Benjamin Franklin said about the New Year: “Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” About 50 percent of Americans will make New Year’s resolutions this year but statistics find only eight percent will ultimately accomplish them. Most modern resolutions are health and prosperity related. Sadly, most resolutions are a ‘wish list’ and not based in reality.
The Bible doesn’t mention anything about making New Year’s resolutions, but it does urge believers to examine their lives on a regular basis. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Simply put, Christians should be making resolutions all the time. An excellent example of that practice was Jonathan Edwards, the early American pastor. Famous for the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Edwards made a list of 70 resolutions in 1722-1723 that he read weekly the rest of his life to remind himself of what his spiritual and physical goals were. The list is available online and I would encourage you to read them. Borrowing from Jonathan Edward’s list, here are my 2020 resolutions.
First, let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. This was Edward’s 70th resolution- the last one. In this word of polarization and uncivil debate, I want to be a voice of conviction without contention. I realize that taking a stand for a value, cause or issue does create controversy, but help me to present my case (written and verbal) in a respectful way, recognizing only God knows everything.
Second, resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings. This was Edward’s 15th resolution. Reacting to people who attack you, call you names, and belittle you is human nature. Not reacting in anger to those who hurt or wound you takes more than just human resolve. It takes constant divine help. May I lean on God to give me that grace this year.
Third, resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live and never do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. These are the 6th and 7th of Edward’s resolutions. Ben Franklin said, “Procrastination is the enemy of success.” Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” May I live life with a sense of urgency, knowing I don’t have the promise of tomorrow.
Fourth, resolved, in narration’s never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity (truth). This was Edward’s 34th resolution. Speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), sharing difficult truths in a gentle, kind, inoffensive way is not easy. Often that can be seen as disloyal, double-crossing, or subversive, but ignoring, condoning and overlooking the truth is wrong. The modern norm is to ‘spin’ the facts’ to fit a pre-determined narrative. May I present the truth as best as I can see it in a simple concise way without fear of whom it may offend.
I realize I can’t keep these resolutions without divine help so as Edwards writes in his preamble: 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. Happy New Year!
Steve Fair is chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He can be reached by phone at (580) 252-6284 or by email at email@example.com.