(A re-post, with this year’s revisions.)
New Year’s Day is a good time to think about where we’ve been and what lies ahead in the coming year. Today, many will be setting New Year’s Resolutions in hopes for better days ahead, but it’s well-known that most of these short-term goals will be short-lived. But what if we had a longer-term look at the things we need to change?
A few years ago, I was challenged by reading The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, by Steven J Lawson. It highlights the determination/focus of Jonathan Edwards, one of my heroes of the faith. This man from the 1700s was a spiritual giant, a great evangelist, and an intellectual genius (he was a President of Princeton) who has also been called the greatest theologian America ever produced. This is someone to learn from! While still a teenager, Jonathan carefully crafted seventy Resolutions that he would live out during his entire life. They are amazing to read, in fact, click here to read them now! They make most of our New Year’s Resolutions seem shallow by comparison!
Reading Edwards’ resolutions made me resolve to come up with my own Lifelong Resolution list, which I’ve been working on over the past few years and revising annually. Jan 1st is a good time to re-post them in their latest form.
Here then, in the spirit of Jonathan Edwards, is my updated list of my Forty Life Resolutions.
MY FORTY LIFE RESOLUTIONS
Note: I do not claim to yet be living out all of these resolutions consistently in my life. They are more statements of intent — the things I want to be realities in my life.
Revised Jan 1, 2019
PREAMBLE: (adapted from Edwards) Aware that “apart from Him I can do nothing” I humbly entreat God by His grace to enable me to keep these resolutions, as much as they align with His will.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HEART
- Resolved that my primary delight be in God alone, irrespective of my circumstances, regarding Him as my only true need.
- Resolved to view His Word as a chest full of treasures providing spiritual riches, and to partake of that Treasure consistently–daily when possible.
- Resolved to attentively listen to the voice of God by whatever means God would speak—general or special revelation—and not to limit God’s channels by my narrow thinking, prejudices, and assumptions.
- Resolved to make personal prayer a lifeline priority—surrendering myself to His service and pursuing relational intimacy with Him and surrendering myself to His service.
- I aspire to seek to love God with my emotions, fighting against my natural tendency toward stoicism and intellectualism.
- Resolved to regularly pray “Thy Kingdom Come,” interceding for God to bring His justice and abundant provision and the proclamation of the Gospel to all His creation.
- Resolved to increasingly develop and portray a longing for heaven and to maintain an eternal perspective.
- I intend to allow any discomfort, suffering, or mistreatment I experience to deepen my appreciation of the suffering Jesus embraced for me. (Philippians 3:10)
- I intend to sacrifice my life willingly and gladly if God directs.
- Resolved to be a faithful husband to Cindy until death, dedicating my eyes, my body, and my affections to her alone out of obedience to Christ. I will seek ways to put her wants before my own.
- Resolved to have absolutely no secrets of any kind in my personal life. I will fully disclose all my areas of weakness to trusted friends that they may hold me accountable — that I may always be a man of complete authenticity and integrity.
- Resolved to be at peace with all men as far as it depends on me, (Rom 12:18) meaning to me that there should be no one on the planet to whom I would not gladly share a meal.
- Resolved always to treat every person with a heart of respect regardless of how much I may like or dislike that person’s personality, values, or behavior. I will take special care to show extra love and respect to those whom evangelical Christians and others have historically mistreated such as gays, atheists, liberals, the disabled, people of other religions & those society would call “ugly”.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HEAD
- Resolved to be continuously attentive to my weaknesses, that I may surrender them to Christ’s mercy and transforming power, but not so obsessed with them that they distract my attention from God thus becoming an idol.
- Resolved to hold my loved ones loosely: never presuming upon Gods propensity to bless, but rather viewing them always as a temporary privilege and never as an entitlement.
- Resolved, like Paul in Philippians 4, to be content with and thankful for whatever God gives me: whether prosperity or adversity, comfort or suffering, joy or sorrow, sickness or health, abundance or scarcity.
- I intend to gladly submit to any injustice done to me without claiming my so-called “rights” just as Jesus modeled. (1 Peter 2:21-25)
- Resolved to protect and preserve my life only as much as is prudent and a matter of reasonable stewarding of the brief earthly life God has granted me.
- Resolved never to hold a grudge against, seek revenge from, nor to rejoice at the misfortune of anyone who may have wronged me or surpassed me in achievement.
