Resolutions are about doing better, improving ourselves, fulfilling personal goals, so it's no wonder that there's a tendency to be self-focused when making them. If you're like me you can almost lose sight of the forest for the trees. I mean, I might get so wrapped up in how much time I'm going to spend reading the Bible that I end up completely neglecting my children or snapping at my husband in order to fulfill my resolution. Edwards was determined to not lose sight of love in his resolutions. His love for others stemmed from his love for God and this love is reflected in many of his resolutions.
Resolution 13: "Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality." (Lawson p. 125)
I love that this great man of God was always on the look-out for ways to show love to others. And he understood love as truly seeking the best interest of others, not the giving of trivial tokens or flattery. For instance, one way Edwards sought to love others is by "trying to initiate conversations about spiritual things." "He believed he must be careful to capture opportunities to talk to others about God." (Lawson p. 126)
Resolution 14: "Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge." (Lawson p. 127)
Edwards had many occasions to try to implement this resolution since he struggled with relationships from his college days and even as a pastor. In school Edwards was so brilliant that he was not well-liked. Then later he suffered a church split and was even asked to step down from the pulpit. Edwards admitted that he lacked gentleness and wrote in his diary "a virtue which I need in a higher degree, to give a beauty and luster to my behavior, is gentleness. If I had more of an air of gentleness, I should be much mended." (Lawson p. 130) Again, we see Edwards was not a flawless individual, but he was always reflecting on ways to improve himself.
Resolution 33: "Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects." (Lawson p. 132)
In other words, he wasn't willing to sacrifice principle in order to keep the peace. "Such peace is no peace, only a momentary truce at the price of the truth." (Lawson p. 133)
Another diary entry shows Edwards' desire to be sensitive to others in his conversation. "Let there, in the general, be something of benevolence in all that I speak." (Lawson p. 136)
So Edwards showed love for others by endeavoring to share true Christian fellowship by talking with others about God and His Word, especially the gospel; by being a peacemaker; by guarding his heart against a vengeful attitude when others wronged him; and by trying to be gentle, kind, and sensitive in his speech.
It's hard to balance discipline with charity, is it not? Often those who are the most disciplined have to shove others out of the way on their way to reach their goals. As Christians, we must do both. We're running a race and that requires dedication, discipline, and endurance. However, Scripture is also clear that if we don't love others then the love of God is not in us. Jonathan Edwards resolved to never lose sight of love in his resolutions. We would also do well to remember that it will be lonely at the end of our race if we've forgotten what we're running for. For God so loved the world... He saved us out of love. Jesus summed up the 10 commandments saying to love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Love should guide us as we make our resolutions and as we try to live them out each day.