Why is devotion to Christ so important? The most important spiritual quality in the believer’s life is devotion to Christ. It should be the number one priority and demands reality. It is evident that Christian living has been displaced by a variety of allurements and worldly attractions. All agree that the three-fold enemy is working overtime with stealth and subtlety to destroy the rising generation as to vibrant Christian devotion. The pressures of life, the call of a seductive world, the self-life (the flesh), and Satanic devices are all too prevalent. We face the challenges of technology and its time consuming power: cell phones, computers, text messaging, Facebook, and other similarly advanced communication links. All these affect our lives, often displacing the most important values in Christian living. Lest any take a negative attitude to these matters, let it be understood that modern technology can be of great value in our world and can be beneficial in almost every realm; abuse is the problem. Let us count the cost of wasted days, hours, minutes! Let us count the gain of a life devoted to Christ!
Devotion is a common word in our society. It is used in many realms: sports, religion, business, politics. They live it, talk it, and some even sleep upon it. Their priorities are evident. However, there is a stark contrast between “their devotion” and “the devotion” of the Christian. Their devotion is about “self.” The Christian’s is summed up with “Christ only.” In a self-centered world, the promotion of self is evident. What pleases number one is what matters and such thinking saturates and controls the mind, making Christian devotion secondary. My sports, my partying, my selfish ambitions are all that matter! Paul’s word is always timely: “for me to live (is) Christ.” The heart’s affection wrapped around the Christ: “He is my all in all.” The motto of every missionary, preacher, printer, schoolmaster (or any other) ought to be “Devoted for life” (Adoniram Judson).
A. A devoted life is marked by submission to Christ
Paul’s Damascus road experience comes to mind: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” This attitude should be the wholehearted desire of every believer. Ponder what He has done for you. We sing, “would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?” and yet we live like the world! We recall that our Lord’s submission is summed up in the garden; “Not My will but Thine be done.” This is the secret to a devoted life.
B. A devoted life is marked by sacrifice to God
Romans 12:1-2 is an appeal to all believers to present their bodies as a whole burnt offering in willing sacrifice to God. “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him” (C.T. Studd). Surely we ought to present ourselves genuinely, willingly, and devotedly to Him Who called us by His mighty and marvelous grace. Whether we serve Christ in our own locality or on far-flung islands, sacrifice to God is required of every Christian. What we give up for Christ we gain. “What we keep back for ourselves is our real loss” (J. Hudson Taylor).
C. A devoted life is marked by suffering for Christ
This is the common portion of the devoted believer. Some are tried in the furnace of affliction, some martyred, some tortured, some persecuted, some rejected by their own family, others in lonely places serve the Master, but all serve out of devotion for Him. Paul chose the suffering of the present because the corresponding glory far outweighed the suffering. Why the godly suffer is an age-old question, but the end will tell the complete story. Presently, suffering produces Christlikeness. Remember, from the unshapely marble stone the skilled stone-cutter produces the likeness of some notable person: “the more the marble wastes the more the figure grows.” This has been likened to the believer becoming more like his Master by the hammer and chisel. “If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings” (Adoniram Judson). When John G. Paton laid the precious dust of his beloved wife and child to rest, it became a sacred spot in that far-off dark island of Tana. “But for Jesus and the fellowship He vouchsafed to me there, I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave” (John G. Paton).
D. A devoted life is marked by self-crucifixion through Christ.
It is generally agreed that of all the obstacles that hinder devotion to Christ, “self” presents the most destructive and difficult one, ever seeking to usurp authority and control.
We need to daily reckon ourselves dead unto sin and alive unto God. While we died to sin and self in our co-crucifixion with Christ, it was positional. In daily practice we reckon this to have taken place at the Cross, and thereby live in the good of death to self. Self is proud, arrogant, and selfish, always seeking first place. Devotion to Christ is willingness to take the low place, the servant-place, selfless for others. The motto: “Not I but Christ!” Examples of proud self are seen in king Saul, king Uzziah, and Diotrephes. Examples of devotion are set forth in Ruth, Jonathan, Ittai, David’s three mighty men, Paul, Timothy, Epaphroditus, plus a host of others who loved not their lives unto death. This is real devotion to Christ. The Cross slays the flesh and the world.
E. A devoted life is marked by satisfaction with Christ.
Life is short in view of eternity; that is the reason Paul said the things that are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal. How wonderful if we have spent our lives in wholehearted devotion to the One Who gave His all! At the Bema of glory, all devotion to the Lord will have His “well done.” Let us count the cost and turn from all of self, sin, and the world. Let us invest in the eternal.
After three years on the island of Tana, J. G. Paton had the reward of placing into hands once stained with the blood of cannibalism, the symbols and seals of the Redeemer’s love in the emblems of which they partook. He said memorable words: “I had a foretaste of the joy of glory that well nigh broke my heart to pieces. I shall never taste a deeper bliss till I gaze on the glorified face of Jesus.”