The first of a series of practical issues facing us as assembly believers.
This is what President George W. Bush said at the time of former President Ronald Reagan’s death: “He had the confidence that comes with conviction, the strength that comes with character, the grace that comes with humility, and the humor that comes with wisdom.” The President gave us, in his statement, the major ingredients in a life of commitment.
Casual Commitment! Let me say that there is nothing about spiritual commitment that is casual! The next word to be deleted from our modern dictionaries will likely be the word “commitment” as it will have little meaning and less use!
From the signing of a car rental agreement, along with other simple business transactions, we are called upon to place our signature on the line, guarantee it with property, because the business world knows we live in a noncommittal society! Contracts are enforced by courts, but commitment is enforced by character. One requires the giving of your name, the other the giving of your life, be it to serve your country or your assembly.
Who would ever think of trusting himself to a surgeon who wasn’t committed to his work? Who would fly with a crew that was not committed to the lives of the hundreds of people on board? We want people who are committed!
The greatest commitment ever known, was by the Son of God, who committed Himself to doing the will of His God that sent Him, and that meant dying on the Cross! He spoke of it as the cup which His Father had given Him, and asked, “Shall I not drink it?”
Firstly, think of the love of the committed.
The Hebrew servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever” (Exodus 21:5-6). The love of the committed is such that they do not think in terms of the alternatives or the options! Spiritual commitment is intended to be life-long, which will bring eternal reward.
The first love of believers was to the One who died for them on Calvary’s Cross. They committed everything to Him. We were only able to return that love, after we had first received it. Paul said in Galatians 2:20b, “The Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” The same writer tell us, “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25b)
How can anyone commit himself to someone, or something that he doesn’t love? It is impossible! There is first a love for who are His, and then there is a corresponding love for what is His. David said, “Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honor dwelleth” (Ps 26:8). Who would question David’s commitment to God’s people and God’s dwelling place?
Secondly, think of the language of the committed.
Esther’s approach to the King was an illegal and very dangerous act (Esther 4:11). It would involve the disclosure of her ethnicity and perhaps sign her own death warrant. Listen to the language of commitment: “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). The Hebrew children would state plainly in face of the possibility of their not being delivered, “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18).
Sometimes we talk one thing, but our actions betray our words! What we love is always in our language. Few grandparents have to be coaxed into talking about those grandchildren! We don’t need to listen to the men and women of this world long before their language tells what they love, few things besides themselves.
Thirdly, think of the life of the committed.
Caleb, at eighty-five, was still growing and grabbing the future (Joshua 14:12). When he could have been in comfortable retirement, he was out fighting giants and claiming mountains. While his friends were yawning, he was yearning. Every time the sun came up, it was a new adventure for him. Caleb’s life was preserved in the time of judgment. The ten other spies fell, but Caleb lived still. Not only did he live, but also he was rewarded with a long life of commitment. He was as strong at eighty-five as at forty. He had found the secret of perpetual youth: a life of unbroken trust in God and commitment to His Word.
The caption was “The Greatest Last Place Finish Ever.”
It was at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. It is a picture of the long-distance marathon runner, John Steven Aqwari from Tanzania doing his final lap around the arena before the finish line. “He entered the dimly lit arena at the far end, hobbling along with a bloodied and bandaged leg. The winner of the Marathon had been declared over an hour earlier. The small crowd still present in the arena roared with appreciation as he crossed the finish line. A reporter got alongside the man and asked ‘Why did you not retire from the race, given you had no chance of winning?’ Aqwari looked puzzled at the reporter’s question. After a few moments he replied quietly with dignity. ‘My country did not send me 7000 miles to Mexico to start the race. They sent me to finish it’.” That is commitment!
Listen to a committed former runner. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
We sorely miss those who have gone home to heaven, believers that were shepherds among the flock, mothers in Israel, who knew true commitment to their local church, in their love, in their language, and in their lives! However, testimony to His name is carried on today by those that have reached for the baton of spiritual commitment and are determined with the Lord’s help to carry it to the finish. Let me conclude by asking, “Could the local assembly that you are in survive on your commitment to it”?