At a time when many people have just made (or are just breaking) their new year's resolutions, it may be helpful to consider a few of the seventy resolutions made almost three hundred years ago by the well-known preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards. The list was completed in August 1723, two months before Edwards' twentieth birthday.
  • 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...
  • Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
  • Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
  • Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one, so that it shall tend to his dishonour, more or less, upon no account, except for some real good.
  • Resolved, Never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my mother and father...
  • 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 safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer.
  • Resolved, Not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, and benignity.
Taken from The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Vol I)

Edwards acknowledged that he was unable to keep such resolutions in his own strength, but endeavoured to keep them in his mind by reading over them once a week, and prayed for God's help to live according to them.

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  1. 'That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.' Philipians 1:10-11

  2. Here’s a question for discussion: In the light of passages such as Numbers 30 (If a man makes a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth – v2), is it right for us to make resolutions which we know we are likely to fall short of at some point? Given the seriousness with which promises are viewed in the Bible, is it wiser for us to not make resolutions in the first place than to make them and not keep them?

  3. Naomi, what a great question - that has definitely made me think! :-)

    You make a good point about vows and oaths being taken seriously in the Bible. As well as the verses you sited, there's the story about Jepthah in Judges 11, where the Bible clearly says in verse 40 that he "did to her according to the vow". Vows were taken so seriously that he took his duaghter's life to fulfill it.

    In Matthew 5:33-37 Jesus talks about the seriousness of oaths and such, which to me says that this is something God is still concerned about! There's actually a lot in the New Testament letters about what we say with our words and I think it's part of being trustworthy. My parents never let my sisters and I make promises when we were little (and don't encourage us to, even now), because they have always said that our word needs to be reliable without an "I promise" on the front.

    I would say that New Year resolutions can be fairly dangerous - and what if you have bound yourself to 'do' something and God has a different plan for your year? However, I would definitely say that having goals is *very* important. If we aren't aiming for anything, we won't reach anything. Having goals motivates you forward and even if you don't reach those goals, there is a sense of achievement because you have still worked towards them.

    Setting unrealistic goals means you will always be doomed for failure and that isn't good. A wise person is going to prayerfully set goals that you think you can reach if you work hard - or you feel God wants you to try for any way.

    Any way, these are my ramblings! Hope they make sense. :-)


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