Living in Resolution

Living in Resolution

Making a New Year’s Resolution is something many of us do year after year. Unfortunately, just as often, we don’t keep the resolutions. Then when the next December 31 rolls around, we resolve to make the same change we did last year—and will obviously fail again.

The point isn’t to make a resolution (or resolutions), but to live resolved in some key aspects of life. That isn’t to say we should strive to lose those extra 15 pounds, read more books, or spend time in nature. All of those resolutions are admirable. However, if the end result is failure at the end of each year—you actually gained 10 pounds, barely read half of a comic book, and spent the majority of your free time sitting on your butt in front of the TV watching Seinfeld—what was the point?

That is why in 2018, I think the resolution we should all strive to complete is the cultivate an attitude of resolve. Eighteenth century preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards is probably most famously known for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” What Edwards is perhaps less known for—at least among Christians in general—are his resolutions. In fact, Edwards only lived by two resolutions with 70 points of resolve which helped him keep these resolutions throughout his life.

The focus of each resolution was, as Edwards put it, “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.” By far, this goal makes Edwards’ resolve more noble than our vain goal of losing some extra weight, huh? But again, his resolve was driven by two resolutions.

Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.

There are some lessons I believe we can learn from Edwards’ resolutions and the 70 resolves he placed himself under through the years. This isn’t because we need to achieve some higher level of spirituality, but because, as Edwards said, we are unable to do anything without God’s help. The following are three resolves of Jonathan Edwards that I believe would be fitting for all of us to resolve ourselves to in 2018.

Resolved: I will do whatsoever is most to God’s glory, and my own good

All of our life should be a striving toward the glory of God. Beyond that, we need to live our lives in a way that is beneficial for our own souls. Sometimes, making a decision to do this isn’t so easy. The unfortunate thing is that each of us fall into the temptation to be mediocre. Not that mediocrity is always a terrible thing, but mediocrity for the wrong reasons most definitely is.

Mediocrity can be good as far as it is concerned with our reputations. Being mediocre or ordinary should be something we strive for in this context. We should all simply look to love our families, share the gospel, die and be forgotten. That aspect of ordinary living is something to be admired and followed.

Mediocrity in the Christian life—where our spiritual lives are concerned—is harmful and concerning. If we are approaching our walk with God—reading the word, daily prayer, giving and fasting—with laissez-faire level enthusiasm, our souls will slowly die. That may sound extreme, but it is true. If we aren’t feeding our bodies, we will wither in strength and eventually die. Why do we believe the same to be any different where our souls are concerned?

Do all things to the glory of God, and for our own good.

Resolved: To live with all my might, while I do live

Similar to the previous resolution, we need to strive to live with all of our might. What does that mean, you might ask? Well, simply it means to not live in a “half-cocked” way in any aspect of life.

We are given a life to live, with a finite number of days. Let us not waste any single moment given. It sounds a bit cliche, but each day we are given is a gift from God. We are not guaranteed any morning or evening. The point Edwards is making—and which we need to apply to our lives—is that while God has granted us strength each new morning, we are to approach the day resolving to utilize that strength fully.

The reason to live with all of our might? Well, to bring glory to God and for our own good, of course.

Resolved: To never give up the fight against sin

I may have rephrased this resolve just a bit, but the idea is purely what Edwards was getting at. Edwards takes this idea further and says to not give up, “however unsuccessful I may be.” The goal isn’t perfection; if it were, you would drive yourself crazy. The unfortunate reality of life is that no matter how long we have been believers, no matter how strong our faith is—we are going to continue sinning.

Now, as we grow in maturity as believers, our sin will become more and more apparent to us. That is the encouraging part. The difficult pill to swallow is that as we begin to grow in maturity, we begin to realize just how wretched and unrighteous we truly are. We begin to realize more fully the depths of our depravity and our complete lack of holiness. But, that is the good news of the gospel—we don’t have to be righteous on our own merit.

That does not give us license, however, to give up the fight against sin. As Paul writes in Romans 6, should we continue to live and boast in our sins so grace can increase in us? Absolutely not! That viewpoint and state of the heart is contrary to the gospel. Our fight against sin will never end this side of eternity. That is the sad part. The good news is that the war against our sin has ultimately already been won. While we will never see the victory this side of death, we can live in victory—even in our defeats against moments of sin—because of what Christ accomplished.

While our job isn’t to win the war, it doesn’t mean we should remove ourselves from the fight.

 

To read a complete list of Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions, click here.

Until next Monday, afscheid.

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