Ok, I’ll admit that this is a repeat of a post from last year from another blog I sometimes managed. But, I’m still a fan of the concept, and it would seem it is worth repeating. For context, I had previously, on that other sometimes managed blog, I mentioned ever so briefly (with scant little in the way of explanation) that I was not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions, but rather commitments. Perhaps it could be argued that it is just a matter of syntax, or measure of degrees, but whatever tension that may exist between the two word choices, I still prefer to hold to New Year’s commitments. It is likely that you have had similar observations that I have had when it comes to New Year’s resolutions: they are usually brought on by guilt, regret, or shame, and they rarely last beyond Groundhog Day. Rare is it they that have been truly thought over, even more rare that they have been prayed over. Still rarer than that, are those that would have a God-focused quality to them.
As much as I dislike resolutions, I do like the idea of being resolved. Again, the tension in wording exists, but I think the difference notable.
In the 1828 version of Noah Webster’s dictionary (which you really should get, and I highly recommend you order it from Vision Forum) Webster defines resolve this way:
- As a verb: To fix in opinion or purpose; to determine in mind.
- As a noun: Fixed purpose of mind; settled determination; resolution.
For those of you who think you are going to catch me in an error by mentioning the fact that Webster uses the word resolution, let me say this: if we, in our current culture, used the word resolution the way those in the 1800’s (and the 1700’s, as you will see below) chose to do so, then there is no problem. However, our culture, and their understanding of resolve (and subsequently resolution) has diluted this word so much that when most people think of New Year’s resolutions, the sum effect of that statement is to really say “here are some things that I probably should work on, and I hope to be able to do them.” Does that sound like a “fixed purpose of mind” or “settled determination”? Methinks not.
You may be asking “what is the point of this entry?” which is a good question. Sometime within the next 36-48 hours, I will set aside time to establish goals and commitments for myself and for my family. It’s hard to do that this time of year without hearing the word resolution clamoring for attention in your mind. Noting my affinity for being resolved, my mind was drawn to one of my heroes of the faith, Jonathan Edwards. As he entered into a preparatory period for public ministry, he spent several months in his father’s home. While there, he crafted a list of 70 resolutions (the 1700’s understanding of that word) to serve as standards for his own life. I share with you here just a few though the rest can easily be found.
- 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.
- Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God and own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good of mankind in general. Resolved, so to do, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many soever, and how great soever.
- Resolved, To be continually endeavoring to find out some new contrivance and invention to promote the fore-mentioned things.
- Resolved, If I ever shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
- 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 possibly avoid it.
- Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
- Resolved, To live with all my might while I do live.
- Resolved, Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
- Resolved, To act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.
- Resolved, To think much, on all occasions, of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
- Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom and of hell.
I would ask of you the same I would ask of myself – how do my New Year’s commitments stand up to these? Keep in mind, this is just 1/7th of what Edwards resolved himself to do. I certainly see room to grow within my own goals for the upcoming year. How about you?