2009 is upon us, for good or ill, and it has me thinking about resolutions. The most common New Year’s resolutions, I would guess, would be to quit smoking, lose weight and get in shape. I’m not a “resolution” kind of person. I figure if something is good enough to be considered worthy of a change in my attitude or behavior on January 1, it is good enough to warrant the same change the other 364 days of the year.
But, I attend Bethlehem Baptist Church in the twin cities area. Our pastor is John Piper and he has a love for the teachings of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century Puritan theologian and pastor. Jonathan Edwards was probably the greatest thinker and theologian of our time. When a young man, Jonathan Edwards penned 70 resolutions, guidelines for living, which he read every week. Of his resolutions, the following are the most convicting for me. I pray daily that God will draw me close and so fill me with Himself that I find such resolutions achievable. I can tell you from experience (lots of experience), I can accomplish none of these on my own.
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 myriad’s 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.
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.
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.
55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.
56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.
61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.
I long to always give glory to God, to be efficient with my time, to live with all my might, to be courageous and to be poor in spirit, realizing that I am the chief of sinners. I strive but fail to study the Scriptures steadily and constantly and frequently, to act as if I had seen both heaven’s glory and hell’s torment, to fight my weakness constantly and never give up, even if I fail, and to never give way to the laziness that pulls my thoughts and soul away from God. For those ends I strive with God’s help every day of the new year.
I would that God grant you, dear reader, a year of seeing and experiencing to glory of our great God.