Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
To follow my post regarding resolutions, here are a few good reminders of a vow, resolve or resolution.
Buck Parsons, “Resolved by the Grace of God,” Tabletalk (January 2009)
For a positive reason for considering resolutions, Parsons looks back to Jonathan Edwards to learn the proper reason and goal of resolutions. He quotes from Edwards as he grounds his 70 Resolutions, and any and all subsequent thoughts about them, including my own:
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.
David Powlison, “David Powlison on New Year’s Resolutions,” (December 31, 2009)
Prior to this question posted by Justin Taylor and this post, Powlison had not thought much about resolutions. As he pondered them, there were numerous concerns he had about them. But he also saw some benefit, as he himself has lived by a key one, a general one that affects every aspect of his life. Here is how he understands a resolution:
For starters, what is a resolution? What does it mean for me to resolve something? (We can dispense with the “New Year’s” part as merely arbitrary, not necessary.) This use of the word resolution means coming to a firm and determined decision to do something, to behave in a certain manner, to abide by certain principles. That sounds decidedly Christian. Considered from this angle, the Nicene Creed is one sort of resolution. And “I am Your servant . . . I promise to keep Your words” (Ps 119:124, 119:57) is another example of resolve. When you resolve_____, it means you formally express what you believe, will, or intend. It is a stand you take, a direction you choose. After thought and decision, you commit yourself to take steps along a trajectory which changes the destination of your life. Put that way, the entire Christian life might be conceived as a lifelong determination to make and walk out “New Creation Every-Day Resolutions.”
There is a single resolution to which he submitted upon becoming a Christian in 1976 and became a member of a local church. And this is the same resolution to which he was recommitting himself specifically to love his wife the night he wrote this post.
So are you making your New Year’s resolutions? On this New Year’s eve, I’ve decided to make one for the first time in my life, and I’m making it public.
I now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that I will endeavor to live as becomes a follower of Christ.
I can see very specific implications for my choices later this evening (when Nan and I go to a party with old friends) and early tomorrow morning (when we drive our daughter to the airport).
Then, by the grace of God, I’ll make this same resolution tomorrow on New Year’s Day, and, no doubt, there will be different implications, in different spheres of life. (My office really does need to be tidied up and reorganized. And University of Hawaii is playing in the Sugar Bowl. And several good friends are facing serious cancer. And. . . .) And then by the grace of God, I’ll make (and live out) the same resolution on January 2nd, and 3rd, . . . , and every day in this new year of Christ’s new creation, every day, for as long as it is called Today.
Jean Williams, “A statement of purpose for the new year,” The Briefing (January 18, 2012)
Williams recognizes the negative aspect to resolutions. But she also sees that if understood as Edwards spells, there is an appropriate place for them in the Christian life. Here is her introductory confession which is followed by her 8 Christ-focused/centered “prayerful commitments, shaped by the Bible.”
But this year, I tentatively stuck my foot in the waters of the New Year’s resolution once again. My resolutions aren’t vows. They’re not promises. In fact, they’re not really resolutions (I don’t have enough confidence in myself for that!). They’re prayerful commitments, shaped by the Bible: a description of the life I want to live as a woman who’s received God’s grace (Titus 2:3-5, 11-14; 1 Tim 5:10).
Tim Challies, “Keeping Your Resolutions,” (January 4, 2012)
Bearing in mind the proper biblical and Christian understanding of resolutions, Challies provides some resources for those who are looking for some help.
For those of you who did (or now will) make resolutions, I wanted to recommend just 2 or 3 resources that I’ve found helpful in the 6 areas of life that people are most often resolving to see change (and yes, I actually did some research to see what areas we tend to make resolutions).