Why resolutions matter more than you think

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The new year is a time of faddish resolutions. More often than not they last until the first piece of cake enters our vision, or the first cold morning that prohibits our going to the gym as we promised ourselves. New years resolutions have relegated resolutions to the status of fortune cookies.

Looking back over the years I find that in my life many of the things I have done and not done where based in firm resolutions. Some of those things were good and well, others were done to make others think well of me. I now try to filter my resolutions through the lens of what will bring the most glory to God.

In a culture that has become increasingly jaded towards resolutions we need to be both clear about our convictions and increasingly depended on God’s grace to maintain the things that we are resolved to do.

One of the best pieces of advice my mother ever gave me as a young man was to “never trust my heart because it will betray me every time. You have to pre-choose what you  will do by God’s grace.” I found that it was God’s grace that helped me avoid things that I resolved to avoid.

Last year I came across the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards I found them convicting, clear, and compelling. I revisit them from time to time. They remind me of the basis that our resolutions must be found. We break our resolutions because we are weak, we overreach, we think we can will our way into a new version of ourselves. That always fails. We are what we are because of the grace of God alone. I hope the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards will help you see your need for daily grace that comes from loving and trusting Christ above all else.


Aware that I am unable to do
anything without God’s help, I do pray that, by his grace, he will
enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are in line with his
will, and that they will honor Christ.

NOTE: Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved:  I will DO whatever I think will be most to God’s glory;
and my own good, profit and pleasure, for as long as I live. I will do
all these things without any consideration of the time they take.
Resolved: to do whatever I understand to be my duty and will provide the
most good and benefit to mankind in general. Resolved to do this,
whatever difficulties I encounter, and no matter how many I experience
or how severe they may be.

2. Resolved: I will continually endeavor to find new ways to practice and promote the things from Resolution 1.

3. Resolved: If ever – really, whenever – I fail & fall and/or
grow weary & dull; whenever I begin to neglect the keeping of any
part of these Resolutions; I will repent of everything I can remember
that I have violated or neglected, …as soon as I come to my senses
again.

4. Resolved: Never to do anything, whether physically or spiritually,
except what glorifies God.  In fact, I resolve not only to this
commitment, but I resolve not to even grieve and gripe about these
things, …if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved: Never lose one moment of time; but seize the time to use it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved: To live with all my might, …while I do live

7. Resolved: Never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved: To act, in all respects, both in speaking and doing, as
if nobody had ever been as sinful as I am; and when I encounter sin in
others, I will feel (at least in my own mind& heart) as if I had
committed the same sins, or had the same weaknesses or failings as
others.  I will use the knowledge of their failings to promote nothing
but humility – even shame – in myself. I will use awareness of their
sinfulness and weakness only as an occasion to confess my own sins and
misery to God.

9. Resolved: To think much, on all occasions, about my own dying, and
of the common things which are involved with and surround death.

10. Resolved: When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom –
both of Jesus and of Believers around the world; and remind myself of
the reality of hell.

11. Resolved:  When I think of any theological question to be
resolved, I will immediately do whatever I can to solve it, … if
circumstances don’t hinder.

12. Resolved: If I find myself taking delight in any gratification of
pride or vanity, or on any other such empty virtue, I will immediately
discard this gratification.

13. Resolved: To be endeavoring to discover worthy objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved: Never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved: Never to suffer the least emotions of anger about irrational beings.

16. Resolved: Never to speak evil of anyone, except if it is necessary for some real good.

17. Resolved: I will live in such a way, as I will wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved: To live, at all times, in those ways I think are best
in me during my most spiritual moments and seasons – those times when I
have clearest understanding of the gospel and awareness of the World
that is to come.

19. Resolved: Never to do anything, which I would be afraid to do if I
expected it would not be more than an hour before I would hear the last
trump sound.  (i.e. when Jesus returns.)

20. Resolved: To maintain the wisest and healthiest practices in my eating and drinking.

21. Resolved: Never to do anything, which if I saw another do, I
would consider a just reason to despise him for, or to think in any way
lesser of him.

