“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,”
Happy New Year
We have just entered a new year, and you know what that means; it is time for everyone to make their new year’s resolutions. It’s time to get back in the gym to lose weight and get in shape. It’s time to get more organized. Maybe check off a few items from that bucket list. Save more money and drop a bad habit. The list can go on and on. We begin these resolutions with the best of intentions. We want to be healthier or be a better person – we start strong… or so we think, only to give up a month or so later. This attitude makes its way into our spiritual resolutions as well.
As Christians, we always begin the new year with a strong desire to read the bible more. To pray more. To love my neighbor as myself…grow closer to God. All good things. All I’m sure are began with good intentions. And yet, even those things which are to be common disciplines in the life of a believer are abandoned almost as quickly as they had begun. Why is that the case? I believe it happens for two reasons:
- We do not understand what it means to be resolved.
- We begin with the wrong motivation.
Let’s begin with defining terms such as resolved and resolution:
First, a resolution – a resolution is a firm decision to do or not do somethings. So, when we set out to make a resolution, we are simply deciding what we are or are not going to do. Next, resolved – to be resolved is to firmly determine to do something. We can also say that it is to be fixed or anchored. Not easily swayed from our decision. We are determined to accomplish that which we have decided to do. The resolution is an act of the mind. It is the decision. But the resolve to accomplish the decision is a posture of the heart. So, it is not just the mind that decides to do something, it is also the heart fixed upon accomplishing it.
Why does the believer abandon his resolution? Because he is not resolved. He is not anchored in his heart to accomplish his goal. Instead, his heart is fixed to the sinking sands of the world, which provide distractions and he is easily pulled off course. Thus, resolutions become more of a checklist of things we just want to do, but don’t really matter if they aren’t accomplished. Because we are not resolved we, therefore, have the wrong motivation. This leads us into the second point.
The “I” of Motivation
The reason we abandon our resolutions is we have the wrong motivation. The resolutions we as believers contrive are often rooted in selfish desires. Now, you may be asking, “how is it a selfish desire to read my bible more or to pray more?” Well, I would answer that question is another question, “what is your ‘why’ behind the ‘I?’” What is your reasoning for accomplishing your goals?
To understand what it means for the Christian to be resolved and to have the proper motivation to accomplish resolutions, it would benefit us to take a trip back to the resolutions of a young Jonathan Edwards. And of course, we cannot speak on resolutions without discussing Jonathan Edwards.
The Posture Our Heart Needs
The quote at the top is from the preamble to the 70 resolutions of Jonathan Edwards which he penned around the ages of 18-19. Jonathan Edwards at 18-19 years old is presenting his life in service to God. It is no wonder that God would later use Edwards to ignite the flame of the great awakening in America. What I want to do is look at this preamble to encourage you, the Christ follower to be resolved and to do with the proper motivation as we begin this new year.
In looking at this preamble, Edwards writes, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help.”
Let’s Park there for a moment:
- In our life we must understand as Edwards did the reality of John 15:5 where Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
- A branch that is detached from its source of growth and nourishment will not bear any fruit. And no fruit will be produced from our resolutions if we are not attached to our vine which is God.
- We can do absolutely nothing without the help of God.
Isn’t it often that we as Christians seek to accomplish everything by our own power? How silly is it of us to know that we have a helper with us, and yet ignore him in everything we attempt to accomplish? Instead, we must entreat Him or eagerly ask of His help. And we must do so in a humble manner. That is, being in full submission to Him.
The purpose for this is not that our will would be satisfied, but that God’s will would be satisfied. Therefore, Edwards says, “so far as they [his resolutions] are agreeable to His will.” He wants to do and accomplish nothing outside of the Will of God. He wants to make sure that the resolutions he pens are in alignment with the Will of God and not His own. His desire is to achieve God’s desires. And it is to be done, “for Christ’s sake.” And this is the banner that flies above these resolutions. For the purpose of Christ to be magnified. What glorious motivation. Is your goal for Christ to be magnified in your resolutions?
So, as you seek to make resolutions Jonathan Edwards has 70 you can choose from. Whatever your resolution, be resolved and approach them with the correct heart posture of accomplishing them for the glory of God and the sake of Christ Jesus.