Resolved that I will live so, as I wish I had done when I come to die. (#17)
Resolved never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump. (#19)
[update: I’ve combined Resolutions 17 & 19 due to the consistent nature of their content and my reaction to them]
This reminds me of a quote I read recently. Dr. Samuel Johnson is reported to have said: “Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” When we are near death–or made more aware of it–our minds tend to think clearer. When someone close to us dies, when we struggle with a grieving loss, what is truly (and ultimately) important to us becomes apparent.
I believe this is the emotional response Jonathan Edwards is hoping to trigger with this resolution.
Essentially he is saying that he wants to live in such a way that he has no regrets. Sure he (as we all) will mess up and wish things could’ve been done differently, but having an attitude of urgency and proactivity changes the way in which we live; the people in which we share the Gospel with; even HOW we share that Gospel. It changes the filter in which we perceive and act in our lives. Even the risks we do or do not take.
Another quote that comes to mind in regards to this topic is from C.S. Lewis who says: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
I think he hits it dead on in pointing out that as we think about Heaven and the eternal promises provided to us in the Gospel it changes us. It changes the way we think, act, pray, love, and serve. It changes our perspective from the temporal to the abiding/eternal; and when that happens, there are fundamental changes in us.
This resolution is about making these truths more readily on the front of our minds. We ought to be thinking through this lens much more than we presently do. Maybe then we won’t watch that extra episode of a TV show we’ve already seen. Maybe then we will have the courage to share the Gospel (and take the risk!) with the person God has put on our hearts. Maybe then we will begin actually responding to our own question of “will this (action) even matter in 5 years, or am I just wasting time?”
At the end of the day it’s about a level of intentionality. John Piper in Don’t Waste Your Life puts it well when he (continually) asserts that he doesn’t want to get to the end of his life and say “I’ve wasted it.”