Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Resolutions that make the most of your time

If you’ve been following my mini-series on resolutions, for which I’m relying heavily on Steve Lawson’s book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, you know we’ve already seen reflected in Edwards’ resolutions his commitment to the pursuit of God’s glory and putting away sin. Today I hope we will be challenged and inspired by how Jonathan Edwards made use of his time.

This is something I struggle with, as I sit at my computer, making the most of my time. Do you know anyone like Roan of The Joyful Johnsons who can get so much accomplished on a given day it wears you out just reading her to-do list? Doesn’t it seem like these industrious souls have been given more time somehow than the rest of us? Well, we know that’s not possible, but sometimes it seems like it anyway. Edwards wrote much on his use of time because he realized that while lost money and health can potentially be recovered, time lost never can.

Resolution 5: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” (Lawson p. 95)

Lawson explains that when Edwards penned this resolution he was completing a master’s degree, serving as interim pastor, and pursuing many interests such as the natural sciences. “So zealous was Edwards to improve his use of time that he calculated ways to gain minutes from tasks large and small.” (Lawson p. 95) (I felt somewhat vindicated that Edwards wasn't feeding people 3 times a day, or homeschooling or potty training anyone.)

Edwards prioritized time according to the will of God and also scheduled certain matters like prayer and study for times of the day when he was most alert. This rigorous prioritization required that he devote less time to other tasks that had to be done nonetheless, those he called “the tyranny of the urgent”, and to entirely neglect less important matters. He made these difficult decisions by keeping in mind the brevity of life.

Resolution 7: “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.” (Lawson p. 96)

You know that country song, “Live like you’re dying”, or something like that? That’s the idea. If I knew I had one year to live would I really want to spend it traveling the world or sky diving, or would I want to value each precious moment with my family and study God’s Word and pray all the more fervently with the knowledge that I would soon be meeting my Maker?

Resolution 19: “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.” (Lawson p. 100)

And as you can imagine, Edwards was NOT a procrastinator. He believed that delayed obedience is no obedience. (I’m quick to remind my kids of this, but all too often I neglect to apply it in my own life.)

Resolution 11: “Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don’t hinder.” ( Lawson p. 98)

Really, Edwards thought of his life on earth as a training grounds for all eternity.

Resolution 50: “Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, most prudent, when I come into the future world.” (Lawson p. 101)

In his diary he wrote of his struggle to keep his eyes fixed on heaven. “Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fullness of joy…” (Lawson p. 102) Edwards felt keeping his heart focused on heaven would help him to better live for God’s glory in the present.

Resolution 52: “I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.” (Lawson p. 103)

Pondering the imminence of either his death or Christ’s return also helped Edwards keep materialism in check.

“Let every thing have the value now which it will have upon a sick bed; and frequently, in my pursuits of whatever kind, let this question come into my mind. ‘How much shall I value this upon my death-bed?’” (Lawson p. 97)

I hope to follow Edwards example as I make my New Year’s resolutions and prioritize first things first. C.S. Lewis once said, “When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” (The Quotable Lewis edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root p. 411) That’s what I’m counting on!


  1. Thank you so much for your series on this book. We have so easily lost the discipline on the Christian life in our modern day lives. Definitely writing out a list of some of my own "resolves" for the year ahead.

  2. Thank you Erin. I'm glad you're enjoying it!

  3. Thank you for reminding us of Edward's resolutions. They are very applicable for us today. I remember when I first became a Christian in September of 2001, I purchased and read with much fervency, Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions and became inspired to have good and godly resolutions. As I have been writing my own posts about putting to death certain sins and is God in control and is Christ reigning I have been giving much thought as to what should be my resolutions for this next year. I believe that we should catagorize our resolutions and definately place them in order of importance realizing that our goal in life is to glorify God in all things and to enjoy Him forever.



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.