Sunday, December 27, 2009


Naturally since we’re about to begin a new year, and since my life has degenerated on all fronts over the last few days of holiday (I wore my pajamas for 2 days straight. The same ones. And eaten a steady diet of toffee, peanut brittle, and other assorted Christmas goodies.), I’ve had resolutions on the brain. I read the book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven J. Lawson last summer and it rocked my world. As I read through the little book, it brought many highs and lows. I was so challenged by it on the one hand, and so utterly disgusted with myself on the other. I congratulate myself for trying to steer clear of sin (you know, at least avoid the obvious ones) and here is a man who determined to decide each day between good, better, and best. Forget sin, he was concerned about being the best he could be each day. For example, I try to keep from getting fat because well, I don’t want to be fat, and oh, gluttony is also a sin. Edwards also watched what he ate, but for different reasons. Edwards actually measured his food and experimented to learn just how little he could eat without being too weak to carry out all his pastoral duties and still get the best use out of his mind. He noticed that eating too much and even eating at certain times made him lethargic and tempted him to sin by being lazy. Wow. I think too many cookies = fat. He thought too many cookies = sub-par service to the Lord. See the difference? Now apply that to every area of your life and you have some idea of Jonathan Edwards 70 resolutions. Yes, 70. And he read them over once a week to keep them always before him.

He also reviewed and analyzed the degree to which he was keeping his resolutions. He actually quantitated his progress so he could compare his success from month to month and year to year. For those of you who don’t know what that means, he used numbers to calculate how well he was doing. He implemented a grading system! Are you exhausted yet? Oh, and I forgot to mention that he was only 18 and 19 and a new believer when he wrote them. What were you doing when you were 18? And he reviewed them for the rest of his life!!!

I don’t know about you, but I usually keep my New Year’s resolutions for about 2 weeks. My mom says it takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so I guess that’s my problem. If I could just hold on for one more week maybe I could keep it up for the rest of my life. Ok, back to Jonathan Edwards. You might be wondering why in the world did he do all that? Didn’t he know that we’re saved by grace? The answer to the second question is “yes”. In fact, he understood that not only are we saved by grace, but that the degree to which he would be able to successfully keep his resolutions also depended on the grace of God. “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.” (from Edward’s preamble to his resolutions) And also from his journal Jan. 2, 1722 “I perceive if God should withdraw His Spirit a little more, I should not hesitate to break my resolutions, and should soon arrive at my old state. There is no dependence on myself.” The answer to the first question then, of why he wrote his resolutions is that he wanted them to serve as purpose statements to direct him on his Christian journey. “Edwards consecrated himself in all things in order to glorify God and gain the incorruptible crown.” (Lawson p. xiii) His two-pronged goal with his resolutions was that he wanted to keep his spiritual priorities always before him, and he wanted his resolutions to serve as guidelines for self-examination. In other words, he wanted them to help make him holy. He wanted to live his life to the utmost for the glory of God.

Did it work for Jonathan Edwards? Well, in short, yes. He didn’t live a very long life (55 yrs), but he left a legacy of godliness that helped shape America over the next 100+ years. Edwards was a pastor, theologian, philosopher, university president (for 5 weeks) and left an indelible mark on our nation. His descendants include 300 clergymen, missionaries, and professors of theology; 120 college professors; 110 lawyers; over 60 physicians; more than 60 authors of good books; 30 judges; 14 presidents of universities; numerous giants in American industry; 80 holders of major public office; 3 mayors of large cities; 3 governors; 3 U.S. senators; one chaplain of the U.S. Senate; one comptroller of the U.S. Treasury; and one vice president of the United States. He’s heralded by many as the most influential single figure in American Christianity until the 20th century. It’s hard to measure success in the Christian life, though. His church certainly didn’t appreciate him, as he suffered a big church split and then was asked to step down from the pulpit. He lived out much of his life in relative obscurity ministering among a group of Native Americans. He used the time to write and left us with many works, the most influential of which were Religious Affections, Freedom of the Will, and The Nature of True Virtue.

Now that you’re primed for more Edwards, you’ll have to tune in next time to learn just what these resolutions were that helped make this man so great.


  1. Very interesting. I'm definitely coming back to hear more. I might have to get the book. :)

  2. What an amazing man, and an amazing example.



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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.