“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.” — Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)
Man, did I make some resolutions back in the day!! I was gonna quit this to do that, I even went out and bought the stuff to do that which I said I would resolve myself to do. All that stuff is now hidden away in a place I call “Eh…I’ll get around to it.” Yeah, so I eventually gave up on making any New Years resolutions. Besides, statistics show that 25% of those resolutions are broken by January 2nd, so why burden myself with them? And ya know the problem with those nifty resolutions is that they are based on law rather than grace. It’s like ‘if we had a little bit more willpower, a little bit more self-effort, we could kick a bad habit and practice a new discipline.’ Yeah, right!
Around the time of his 20th birthday, the infamous 18th century theologian, Jonathan Edwards, started making resolutions more about living for Christ rather than himself. He wrote a booklet titled, “Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions and Advice to Young Converts.” I don’t own it (yet), but for the sake of having internet capabilities I have been able to read some these seventy personal resolutions that he put into writing. This dude was so serious about his relationship with Christ that he wrote many of his resolutions against the backdrop of eternity. He resolved “never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life,” and “to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.” He also made this resolution: “that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”
Pretty heavy-duty stuff, but don’t we serve a pretty heavy-duty God? So, it’s in that that I would like to share some of the things (Thanks for those, inter-webs) that Jonathan Edwards resolved himself to be in front of a mighty God.
On man’s chief end: “Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God.”
On redeeming the time: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.”
On giving to the poor: “Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.”
On caring for the body: “Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.”
On reading the Bible: “Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of them.”
On guarding the tongue: “Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility and a sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the Golden Rule.”
On repentance: “Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed.”
On sanctification: “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.”
I can barely remember what I was resolving myself to do at age 20, but in contrast it seems that Jonathan Edwards was a serious young man and serious about living for Christ in every way, every day. One of the last resolutions he wrote was, “Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, that is, with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and everything, and every circumstance.” This was not me at twenty years old…it’s barely me at fifty-five.
It has been said that Jonathan Edwards didn’t write any more resolutions after these, but who can blame him? Isn’t seventy enough? But there maybe a good reason why he didn’t and that is he may have had a healthy respect for his own depravity. Unfortunately for us when we think of our depravity, we use it as reason to practice self-mortification on our souls and we beat ourselves into a sense of uselessness for Kingdom work. What a lie!! God, Himself, has resolved to never leave or forsake us, so why be dismayed? Yeah, we don’t measure up to God’s standard but that’s not license to live like it is not achievable. How about we just resolve ourselves this year, and every year after, to live depended on the mercy that God has shown in Jesus Christ to forgive all our sins. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ’s sake.” — Jonathan Edwards
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30