Should Christians make New Year Resolutions?

Because it's my first blog for the year I thought I would start by answering that age old question, should Christians make New Year Resolutions? When I was younger I used to be in the habit of making New Year resolutions. Like most people it was either to exercise more, eat less or find a better work life balance. Unfortunately these resolutions never seemed to last past the month of February. So in recent years I have shied away from making resolutions because God expects us to keep our promises – even if we make them only to ourselves (Psalm 15:4).

However, over the summer I have been reading some of the works of Jonathan Edwards.The renowned 18th-century American theologian and preacher, who is most famous for his involvement in the First Great Awakening and for his classic sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Edwards in my opinion was probably one of the most intellectually gifted Christians that has ever lived. At the age of 12 he entered Yale University and graduated a few years later at the top of his class – he then went on to study theology and become a minister. Anyway, reading Edwards has led me to revisit my former position on not making resolutions because shortly after leaving university at the tender age of 18 Edwards, being inspired by the apostle Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians 1:11,

"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power",

sat down and wrote a list of 70 resolutions on how he wanted to live his life - believing on the basis of 2 Thessalonians 1:11 that God wants us to make and keep Christ exalting resolutions through faith. Edwards' resolutions covered broad areas of life from time management to relationships; from spiritual growth to eating; from how he faced suffering to his devotional habits. Here's a few of his resolutions –which don't forget were written when he was only 18:

1. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

2.Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

3.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.

4.Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

5.Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

What you notice immediately about Edwards' resolutions is that they all resolve around pursuing God's glory or becoming more Christ like – not about getting the body beautiful at the gym. The other thing that stands out about Edward's resolutions is that they are permanent resolutions, not temporary ones. The resolutions Edwards made were not like the kind we make where we give up on them by February. Rather, his resolutions were lifetime goals. These were resolutions he used to shape his life to God's will and by which he measured himself. Unlike many of us today he kept regular track of his progress, journaling about his struggles and progress along the way. He reviewed his progress on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Praying that God would through faith give him the strength and resolve to see them through.

In light of the way God used Jonathan Edwards and the way he lived his life, suggests making resolutions that focus on exalting Christ and being more like him are something that every Christian should do. So why not start by resolving like me to make a few Christ exalting resolutions this year.


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