Jonathan Edwards has been summarized in two resolutions. Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
Few people have had the kind of resolve he had. His 70 Resolutions have been a hallmark of Christian living for decades. In a real sense, he comfortably fits the mold of what Paul described when teaching Timothy about determination in ministry: “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Tim. 2:4). Yesterday, we saw how this relates to clear vision and how it gives us purpose and motivation. Today, we turn to the second characteristic in this verse.
A soldier has personal resolve.
One dictionary defines resolve as a firm determination to do something. It refers to one’s personal decision to follow something through to completion. It involves strong will power and self-discipline. One who is resolved does exactly what he intended. He doesn’t waver or abandon.
Paul says, “no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits” (2 Tim. 2:4). By this, he is not suggesting Christians ought to separate that which is sometimes called “spiritual” from “secular” life, since all of life is lived spiritually. Rather, he is speaking of something critical to fulfilling missions. Here are five descriptions of a soldier’s resolve that will help us think more effectively about conquering our goals.
His resolve is untangled.
A soldier must get mixed up in something. Whether he is guarding or escorting or waging war in battle, he is always involved in something if he is involved in serving. Paul’s language here seems to suggest a negative kind of entanglement. He is referring to a kind of involvement that impedes the mission. It is more like entrapment than anything else. A good soldier knows things outside of the mission can easily ensnare him and jeopardize his assignment. We too should be mindful of these things and properly mix ourselves up with things that matter.
His resolve is sharp.
Being mindful of potential entrapment implies that we are able to discern the best from the good, not just the good from the bad. There are many things in life that are good things. Soldiers have to think sharply. They have to separate the civilian things from the mission things. These civilian things are not bad, just not part of the mission. Often, there are good things that you might call “civilian things.” Like a good soldier, we should think wisely about the things of life, for some things are good, but not best.
His resolve is engaged.
It is the “civilian pursuits” that easily entrap the soldier and impede his mission. A good soldier is wise with his time, wise with his talent and trade, and wise with his treasure. He uses all that he has to strive toward his mission. He aspires to conquer and please his superior, so he occupies himself with things that bring about victory. He knows his assignment and discerns his way of execution, but he only conquers his goal when he actually leans into battle. We too must get into action and pursue what matters, not just passively wait for it to come.
His resolve is controlled.
All of this implies a special kind of self-control, in my opinion. Few, if any, can easily manage their time and orient their life to excel in all three ways. It is easy to get entangled in things that impede our productivity. It is easy to make a bad decision on what has more value and importance. It is easy to disengage or mindlessly sit back when we must press ahead. This is why a solder is pictured, not a run-of-the-mill kid off the street. A soldier is trained to be resolved. Let’s take the hint. Be like a soldier and take control.
His resolve is spiritual.
Finally, while this was always a spiritual matter, allow me to bring it to you spiritually. As much as you want to, you can never conquer without the Lord’s help. The soldier that fulfills his mission and pleases his superior is the soldier that obeys God’s commands by God’s strength (Phil. 4:13). If your goals are aligned with God’s purposes, He will help you reach them in His power.
A soldier who refuses to get entangled in civilian pursuits is a soldier who is focused and undivided about his mission. He is centered on reaching his goal. He subjects himself to things that matter to his assignment and discards all other things. He is fully devoted to his mission. Are you resolved?