As we push into January, a familiar behavior is seen. Many well-intentioned resolutions are made by millions of people, young and old. A recent survey by Forbes reveals the most frequently made resolutions for 2024.

  • Improve fitness (48%)
  • Improve finances (38%)
  • Improve mental health (36%)
  • Lose weight (34%)
  • Improve diet (32%)
  • Make more time for loved ones (25%)
  • Stop smoking (12%)
  • Learn a new skill (9%)

Notice how these goals for the vast majority of Americans are all about personal improvement. And because resolutions are largely centered on self-improvement, some argue against any form of resolution making, asserting that crafting personal lists isn’t necessary when the Bible itself outlines God's resolutions for His people. Yet, as we contemplate glorifying God in our lives in the new year, this seem to me to be the real question we should consider: Is it appropriate to establish and keep certain priorities and principles, be it through resolutions or a constant pursuit of biblical living?

My view is that it remains biblically justifiable to resolve to prioritize certain values. The emphasis, however, should be on seeking the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to live in accordance with God's will, rather than pursuing human goals. Regardless of the timing, whether at the beginning of a new year or throughout its course, our goal as believers is to serve others faithfully and bring glory to God in all aspects of life.

Historically, there is an inspiring example in the life of American theologian Jonathan Edwards. Who as a young man boldly acknowledged his weaknesses and the destructive nature of sin. He paved the way for us with seventy resolutions, prefaced by the following humble plea for God's grace to uphold them according to His will and for Christ's sake. Edwards' approach provides a valuable template for anyone seeking to glorify God in our churches, our homes, and our hearts. Here are his words.

“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.” I believe these are the main points he’s making. First and foremost, any resolutions we make should be sensible, grounded in reason and a thorough study of God's Word. Prayerfully consider your resolutions and how they align with God's Word, allowing us to fulfill our unique callings in life while having a positive impact on the world.

Furthermore, resolutions must always be made dependently, acknowledging our inability to accomplish anything without God's help. This dependency on God's strength must be continuous, so we don’t give in to the worldly notion that we can go it alone, if only we’re strong enough.

Humbling ourselves is the third aspect Edwards highlights, emphasizing the need to approach God with humility. Resolutions should never be taken with arrogance, assuming God's increased love and blessing. Instead, we must recognize that God, in His providence, may allow trials to deepen and enhance our delight in Him. Approaching God with humble reliance on His grace shifts our focus from seeking blessings to seeking the One who blesses.

Finally, Edwards urges us to resolve only for Christ's sake, ensuring our resolutions align with God's will. This isn't a mere exercise in goal-setting for personal happiness; it's a call to live according to God's will, for Christ's sake, and to acknowledge that all glory belongs to Him alone.

Making resolutions, whether at the dawn of a new year or in moments of reflection throughout the year, we can draw inspiration from Jonathan Edwards' sensible, dependent, humble, and Christ-centered approach. My prayer for all of us is to resolve to be grounded in God's Word and ultimately pursue everything we do for the glory of Christ. If we do this, it will become a very good 2024 on a journey of seeking His grace for His glory alone. You can find all 70 of his resolutions here.

Happy New Year!

Credit: Ron Kelley

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