“I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” – John 17:4.
Jonathan Edwards is widely regarded as one of America’s most important theologians. He wrote a whole lot of resolutions/goals, seventy of them, from 1722 to 1723. At this time, Jonathan Edwards is nineteen years old. He’s completing his MA at Yale, while also doing a brief stint as a pastor of a church in New York City. During the few months he is there, he’s thinking about what he wants his life to be about.
Before Edwards wrote his first resolution, he penned a preface that served as the foundation for the resolutions to come.“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.” There are several things that jump out of this preface. One is his recognition that he will not be able to keep these resolutions on his own. And because of that, he appeals to God’s help and God’s grace. Secondly, he wants God’s grace to be at work with him.
The number one resolution is this: “Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and to my own good, profit, and pleasure.” He adds, “Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.” His first resolution is to live a life that is for God’s glory and that will do the most good. Even in the 17th-century people were worried about time. Resolution five says, “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” He resolves to squeeze every moment of the precious time that we have. Another resolution has to do with his commitment to Scripture and reading Scripture. In number twenty-eight, Edwards writes, “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.” He’s committing himself to study God’s Word.
And finally, resolution 53 says, “Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.”
Did these 70 resolutions happen overnight? Was this an easy task? Absolutely not, but it was a steady pursuit of God that brought about an indelible mark on his own heart, his own family, and our nation as a whole. Develop your spiritual goals for the upcoming year. Be specific in what you want to accomplish. It’s never too late to walk in the right direction and make new commitments that will have a lasting impact on you and on others. You can’t do it in one day, but what will happen if you live for the next 365 days with a Christ-exalting purpose?
Note: If you wish to read all 70 Jonathan Edwards resolutions you can go to John Piper’s Desiring God website using this link: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-resolutions-of-jonathan-edwards. There are also sites that have modernized the language to benefit today’s readers.
- How would you like to change in 2020 and in this decade? Are your goals aimed at making those changes?
- Jonathan Edwards had 70 resolutions: How many do you think you need in 2020? For the next decade?