By May 12, 2011 Max Out Blog

Jonathan Edwards is arguably the greatest theologian and preacher in American History.  While, he is known for his many famous writings and sermons, perhaps the most impactful words he wrote were his list of 70 resolutions.  In the year 1722, as a 19 year old young man, Jonathan Edwards sat down and penned this list of resolutions that would serve as the stakes by which his life was grounded.  In fact, he would review this list of 70 resolutions each and every week throughout the course of his life. 

By reading through his resolutions, it is obvious that he lived for an audience of One.  Jonathan Edwards was entranced by a vision for the glory of God and he lived his life as though the Triune God were the only one watching. 

His 62nd resolution reads as follows:  Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Ephesians 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; “knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord.”

In light of Edwards’ resolve in this area and how that relates to athletics, I was impacted by the thoughts of Pastor John Kim who writes specifically about this resolution. 

The approval of man is something that we all seek in one way or another as we reveal on the flip side that the fear of man is often a driving motivation to why we do what we do. This is revealed from our heart attitudes in the daily responsibilities of our lives, whether it be in marriage, parenting, friendships, working relationships, church ministry or sports. We are driven by the desire to hear the praise of man, to hear a “well done” by someone tangible as opposed to our Father in heaven, and so we subtly or not so subtly mimic the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day who would pray long prayers and look miserable as they fasted.

When Edwards talks about “duty,” I don’t think it’s so much just the sense of obligation that he is referring to as this is addressed by the “do it willingly and cheerfully” description that should be the heart attitude behind doing the will of God. We do have a duty to do the will of God. Unfortunately many of us are driven by a sense of obligation rather than an attitude of joy in our obedience to Christ. This stems from a heart that is not centered on the cross, that does not rejoice in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. While we might believe that we have been justified by grace, we think sanctification is solely by our works and there is a tendency toward either legalism or a guilt-driven motivation that strips our obedience of its God-centered enthusiasm and replaces it with a man-centered mentality that in every way contributes to our distortion and mis-perception of God and His truth.

Instead of being people-pleasers, we really need to be not only God-pleasers, we need to be God-rejoicers, knowing that not only have we already received from the Lord our salvation in Christ, we continue to receive His grace and mercy through His daily provision through the work of the Holy Spirit and the truth of His Word that ministers to our hearts, our souls, and our minds.

When God is front and center of our lives, then our man-centeredness is forced to vacate and the fear of man or the approval of man loses its appeal as the glory of God rises in our sights and our hearts in all we do. As Edwards says, “Resolved, never to do anything but duty” – this idea seems to be pointing toward a very simple yet profound thought – in whatever I do, let it all be done to the glory of God. This is everything that I should be doing.

Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” If God’s glory is all about the source, the means, and the ends of all things, then it really does mean that all things should be done before Him alone and not to man. Even though from our vantage point we can’t help but see the physical aspect of it, we must transcend our earthly bound thinking and remember that God is ultimately the one that we should be considering when we think about who we should fear or whose approval we should seek.” (Italicized mine)

As athletes and coaches, we should always keep in mind our duty to do all things to the glory of God.  He is our audience.  He is our motivation.  It is He along that we should fear and seek approval. 

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