As the year has just gotten underway, many will take to creating a list of New Year’s resolutions. Writing a list of resolutions for the new year is not something new. Jonathon Edwards, the late 18th century pastor and theologian, is famously known for writing long lists of resolutions and then striving throughout the year to keep them. Regarding this practice, Mark Noll, Research Professor of History at Regent College, writes: “Typical of many other serious young men of his day, the young Jonathan Edwards drew up a list of resolutions, committing himself to a God-centered life lived in harmony with others.” The list was “probably first written down in 1722 and added to at several times in his lifetime.” Below are a few examples of the sort of resolutions Edwards wrote down and committed himself to pursuing.
These are some worthy resolutions, indeed, but for those who overwhelm themselves with too many resolutions, most of which never get accomplished, and for those who have never written a single new year’s resolution, I would like to suggest just one new year’s resolution that, if kept, will be immeasurably beneficial to your soul for all eternity.
Many well-intended Christians tackle the goal of reading through the Bible in a year. While this is a most worthy endeavor, and certainly becoming familiar with the whole of redemptive history, the whole of scripture from beginning to end, is immensely valuable, I would encourage most Christians to choose quality over quantity.
It is far better to find a quiet place to retreat during the day, approach God’s word in prayer, asking Him to speak to you through his word and to teach you more about Christ and reveal to you more of your sin, and then to slowly, meditatively, and prayerfully read through one chapter of God’s word every day. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with reading more, and if you have the time and the desire and a hunger for more of God’s word, then by all means—read on!
But there is little value in speed-reading God’s word. Reading through 4-6 chapters every day. Checking off the box. Plowing forward toward the goal of reading the entire Bible in one year. It is far better to imitate Mary, to sit at the feet of Christ while the world rushes around you, and simply hang on every word which comes from the mouth of Christ (Lk 10:38-42).
Jesus said that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). Man lives by “every word.” Every word of scripture matters. Every word of scripture has meaning and value. Every word of God’s Word is worth hanging on, absorbing, pondering, and meditating on. God is not a windbag. He does not waste words. The Bible is large, yet God has given us the most condensed version of the self-revelation of an infinite God which could be reasonably given. God spent 1,500 years revealing his Word to his people. We ought not to rush through it in twelve months.
During Jesus’ high priestly prayer, he lifts all future believers to the Father and prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). God word, every word, is the means through which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer, making them more and more into the very image and character of Christ “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Co 3:18).
The words and childlike voice God used to convert the great theologian, St. Augustine (ca. 354-430 AD), are the same words which beckon us today—“Take up and read. Take up and read.” If you have struggled in the Christian life and have often wondered why overcoming sin and becoming more like Christ seems so nearly impossible, I implore you to take up and read God’s word. Read it daily. Read it as though your life depended on it, for it does. Your eternal soul hangs in the balance. There are so many things in this world which demand our attention, which easily distract us, but there is none more important than spending daily time at the feet of Christ and finding life in every word.
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