Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of our intentions, and the actions which speak louder than works. It is making the time when there is none…coming through time after time after time, year after year. Commitment is the stuff character is made of, the power to change the face of things. It is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism.
“JESUS, I LOVE YOU. REALLY. BUT…”
One day a believer came before the Lord to talk to him. He said: “Lord Jesus, there are some matters we’ve needed to sort out for a long time. It keeps nagging at me that we are working at opposite purposes, so perhaps we need to talk. Clear the air. Lay all our cards on the table.
“Jesus, I love you but have to seek my own fulfillment rather than your kingdom when the two are in conflict. It’s just human nature. After all, you made me the way I am.
“I love you, Jesus, but I must hold on to my friends – even the ones who cannot bring me closer to you and who often tempt me to sin against you. You surely understand about my need to be accepted by my peers.
“You know, Jesus, that I love you with my whole heart. But, I can’t think you want me to sacrifice money, prestige, or comfort – even though they are most often for my glory than for yours.
“Jesus, I really do love you but sometimes I have this overwhelming urge to get even with the people who hurt me rather than turn the other cheek. It just doesn’t seem fair to have to take that stuff from anybody.
“Lord, you know I love you, but my self-esteem gets such a boost from leading and dominating that I just can’t feel right being a follower and a servant. After all, what would my colleagues think of me in such a self-effacing role? It just wouldn’t be me.
“And, Jesus, I love you but I am having a difficult time with lots of my neighbors – even my Christian brothers and sisters. Some of them are rude and selfish. Others are hypocritical. Why, I have to wonder whether some of them even love you very much at all.
“This little talk we have had has made me feel a lot better. I think we probably understand each other better now. Any reaction from you?”
Jesus’ eyes looked sadder than they had ever looked before. As they filled with tears, he said, “You’ve said all there is to say. Your position is clear. There’s nothing I can add.”
The two of them went their separate ways. One walked away with a jaunty spring in his step. The other walked away slowly, as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his back.
Their paths never crossed again.
ALL HE ASKS IS ALL WE HAVE
Why do so many people fail in living the Christian life? While many answers have been offered, I believe one overriding reason fits every case. People have either failed to understand or are unwilling to surrender to the central requirement of faithful discipleship. Jesus must be absolutely first in our lives.
He has made plain the preeminence He must have. We must love Him more than material things. (Matthew 6:19-24). This means we must not neglect our service to Him in order to amass wealth. Further, we must not seek wealth by dishonest or dishonorable means.
He told us plainly that we must love Him even more than our dearest ones on earth (Matthew 10:34-37). This means that one must not yield to family pressures that would cause him to disobey Christ. Even if one’s family disowns him for becoming a Christian, he must still serve the Lord.
The basic, and most difficult, sacrifice He asks of us is self. We must present our bodies as “living sacrifices” unto God (Romans 12:1). Jesus said His followers must “deny [no longer recognize, refuse to acknowledge] self” (Luke 9:23). We must be crucified with Christ so that self no longer lives, but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). This difficult challenge is the major point of failure. A generation that has grown up on a steady diet of “do your own thing” and “if it feels good do it” does not find it easy to give up its fornication, its alcohol and drug consumption, its materialism, and all of its other sin and shame.
Even some saints care more about their “right” to drink their beer than they care about the hope of Heaven. Our world is convenience-crazy and pleasure-mad, operating as did Israel in the days of the judges: “…every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). Men have become vain in their reasonings and their senseless hearts are darkened, leading them into unspeakable evils (Romans 1:18-32).
Sadly, this is true of many of the elect. If you doubt it, consider how many church members attend only when they please and do what they please otherwise, with hardly a thought. Consider how many are still “stiff-necked” about giving generously of their money, in spite of the strong Scriptural demands. Worldliness among the saints is winked at in many, if not most, congregations. The sad truth is that many of us do exactly what we want to do in both doctrine and practice, just as the world does. We can never be faithful to Christ until we understand that what He asks of us is all we have!
Dub McClish, Denton TX
LEST WE FORGET GETHSEMANE
At Gethsemane there were four companies of people: 1. The Lord alone – praying. 2.The three disciples – sleeping. 3. The eight disciples – waiting. The murderous mob – approaching. The further from the Lord, the greater the crowd – and it is still true today.