ResolvedBy Jim Daly
Did you make New Year’s resolutions?
By the time the ball dropped in New York City’s Times Square, millions of Americans had compiled their lists.
Many of the changes we want to make are strictly practical – everything from losing a few pounds to keeping our cars and closets better organized. But some resolutions may delve a bit deeper. When I was looking for new ways to study God’s Word as I drove and traveled, I hit upon the idea of listening to the Bible on CD. This has been one of the best decisions I ever made, and I highly recommend it. The discipline has strengthened my understanding of the Christian faith.
When you think about it, this kind of change and growth lies at the heart of our Christian walk. Each of us is a work in progress. We should always be growing and changing. Jesus lived a perfect life in a fallen world to show us the way. But He does more than just show us – He will actually mold us if we let Him.
It was the prophet Isaiah who wrote, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
As we turn the page on 2014 and look with anticipation toward 2015, I want to share something with you from the renowned theologian, preacher, and author, Jonathan Edwards. During the course of his lifetime, Edwards drew up a catalogue of no fewer than seventy resolutions, many of which were written when he was only nineteen years old. I won’t attempt to give you the whole list here, but I would like to draw your attention to three that I find particularly meaningful:
#1. Resolved. That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, 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 myriads 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, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.This first resolution comes straight out of the pages of Scripture. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,” writes Paul, “do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In another passage the same apostle exhorts us, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Jesus communicated the same thought when He summed up the Law as love – first for God and then for our neighbors. I can’t think of a better rule for living.
#8. Resolved. To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings, as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.Upon seeing a group of criminals led away to execution, English reformer and martyr John Bradford (1510–1555) is reputed to have said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Edwards was thinking along the same lines when he penned his eighth resolution. Instead of judging and condemning others, he wanted to use their sins and faults as a springboard to honest self-examination. We can all benefit by his example.
#67. Resolved. After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them; what good I have got by them; and what I might have got by them.It was Socrates who said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Trials and tribulations are a standard part of the normal Christian life, but it’s all just useless water under the bridge unless we take time to think about the lessons these hardships can teach us. Only at this point does “the testing of our faith develop perseverance” (James 1:3).
I hope you’ve found these reflections as thought-provoking as I have. If these brief excerpts have whetted your appetite for more, you can find Edwards’s entire list of resolutions here. Here’s to a happy and Christ-centered New Year! God’s richest blessings to all!
Copyright © 2015 by Jim Daly. Used by permission.
Jim Daly is a husband, father and President of Focus on the Family and host of its National Radio Hall of Fame broadcast. His blog, Daly Focus, is full of timely commentary and wisdom designed to help you navigate and understand today’s culture. His latest book is The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be.