Look to Jonathan Edwards for examples of inspiring New Year's resolutions for 2018. Resolutions are a wonderful way of setting our minds on things above for God’s glory.
One of the greatest preachers and theologians to have ever come from America was a man named Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). This Puritan Pastor was a prolific writer, a considerable philosopher and he played a significant role in the First Great Awakening. Some of his best-known works would include his books “The End for Which God Created the World”, “Religious Affections” and of course his notable sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”.
Every year there is inevitably conversation about New Year’s Resolutions. These usually take the form of little goals that we have for ourselves such as losing weight, saving more money, quitting smoking or making wiser decisions. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with New Year’s Resolutions, they can sometimes put our focus on ourselves and not on Christ. As we enter 2018, we would do well to consider the amazing Resolutions that Jonathan Edwards wrote for himself as a young man. Edwards’ seventy resolutions
are filled with his desire to pursue God’s glory in all things and to not waste a moment of his life on frivolity. Even though we may not resonate with every one of his resolutions, many of them can serve as an exhortation and encouragement to us on pursuing a life lived for the Lord.
Before the Resolutions he wrote: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.
In other words, Edwards knew he couldn’t keep any of these Resolutions without the help of Christ and only wanted to keep them if they were a part of His will and for His glory. Then Edwards wrote the reminder to himself, “Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.”
Resolution 1 lays out the foundation for the rest. He wanted to do whatever he could for God’s glory and for his own good:
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
Note his desire to do these things regardless of how difficult they may be or how much time they may take. He wants to live for God’s glory!
Here are a few more Resolutions of Edwards that could help us focus our hearts and minds on growing in our Christian walk:
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then, both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.
52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.
Edwards’ Resolutions are a wonderful example of setting our minds on things above and not earthly things for God’s glory (Colossians 3:2). Take a few minutes and read Edward’s Resolutions for yourself, maybe pick one or two for your New Year’s Resolution. Perhaps almost 300 years later, God will use this man’s gifts to draw you closer to Him and give you a love for His Word.