Here we sit on the brink of a new year, a time seemingly to start over and reboot our life’s hard drive. I am notorious for starting resolutions and failing or forgetting them by the end of January. However, I think I’ve found a model worth following.
I recently read about one of my heroes. He lived some 300 years ago, and he knew the importance of setting a goal and sticking to it. His name was Jonathan Edwards, and when he was about 22-years-old he sat down and started a revolutionary list that plainly lay out his goals for a personal reformation. All-in-all, Edwards had 70 items on his list.
I know you’re thinking, if I can’t even hold to one resolution, why I would be inspired by a guy with 70 times as many? Allow me to tell you why Edwards invigorates me:
First off, he was young when he wrote his resolutions. It is inspiring to hear about a man even younger than me who understood the importance of analyzing life and was always seeking to improve.
But that’s another thing I love about Edwards – he didn’t just want to improve for his own acknowledgement, but he understood that the chief-end for his resolutions was to bring glory to God. At the beginning of his list, 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 … for Christ’s sake.”
This is revolutionary! Think about how many resolutions we have made that are so focused on us. “If I lose weight,” or “if I work out more,” or “if I study harder”… all are goals that are only going to bring us bragging rights. We must be like Edwards and understand that all of our personal motives must lead us to the one goal of glorifying God!
The other thing I love is that Edward’s resolutions were practical. He was very specific and wrote things like:
“I resolved to read Scripture steadily, consistently, and frequently…”
“I resolved to never do anything out of revenge…”
“I resolved to never speak anything that is ridiculous…”
As you can see, all of his resolutions were all Bible-based. As you read them, you can think of a Scripture to back up each one.
Finally, I loved that Edwards did not set these at the beginning of a year and leave them to fade into the gray matter of his mind. He continually added to them and made sure to review them weekly or as needed, so that he could be reminded of these God-minded goals.
So I’ve followed his example and written my own resolutions, and I am sure that I too will keep adding to them. I have made them practical, Bible-based, and with the goal in mind of glorifying God, not myself. I encourage you to do the same. Take some time to start your own list. Like Edwards, write on the top that you acknowledge they will all be broken if you don’t have the supernatural help of heaven.
Make a commitment to weekly read through your resolutions our own. I am going make it a routine part of my quiet time with the Lord. And a year from now, I hope I will be able to look back over 2010 and see that my resolutions helped me resound with 1 Corinthians 2:2 that says, “I resolved to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified.”