Happy New Year!!
Normally, by the time I get through the extended holiday season, I have heard “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” all I need to. My dissatisfaction with those customary good wishes is that they are so often spoken thoughtlessly.
The same is often true of New Year’s resolutions. I typically stay away from New Year’s resolutions because they, also, are often offered carelessly. Or, too often, they are much to say about nothing. We flippantly resolve to lose ten pounds, when we need to zealously determine to be proper stewards of the bodies God has given us. Or, we frivolously resolve to be a better husband and father. But we are called to be the man God made us to be, willing to give our very lives for the benefit of our families. Lighthearted resolutions are not sufficient for serious Christians.
But what if we all determined to set meaningful, spiritual goals? And what if we each determined that we would recall, even reset those goals as often as need be to accomplish them? I read recently some resolutions that were set by well-known 18th century preacher, Jonathan Edwards.
Look with me at a few of the renowned preacher’s resolutions:
• to live with all my might while I do live;
• that I will do whatever I think to be most to the glory of God;
• never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can;
• never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
Heavy stuff, wouldn’t you say? No trivial weight loss resolutions in that collection. Nothing in that list falls into the category of petty preferences or insignificant issues. Rather, the great preacher made some weighty resolutions. And, he meant to keep those resolutions. Edwards made this as his first resolution: “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 [I will] remember to read over these resolutions once a week.”
There it is—the secret to meaningful, lasting resolutions. Most people who do make New Year’s resolutions can’t even remember those resolutions by February. But what if we determined to revisit our resolutions as often as necessary to permanently engrave them in our minds and write them on our hearts? What if we decided to make our resolutions, understanding that we can do nothing good or lasting apart from God working in and through us, but that, in Christ, we can do all things to His glory?
With that in mind, listen to a few more of Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions:
• to do whatever I think to be my duty;
• never do anything out of revenge;
• never to speak evil of anyone;
• 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.
Now, those are more practical. You and I can do that. And, we should. But Edwards resolved even more. And, you can read more of his commitment in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1. But reading those resolutions inspired me to rethink my own position on resolutions. My disdain for resolutions has more to do with the trivial nature of most resolutions than with the idea of making promises. I don’t mind hearing or making promises as long as there is genuine commitment in the pledges. I am, in fact, anxious to make, not only annual resolutions—I am willing to make weekly, even daily commitments to my Lord.
Following are some resolutions that I have made and I intend to remake as often as necessary throughout 2010:
• I intend to pray more in 2010 than I did in 2009;
• I intend to read and study my Bible more in 2010 than I did in 2009;
• I intend to invest in the lives of other Christians in the upcoming year;
• I intend to speak only truth and that which edifies in 2010.
Please don’t read anything into those statements. I pray every day, but this year I want to learn what it means to genuinely pray without ceasing. And, 2010 certainly will not be the first year that I have read through the Bible, but I am anxious to do it again and I am asking God to place His truth deep in my heart and open my mind to His mysteries. Also, the most rewarding aspect of pastoring was the investment I was able to make in the lives of church members. That’s what I miss most about serving in the local church. In 2010, I am looking to make a special investment in the lives and ministry of some of our younger Missouri Baptist pastors. Maybe God can use my age and experience to help and encourage others. Finally, I am convinced that He will do that as I speak truthful words that always build up and never tear down.
That’s my commitment to the Lord and to you.
Happy New Year!!