It is a new year and with that comes a time of excitement for what lies ahead and thankful for what is behind you. At the beginning of every year I try to look at goals and resolutions that I may have. I reflect on the ones I made the year before and look at how well I kept or failed with those resolutions.
What is it with a new year and thinking of a new start? The most common resolutions are to lose weight, quit some kind of addiction/habit like smoking, and getting out of debt. These are not bad but I try to focus more even on the root of the problem such as idolatry and a misguided heart.
Jonathan Edwards, the famous New England pastor and Theologian of the eighteenth century would always write and add to his resolutions. He ended with 99 different resolutions that he lived his life by.
I have chosen a few of his resolutions to focus in on for this year. (The numbers represent the order they appeared on his list).
#19-Resolved, never to do anything that I should be afraid to do if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trumpet.
Personally, I have never been physically close to death’s door but as a pastor, I have had my fair share of experiences of the death of others. At times it was expected because of their age or health. But, then there are the unexpected moments that an accident or unforeseen event took place. Either way, it is hard and when you are around death you can’t help but contemplate your life and purpose. Here Jonathan Edwards thought is not only about death but living in the moment of death. Would this be acceptable to God if I were to do this, talk this way, or think this way?
I want to live in such a way, every moment, where God will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)!
#34 Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except if I have some particular good call for it.
The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
I never thought of slander as speaking ill of someone which comes from a bitter heart. I thought of it as making a false allegation about someone. But as Paul points out, it is speaking ill from a bitter heart. There are times that I complain about someone or something they did. That is slander. And, sometimes my complaint is not just to myself but to other people. At that moment I not only slandered but also gossiped when it wasn’t necessarily needed.
This doesn’t mean that I assume that everyone is good nor calling someone out is wrong. What it does mean is that I will need to choose what I say more carefully. And, most importantly look within about the motive of why I am saying what I am saying. Does what I am saying glorify God? Does it help that person? Does it bring that person closer to the Lord? Will the person hearing this news be brought to glorify God?
#28 Resolved, to study Scripture so steadily and constantly and frequently as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
God’s word is Holy and inspired. It reveals to us the character of God and what He desires. The Bible shows us God’s heart for mankind. God’s word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path (Psa. 119:105).
Not only as a pastor but as a Christian I desire to know God more and the best way to do that is to study the Bible. As a Christian, I also desire to grow in understanding which comes by the Holy Spirit illuminating the Bible.
Do you spend time each day to read and study the Bible? I am thankful that this habit has been instilled in me early on in my Christian life.
#43 Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were on my own, but to act entirely and altogether God’s.
Our lives are in the hands of God. I can try to live independently of God but regardless of that, He is still in charge. As Jonathan Edwards wrote this resolution to live and act knowing that God is sovereign so should I. I am God’s child, His servant, and friend (Galatians 4:6; Mark 10:45; John 15:14).
Every breath I take is from God and he is aware of it. With every step I take, God knows. When we walk circumspectly as a Christian we are knowing that we are God’s and He has us in His hands.
These are just a few of the resolutions that I have written down for this year. I want to reflect on these often and then inwardly watch how I have followed or grown complacent in these areas.