it frees you to focus on how you live.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.