- Resolved to never take personal offense at anyone, knowing that given the same circumstances and apart from the grace of God I would have treated myself likewise.
- Resolved to recognize that we live in a spiritual as well as physical world and that our true battle is not against flesh and blood but is fought through prayer in the unseen spiritual realm. (Eph 6:12)
- Resolved to be a lifelong thinker, learner and reader so that I may continuously challenge my own perspective and worldview. I want my faith to be an intelligent one and one that recognizes truth, wherever it may be found.
- Resolved to never put my hope in political parties, governments, ideologies, personalities, or in anything other than God Himself and His church insofar as it submits to His headship.
- Resolved to care very little about fashion, fads, trends, pop culture, amusements, or technologies except as they serve to advance what I perceive to be the purposes of God in my life, i.e. being in the world, but not of the world. (John 17:15-16)
- Resolved never to judge anyone inwardly or outwardly to whom God might hold to a different standard in these matters of asceticism, spiritual disciplines, fitness, finances, and lifestyle. (1 Cor 7:17)
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HABITS
- Resolved, like Jonathan Edwards in his 63rd Resolution, to seek to behave in the same way as if I were aspiring to be the godliest person in my generation. (1 Cor 9:24)
- Resolved to live an authentic, exemplary life worthy of imitation as I seek to imitate Christ. (1 Cor 11:1)
- As long as I’m physically able, resolved to keep my body in excellent physical condition as a matter of stewardship and enjoyment, but not of vanity or condescension.
- Resolved to surrender my natural inclinations toward laziness and comfort-seeking and instead rely on God to transform me into a diligent, proactive, risk-taker, who generally seeks out hard things rather than easy ones.
- Resolved to keep under control my God-given appetite for food and to always remain thin as an outward display of my inward convictions to live an ascetic lifestyle of contentment, moderation, and restraint.
- Resolved to surrender to Christ my natural tendency toward introversion that I may better influence others by proactively investing my life in them.
- Resolved to fight against my natural lack of proficiency at remembering names, faces, and details; i.e. to sharpen my mind and take extra effort to remember, allowing me to better honor and influence.
- Resolved to faithfully and regularly intercede for those individuals that God has put in my circles of influence and awareness, praying God-sized prayers, expecting the miraculous, as frequently as I perceive Him to direct.
- Resolved to be highly influential in the lives of those around me as I seek ways to encourage, inspire, and equip them to grow in goodness and godliness.
- I aspire to be honest, direct, and prompt to hold crucial conversations and confrontations rather than resorting to silence (as is my tendency).
- Resolved to continuously strive to improve in my effectiveness as a highly involved husband, father, son, relative, friend, and pastor/employee.
- Resolved to be a reasonably and responsibly engaged citizen in whatever country, state, city, and neighborhood God may place me in.
- Resolved to strive to remain debt-free (except in the matter of love, Romans 13:8) and to generously give away as much as I reasonably can, considering my obligations to love and provide for my family and those who would benefit from our hospitality.
- I aspire to bear as much fruit as I reasonably can, storing up treasures in heaven in order to reap a bountiful eternal harvest. (Matt 6:19-21)
- Resolved to stay attentive to keeping these resolutions for the duration of my life that I may finish well to the very end and hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” (Matt 25:20-21)
One final, but important section must be added to communicate the attitude of Jonathan Edwards towards the resolutions that he set.
Edwards recognized that sheer will power alone is useless in keeping any such resolutions. God has to do it—we are unable. The book mentioned above includes quotations from his journal, reflecting on how he viewed them and lived them out. Here are some excerpts.
“If God should withdraw His Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself.”
“But alas, how soon do I decay! O how weak, how infirm, how unable to do anything of myself! What a poor inconsistent being! What a miserable wretch, without the assistance of the Spirit of God…How weak do I find myself! O let it teach me to depend less on myself, to be more humble.”
“Our resolutions may be at the highest one day, and yet, the next day we may be in a miserable dead condition, not at all like the same person who resolved. So that it is to no purpose to resolve, except that we depend on the grace of God. For if it were not for is mere grace, one might be a very good man one day, and a very wicked one the next.”
May this be the attitude of all who set resolutions of any kind, whether they be for the New Year or for the rest of life! Only then can we hope to accomplish them!