I love Jonathan Edwards’ first resolution:
“Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
Notice a few things.
First, he sees no ultimate conflict between his good and God’s glory. God’s glory is most important, but his good is found in pursuing God’s glory. There is no ultimate conflict between his joy and the magnification of God’s excellence.
Second, Edwards is thinking trillions of years out (“or never so many myriad’s of ages hence”). That’s inspiring. The purpose that God has given us here — namely, to glorify Him — will not end but will continue forever. So we not think of our lives simply in terms of the years we have on earth, but should live our lives in light of the the fact that, if we believe, we will be with Christ for eternity.
Third, Edwards isn’t just thinking of his own good, but endeavors to do what is most advantageous for others. He puts others before himself — not as though there is any ultimate conflict between seeking his own good and the good of others, but rather realizing that it is in seeking the good of others first (out of an overflow of joy in God) that we find our own ultimate joy.
Fourth, Edwards seeks the glory of God, good of others, and his own joy regardless of any difficulties. He expects challenge and suffering, and instead of seeing them as a reason to turn aside, he sees these tasks as worth whatever difficulties may come.
Finally, Edward exhibits here the importance of creativity and ingenuity and zeal in the Christian life. This comes out especially when you see his next resolution, which is: “Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.” I love that. Edward’s is not about just accepting things as they are and giving in to difficulties or merely giving things a good try; rather, he models the importance of giving thought and energy to finding ways to advance the good of others and the glory of God. This is part of what it means to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).