Friday, December 29, 2006

On Resolutions

I used to think that making resolutions toward holiness was a little goofy and perhaps could lead to self-righteousness. It seemed sorta in line with a lot of the fluffy Christian moralism stuff out there. Then I started reading more Jonathan Edwards, and I hopefully have come to have a little more balance. First, I realized that making personal resolutions, in so far as they are Biblically based, is really just a way to reflect upon God's Law. Second, I realized that people will take anything, even God's perfect Law, and make it the context for self-righteousness (enter... the Pharisees). Third, I realized, or perhaps realized afresh, that reflecting upon God's Law in a regular and personal way sends me constantly back to His mercy in Christ. Fourth, I realized that it is not "self-righteous" at all to love holiness and earnestly seek it (not that I really thought that, but there were things I hadn't yet worked out in my mind). In fact, if you have no hunger, no craving for holiness, out of love and hope and gratitutde (rather than for the sake of holiness itself or obtaining righteousness in His sight), then you don't know Him. You haven't been born again. You have no new spiritual life (John 3).

Anyway, check out Edwards' seventy (yes, 70) resolutions. This guy was a madman. I am humbled by his hunger for God and His ways.

Take this link here

I appreciate Edwards' comments to himself at the top, as well:

"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."

and

"Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week."

Humbling indeed! So, it might be kinda silly, because these are private, but for all four of the readers out there, maybe you will be inspired by my meager attempt to write up my own for personal reflection. They don't have half the thought that Edwards gave, I'm sure, and many of them jumped right out as I started to write. The list is growing, so I better paste before I have to type more... hehe :)

Here goes:

1. Resolved, to work in my present employment, whatever it is, as unto the Lord, with greatfulness, diligence, and prudence, not allowing myself to fall into distraction, no matter how noble or interesting or worthy those distractions seem.

2. Resolved, to use my time, in every circumstance, to the fullest measure, without squandering a moment, for the best good possible, doing my duties and serving others rather than myself, entrusting myself to Him who gives rest when rest is due.

3. Resolved, to teach my children the ways of God, His holiness, and His glory to the best of my ability, not shrinking back from identifying any sin or revealing God's holy hatred toward it -but so as to show God right and just in all His ways and judgments.

4. Resolved, to love my wife as Christ loved the Church -to give myself for her in accordance to her needs, to tend to her, to protect her, to pray for her, to minister to her, to teach her, to cherish her, and to give my body to her for her benefit and joy.

5. Resolved, to never speak or communicate with another out of sinful passions and excitements of emotion, no matter how right these excitements seem at the time, but that I would, instead, seek the Lord for humility and wisdom before speaking in such circumstances.

6. 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. (borrowed from the Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards, #8)

7. Resolved, to do nothing out of sinful anger, as though one not dare to offend me in such a way, but instead remember that I am a sinner, as well, whose whole dependence is upon the grace of God.

8. Resolved, to not correct my children out of sinful anger, as though I am principally the one offended and therefore seek retribution, but to instead correct them with the aim of restoring them and reminding them that God is offended by their sin, and I am merely His agent.

9. Resolved, to always consider the planks in my own eye before I even so much as begin to point at the speck in a brother's, even if I am not intending to go to him.

10. Resolved, to diligently seek the Lord's face so as to be increasingly aware of His majesty, my sinfulness, my ignorance of and distance from Him, and His all-suffiicient grace in Jesus Christ.

11. Resolved, to seriously endeavor to live to the glory of God and to enjoy Him, doing what I know is right and honoring to Him, in service to Him, at all times, whether in public or secret, and as special opportunities present themselves.

12. Resolved, to take time regularly to consider how unworthy I am of all that God has given me and continually provides for me and my family, and to give thanks to Him.

13. Resolved, to not complain when I am called to help another or perform a task that is, at the present time, inconvenient or undesirable, but that I would give thanks to God for the opportunity to serve others and seek Him for a joyful heart in so doing.

14. Resolved, to make it my daily business to put the death the deeds of the flesh, especially spiritual pride, remembering that such things are often silent and always deceitful.

15. Resolved, to never act or speak so as to seek my own glory and the praise of men.

16. Resolved, to never act or speak out of jealousy and to always fight against such evil passions in my heart when they arise, being content with the season and circumstances God has put me in.

17. Resolved, to seek what is good and pure and true that can be learned from any person or situation God puts in my life, no matter how disagreeable or seemingly insignificant.

18. Resolved, to prayerfuly consider each trial and struggle I endure as a sovereign gift from God meant to grow and build me up in Christ, and rejoice in it.

19. Resolved, to endeavor to identify and seek to destroy, by God's grace, all of those things that keep me from believing in the free acceptance I have in Christ and which, consequently, keep me from completely dying to myself and living for Him.


How am I doing with these? I'm a sinner!!! God be merciful!

5 comments:

Keith said...

Sucker! :-)

Keith said...

Tim, introspection is good for the soul ... as it makes us truly realize how helpless we are in trying to be as good as we imagine we might become without the Lord's daily and momentary enabling. Your resolutions are certainly not New Year's ones but life-long ones. May He be our Enabler.

Bob Waters said...

Two problems.

The first is that for sinners like us to make resolutions about our future behavior is presumptuous- unless it's "with God's help," and in that case striving for absolute moral perfection
would go without saying for a Christian.

The second is that our obedience isn't finally our doing at all, but God's in us. It's He Who works in us to will and to to. As Ephesians 2 points out, He prepared our good works beforehand, that we should walk in them.

It's not finally we who do our good works, but Christ in us. Rather than resolving to do the Holy Spirit's work for Him and grow ourselves in holiness, better to daily put the Old Self to death in repentance so that the New Self can arise again. In other words, to get out of God's way- and to stop seeing moral improvement and sanctification as accomplishments of our own, that we can aspire to. They're
God's doing in us!

Tim said...

Pastor Bob! Good to hear from you:

you said:
"The first is that for sinners like us to make resolutions about our future behavior is presumptuous- unless it's "with God's help," and in that case striving for absolute moral perfection
would go without saying for a Christian."

Agreed. Edwards did say "with God's help." I included that in the post up there. My take on the whole thing is not that the resolutions are meant to presume what we will be able to do, but to reflect God's Law personally in particular life situations. Thus, they are only as good as they are built upon the Law. Also, they are meant to reflect our aim (the heart's desire of the new man).


you also wrote:
"The second is that our obedience isn't finally our doing at all, but God's in us. It's He Who works in us to will and to to. As Ephesians 2 points out, He prepared our good works beforehand, that we should walk in them."

Sure, "that we should walk in them." We do the walking, but it is all His working in us. No problem here.

also:
"It's not finally we who do our good works, but Christ in us. Rather than resolving to do the Holy Spirit's work for Him and grow ourselves in holiness, better to daily put the Old Self to death in repentance so that the New Self can arise again. In other words, to get out of God's way- and to stop seeing moral improvement and sanctification as accomplishments of our own, that we can aspire to. They're God's doing in us!"

I don't see these resolutions (Law) as things meant to directly make us holier (cuz they won't). I see them as holding up God's perfect Standard, which the new man loves, and thereby keeping us in dependence on Christ, sending us back to Him, which is where we grow -faith being the "instrument" of sanctification as well as justification.

Tim said...

In other words, I agree that it would be a little silly to believe that I can sit down, read my resolutions, and actually make myself holier by trying really hard to keep them. I don't see them functioning in this way.

The Remedy is Jesus.