Jonathan Edwards and Resolutions (39): Above Reproach
39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
There are two sides to this resolution. One is staying away from those things that are questionable. The other is doing those things which if not done are sins of omission. I want to spend time today on the former.
In a world of grays, we can find ourselves faced with decisions that may not be outright sinful but are not above reproach. Paul warns young Timothy, in 1 Timothy 3:2a about this: "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach...". Above reproach (ἀνεπίλημπτον) carries with it this assumption that there are those 'out there' seeking to discredit you and the testimony of Christ in you. And this isn't limited to overseers (elders/bishops). This is for any of God's people.
Picture a suitcase for a moment. Every suitcase has a handle. Whoever grabs the handle can transport the suitcase wherever he or she desires. Paul is charging Timothy to live his life without handles. In today's culture, people are eager to make accusations or give partial context so as to ruin a person's life, reputation, and work. We would do well to follow Edwards in resolving not to put ourselves in situations (a) that can tempt us to sin or (b) open us up to needless accusations.
We are ambassadors of Christ. We are stewards of the good deposit of the gospel. Therefore, we must be, by God's grace, above reproach so that we can continue to play a part in expanding God's Kingdom on earth.