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Written by Mark dommel   
Friday, 19 September 2008

Commitment:  An obligation, promise or engagement


We spend a lot of time throwing this word "commitment" around.  Just what does that word mean?  Within the context of Christianity, do we really understand what we are talking about, or are we just spouting so much hot air?  To find out, let's look at the five levels of commitment: 

  1. Self
  2. Tasks
  3. Ideas
  4. People
  5. Christ


Commitment to Self

Many people are committed to not being committed.  They try to ride the fence without ever touching the ground.  These people think that a solid commitment would limit their options.  These people are usually very committed...to themselves

 

Matthew 21:23-27 (New International Version)

Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John's baptism-where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?"  They discussed it among themselves and said, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will ask, 'Then why didn't you believe him?' But if we say, 'From men'-we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet." So they answered Jesus, "We don't know."  Then he said, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

 

These guys were only worried about themselves.  They were committed to no one but themselves.  Jesus is not real sympathetic toward non-committed fence sitters.  Take a look at how Jesus does feel about these guys in Matthew 23.

  • They put burdens on others but are unwilling to help
  • Everything they do is so that men can see how "righteous" they are
  • Jesus calls them hypocrites - FOUR times
    He speaks of how they call men to keep the minutia of the law, but miss the point of the law
  • Jesus calls them "You Snakes!  You brood of vipers!"

Revelation3:15, 16 reminds us that Christ knows the Laodicean church was riding the fence - They were neither hot nor cold.  Because they were lukewarm, Christ was about to spit them out of his mouth.


Commitment to Tasks

This is the easiest type of commitment.  Why do you think this is true?  When you commitment yourself to a task - doing something for someone

 It is short term

Once and done

Easy in, Easy out

This type of commitment has two parts

 The promise:  "I will do this."

The follow through:  Do it and move on


The Parable of the Two Sons  Matthew 21:28-32 (NIV)


"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'
" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
      "The first," they answered.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.


What's the Point?  The religious leaders to who Jesus was speaking said they approved of John's message, but when it didn't fit into their nice little boxed and prepackaged world they rejected it.  Jesus was angry at these guys because they couldn't make up their minds.  They refused to commit to anything but themselves, their comfort and their convenience.


God expects us to follow through on our commitments.  These guys didn't get that, and it torqued Jesus and he let them know in no uncertain terms.

Commitment to Ideas

I BELIEVE - Strong words that take a lot of courage to say!  Why?  Because somewhere sometime you are going to be put in a position where you are going to have to prove it.  It also takes courage because it takes sacrifice.  You will have to rearrange priorities; surrender time or material possessions, or make changes in relationships.


The rich young ruler Mark 10:17-23 (NIV)


As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"

"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."

Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.  Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"


What Jesus said is REAL SIMPLE - "Put your money where your mouth is."  The rich young ruler couldn't do it!  Can You?


Commitment to People

Commitment in Marriage - "Till death do us part"  Total commitment to one person for the rest of your life.  It means putting yourself in a relationship that is permanent and where the other person must always come first.  See Romans 12:9-21

 

Genesis 2:24 (KJV)  "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." 

The word cleave in this verse means "to stick to like glue."  There is no provision here for those who ARE NOT willing to commit to a permanent relationship that can end only with the death of one or both of the parties.


Commitment to an Adopted Family - Ruth 1:16-18 (NIV)

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."  When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.


Ruth showed a commitment to an adopted family, a commitment so strong that she is willing to leave everything she has ever know to stay with Naomi.


Commitment to Friendship - I Samuel 19:1-4; 20:30-34, 42 


Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him, "My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I'll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out."

Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, "Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly....

 

Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!"

 "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?" Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father's shameful treatment of David....

Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.' "Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.

Here we find Jonathan was willing to stand between his father and David because of the friendship the Lord had allowed to grow between these two men.  Jonathan was willing to risk the wrath of Saul - not a small thing - and death to fulfill the vows of friendship. 


Commitment to Christ

I BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST. 

This is to be total commitment; total surrender!  You can hold nothing back!


Luke 9:23-27, 57-62 (NIV)


Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."...

 

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."

 

Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

He said to another man, "Follow me."
But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."

Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Philippians 3:7-11 (NIV)

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

The Vow, by Jeff Moore and the Distance


There is no halfway in our commitment to Jesus Christ and his work.  Jesus asks us for all or nothing.  A half-way follower of Jesus is worse than one who totally rejects Him because they do damage to the testimony of Jesus and his work.  (See Matthew 10:32-39)  Accept Him or reject Him, but do not try to ride the fence.  If you do you will fall and when you fall, you will get hurt.

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