A new year is upon us, and a new round of resolutions are being made. While the cynical belittle the making of resolutions as an exercise in futility, most folks still hold out hope that this year those resolutions are going to stick.
Jonathan Edwards serves as an example of healthy resolutions. Edwards, by the way, did not see the keeping of his resolutions as making him right with God. God had done that by grace through faith in Christ. Nor did Edwards believe that he could keep these resolutions out of sheer will power. He explained, “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.”
Edwards resolutions are worthy of serving as a model for those of us who would seek to live unto the glory of God. While space prohibits sharing all of them (a list of at least seventy resolutions has been compiled), carefully examine the first ten. By the way, Edwards sought to remind himself of his resolutions by trying to read through the list once a week.
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 and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
8. 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.
9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.
Edwards was consumed with the truth that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As we enter the new year, we would do well to observe Edwards’ example.