Jonathan Edwards, one of Americas greatest thinkers and pastors, was a man of incredible discipline. At New Years he tends to come up again and again because of his personal resolutions. As a young man he resolved a series of 70 resolutions for how he would live his life. Desiring God put together a great post organizing Jonathan Edwards 70 resolutions into different categories. You can read them all here. I love reading these resolutions, and read through them again this time of year, because you can almost feel hit youthful vigor, ambition, and drive to live for the Lord. Here are a few of my favorites.
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.
Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
I’d encourage to take a ten minutes or so and read through all 70. By examining these carefully, here are a 4 lessons we can learn about from Jonathan Edwards as we kick off the New Year.
1. We Must Practice the Art of Self-Reflection
Edwards was a man of careful self-reflection. Many of his resolutions involve him examining his behavior. However, he is not just concerned about his own behavior but he is concerned with the sinful motivations that may be underlying his actions. Self Examination is largely losses upon us today. We tend to be too busy to pause and reflect on the state of our hearts. Yet, Edwards thought it was vital for him to regularly check the pulse of his spiritual life. In fact, he would read through his resolutions weekly to remember them and to put them into practice. Perhaps the reason our spiritual life flounders so much is because we do not pause and reflect on our own hearts. We don’t pause and let the Holy Spirit reveal to us hidden sin.
2. We God’s Glory Must Drive and Motivate All We Do
Edwards was motivated by one thing, God’s glory. His faith in God was not kept in a separate compartment away from his day to day life. Edwards was a man who wanted his entire life to be devoted to God and his glory. Many Christians today may confess Christ, but their beliefs and actions do not match up. We may say we long for God’s glory, but we do not live that way. Edwards’ resolutions were the consistent overflow of his theology and worldview. It affected how he thought about his time to how he thought about his eating. If the grace of God does not penetrate to the deepest and mundane levels of every day life, we are missing all that God has for us. The Gospel is holistic, changing the totality of who we are.
3. We Must Live in Light of our Mortality
Edwards was a man who had the faint aroma of his own death in his nostrils. He was constantly reminded of his own mortality and desired to live as if every day was his last. Although we would never say it, many of us live like we are immortal. We live as if tomorrow was guaranteed to us. We goof off and slack off now, because we think tomorrow we can get our act together. Yet Edwards lived his life with the end in mind. He didn’t not want to become an old man filled with regret over wasted time. No matter how young or old we may be, Edwards teaches us to live in light of our mortality.
4. We Must Be Ambitiously Disciplined
These resolutions are incredibly ambitious. It is that ambition that I love about these resolutions. Throughout Edwards life he would fail in the pious perfective goals he set for himself. Although he knew he would not follow them perfectly, he set them any way. He continually sought perfection in this life, even though he knew he could not attain it this side of glory. So often we tend to just give up in our walk with Christ. We think “I can never get rid of this sin” or “I will never be that Christ-like”. We tend to apathetically live our lives letting sin defeat us, all the while failing to realize that sin has lost all power in the life of the believer. Edwards reminds us that we should be unapoloticalcly ambitious in disciplining ourselves for godliness.
As you prepare to Kick Off the next year, dream big. Be ambitious in resolutions and seek after God with every fiber of your being. Resolve to do all for the glory of God and to be found a faithful steward of your life.
Happy New Year!