22. Resolved: To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in
the world to come as I possibly can.  To accomplish this I will use all
the strength, power, vigor, and vehemence – even violence – I am capable
of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved: Frequently take some deliberate action – something out
of the ordinary – and do it for the glory of God. Then I will trace my
intention back and try to discern my real and deepest motive: What did I
really desire out of it? If I find that my truest motive was not for
God’s glory, then I consider it as a breach of the 4th Resolution. (See
Above)

24. Resolved: Whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, I will
trace it back till I come to the original cause; and then I will
carefully endeavor BOTH 1) to do so no more AND 2) to fight and pray
with all my might against the source of the original impulse.

25. Resolved: To examine carefully, and constantly, what that one
thing in me is that causes me to doubt of the love of God, even the
least little bit; and then to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved: To oust away anything I find that diminishes my assurance of God’s love and grace.

27. Resolved: Never intentionally omit or neglect anything, except if
such an omission would be for the glory of God. NOTE to Self:
frequently examine anything I have omitted.

28. Resolved: To study the Scriptures so steadily, and so constantly,
and so frequently, that it becomes evident – even obvious – to
myself that my knowledge of them has grown.

29. Resolved: Never consider something a prayer, nor to let pass for a
prayer, any petition that when making I cannot actually hope that God
will answer; nor offer as a confession anything which I cannot hope God
will accept.

30. Resolved: To strive to my utmost every week to be brought to a
higher spiritual place, and to a greater experience of grace, than I was
the week before.

31. Resolved: Never to say anything at all against anybody; except
when to do so is perfectly consistent with the highest standards of
Christian honor and love to mankind; and except when it is consistent
with the sense of greatest humility and awareness of my own faults and
failings. Then, whenever I have said anything against anyone, I will
examine my words against the strictest test of the Golden Rule.

32. Resolved: To be strictly and firmly faithful to whatever God
entrusts to me.  My hope is that the saying in Proverbs 20.6,  “A
faithful man who can find?” may not be found to be even partly true of
me.

33. Resolved: Always do whatever I can towards making, maintaining,
establishing and preserving peace, whenever it can be, but without
over-balancing the value peace to such a degree that it becomes a
detriment in other respects.

34. Resolved: When telling stories, never to speak anything but the pure and simple truth.

35. Resolved: Whenever I so much as question whether I have done my
duty, to a point that my peace and tranquility is disturbed, I will stop
and question myself until my concern is resolved.

36. Resolved: Never to speak evil of anyone, except I have some particular good purpose for doing so.

37. Resolved: To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, where I
may have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and how I have
denied myself. I will also do this at the end of every week, month, and
year.

38. Resolved: Never to speak anything that is ridiculous, trivial, or
otherwise inappropriate on the Lord’s Day or Sabbath evening.

39. Resolved: Never to do anything when the lawfulness is
questionable. And then afterward, resolve to consider and examine
whether or not whatever I have just done is truly lawful and/or whether
whatever I have refrained from doing would have actually been
permissible.

40. Resolved: To inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I
have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and
drinking.

41. Resolved: To ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and
year, where I could have possibly done better in any respect.

42. Resolved: To frequently renew my dedication to God, which was
first made at my baptism and which I solemnly renewed when I was
received into the communion of the church; and which I have now solemnly
re-made this [DATE] day of [MONTH], [YEAR].

43. Resolved: Never, from this day until the day I die, act as if I
were in any way my own, but entirely and altogether belong to God, and
then live in a way agreeable to this reality.

44- Resolved: That nothing other than the gospel shall have any
influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, even
in the very least circumstance, anything other than gospel declares,
demands, and implies.

45. Resolved: Never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow,
nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any
circumstance, but what advances the gospel.

46. Resolved: Never allow the least measure of any fretting or
uneasiness about my father or mother. Resolved to never allow the
effects of disappointment in them, or frustrations with them, to even in
the very least alter what I say to them or about them, or any activity
in reaction to them.  Let me be careful about this, not only about my
parents, but also with respect to any of our family.

47. Resolved: To endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most
agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peace
able, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest,
submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even,
patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times
what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week,
whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.

48. Resolved: With the utmost niceness and diligence, and with the
strictest scrutiny, constantly be looking into the state condition of my
soul, so that I may know whether or not I have truly an interest in
Christ at any given time. I will do this so that, when I come to my end
in death, I will not have neglected to repent of anything I have found.

