Someone has defined commitment as “dedication to a particular organization, cause, or belief, and a willingness to get involved.”
This definition governs many churches and organizations, but this definition of commitment is insufficient for the church of Jesus Christ. At heart, the family of Jesus Christ must possess not commitment to an organization or a religion but to a Person.
Paul defined Christian commitment in very personal terms. “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1). This commitment follows God’s personal commitment of grace toward us through His Son. We read about God’s breathtaking commitment to us in the previous 11 chapters. Tragically, many well-meaning people get this all wrong, including Christians.
In his book, Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges writes of this wrong priority:
“When we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, we need to ensure that our commitment is actually to God, not simply to a holy lifestyle or a set of moral values. The people of my parents’ generation were generally honest, chaste, sober and thrifty. They were committed to those values, but they were not necessarily committed to God. Many of them were outstanding moralists and even church people, but they were not committed to God.”
Living moral lives is not enough. For example, the morality of the Pharisees was second to none, probably better than our own, but Jesus had harsh words for them: they were not committed to God. Their focus upon morality rather than upon God brought them to crucify their Messiah when He challenged their priorities, bringing destruction and exile to their nation.
We, too, may be moral people, but let us be sure we are committed to God. Do we really make it our first aim to do everything for the glory of God, not caring what others think but only what God thinks? Do we go to God primarily to tell Him our needs, or do we go to Him primarily because He is our very Life?
When we sin, do we anguish more about how we feel or how God feels? Do we spend a lot of time brooding or in rationalizing our behavior, or do we confess our sins and move forward, secure in God’s love and grace? Do we respond in love and gratitude to God’s love, or do we obey Him out of duty or fear? Do we honor Jesus Christ no matter what it costs us, because we are consumed by Him?
Are we being conformed to this world, or are we being transformed by the renewing of our minds as we seek after God?
What difference does it make when we commit ourselves to God?
First of all, we must remember that God has committed Himself to us first. We do not serve an impassive deity far off in the distant heavens, but One who left His divine throne to become one of us and one with us. He made Himself a servant, humbling Himself and becoming obedient, even to the point of death on a cross, to make us right with Him (Philippians 2:5-11). He did this, not because of our goodness but when we were yet sinners.
God’s love is without limit. During His lifetime on earth, He demonstrated that He loved priests and prostitutes, law keepers and law breakers, silent people and loudmouths, wise and unwise, poor in spirit and hypocrites, lovers and haters, winners and losers, rich and poor, the moral and immoral, conformists and rebels, the beautiful and ugly. All of them, however they appeared on the outside, were rotten with death inside. Such people continue to walk the earth today. They include people like you and me.
He has died to forgive your sin and mine. He died and rose again to make us part of a new humanity. He has guaranteed this by giving us His Holy Spirit. He has given to us spiritual gifts and the means to live out His own character in our lives.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (2:9). In Ephesians, he reminds us that He chose us from before the foundation of the world (1:4), and He loves us with a love that surpasses knowledge (3:19). When we reach out to God, He fills us with His fullness. He offers friendship, membership in His family.
Who else can match God in who He is? With God, commitment means relationship with Him, and relationship with God is like no other. There are no good substitutes. Everything else falls short and falls flat. We were made for that relationship.
What good reason do we have to deprive ourselves of a relationship with Him who will not let us go?
Commitment to God does not mean we achieve perfection in this life. Billy Graham, one of the most committed of Christians of our time, said he had to confess his sins before the Lord every day. He readily admitted making many mistakes over his lifetime.
Billy Graham’s commitment to God was an honest and open one, involving a sharing of the good and bad in his life. He developed a friendship with God making it possible for God, in spite of Billy Graham’s weaknesses and sins, to raise him up from an obscure farm boy into the world’s foremost evangelist. Hundreds of millions from many nations and continents were blessed through the ministry of this sinner who fully committed his life into the hands of God.
God wants to do wonderful things through each of us, more than we can imagine. Each person has more to contribute to the glory of God and the blessing of others than he knows, whatever his background. Indeed, if God can work such extraordinary things through an ordinary man like Billy Graham, He can do it through you and me.
His plan for each of us exceeds any plan we make for ourselves. His plan is what we were made for. He will work in our lives to glorify Him, bless us and bless others in ways we cannot imagine. When we make our highest commitment to God, and lose ourselves in Him, we find ourselves.
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Father God, thank you for committing yourself to me, long before you created the world. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ into the world when I was still a sinner to save me from sin and from myself. I can never match what you have done for me, but help me to better commit myself to you with my whole heart, soul, strength and mind, and to my neighbor as myself. In Jesus’ Name.