49. Resolved: That Neglect never shall be, if I can help it.

50. Resolved: I will act in such a way as I think I will judge to
have been best and most prudent, when I have come into the future world –
Heaven.

51. Resolved: That I will act in every respect, as I think I would
wish I had done, if in the end for some reason I would have be damned.

52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if
they were to live their lives over again, so… Resolved: That I will live
just as I can imagine I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old
age.

53. 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 eternal safety, knowing
that my confidence is in my Redeemer.

54. Resolved: Whenever I hear anything spoken in a conversation of
any person, if I think what is said of that person would be praiseworthy
in me, I will endeavor to imitate it.

55. Resolved: To endeavor to my utmost to act as I can imagine I
would if I had already seen all the happiness of heaven, as well as the
torments of hell.

56. Resolved: Never to give up, nor even slacken up, in my fight with
my own corruptions, no matter how successful or unsuccessful I may be.

57. Resolved: When I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine
whether I have done all I am expected to do, and resolve to do
everything I am able to do.  Once I have done all that God requires of
me, I will accept whatever comes my way, and accept that it is just as
God’s Providence has ordered it.  I will, as far as I can, be concerned
about nothing but my own duty and my own sin.

58. Resolved: Not only to refrain from an air of dislike,
fretfulness, and anger in conversations, but also to exhibit an air of
love, cheerfulness and graciousness.

59. Resolved: Whenever I am most conscious of feelings of ill nature,
bad attitude, and/or anger, I will strive then the most to feel and act
good naturedly.  At such times I know I may feel that to exhibit good
nature might seem in some respects to be to my own immediate
disadvantage, but I will nevertheless act in a way that is gracious,
realizing that to do otherwise would be imprudent at other times (i.e.
times when I am not feeling so irked).

60. Resolved: Whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out
of sorts, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within my own
heart and/or soul, or the least irregularity in my behavior, I will
immediately subject myself to the strictest examination. (i.e. Psalm 42.11)

61. Resolved:  I will not give way to that apathy and listlessness
which I find artificially eases and relaxes my mind from being fully and
fixedly set on God’s Grace. Whatever excuses I may have for it,
whatever my listlessness inclines me to do, or rather whatever it
inclines me to neglect doing, I will realize that it would actually be
best for me to do these things.

62. Resolved: Never to do anything but what God, by the Law of Love,
requires me to do. And then, according to Ephesians 6.6-8, I must do it
willingly and cheerfully as to the Lord, and not for man.  I must remember
that whatever good thing any man has or does he has first received from God;
and that whenever a man is compelled by faith to act with love and charity
toward others, especially those in need, that we do it as if to/for the Lord.

63. On the hypothetical supposition that at any one time there was
never to be but ONE individual in the world who was a genuine and
complete Christian, who in all respects always demonstrated the Faith
shining in its truest luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from
whatever angle and under whatever circumstance this Faith is viewed…
Resolved: To act just as I would do, if I strove with all my strength,
to be that ONE; and to live as if that ONE should live in my time and
place.

64. Resolved: Whenever I experience those “groanings which cannot be uttered”
(Romans 8.26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those “longings” that consume our
souls, of which the Psalmist speaks (Psalm 119:20), I will embrace them with
everything I have within me. And I will not beweary of earnestly endeavoring to
express my desires, nor of the repetitions so often necessary to express them and
benefit from them.

65. Resolved: To exercise myself in all my life long, with the
greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay
open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows,
fears, hopes, desires; and every thing in every circumstance.

66. Resolved:  I will endeavor always to keep a gracious demeanor,
and air of acting and speaking in all places and in all companies,
except if it should so happen that faithfulness requires otherwise.

67. Resolved: After afflictions, to inquire in what ways I am now the
better for having experienced them. What good have I received by them?
What benefits and insights do I now have because of them?

68. Resolved: To confess honestly to myself all that I find in myself
– whether weakness or sin. And if it something that concerns my
spiritual health, I will also confess the whole case to God, and implore
him for all needed help.

69. Resolved: Always to do that which I will wish I had done whenever I see others do it.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak.

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