The pain of commitment

Commitment is just not what it used to be.

“Commitment” almost seems like a curse word now-a-days.

At the very least, commitment is certainly not something that people hold in high esteem.

It has become a norm for people to make haphazard promises that they have no intention to fulfill. Unfortunately, one of the most common of these promises is, “to have and to hold, for richer or poorer.”

According to Enrichment Journal (as reported on divorcerate.org), 41% of all first marriages end in divorce, followed by 60% of second marriages and 73% of third (you would think they would get a clue, right?). With America’s commitment to holy matrimony being utterly cast down, it highlights the relative ease with which obligations can be abandoned.

Well, why do people find it so hard to fulfill their promises?

A rather plain answer to this question would be the fact the words that people speak are seen as having little value. It is easy to say you are going to do something, and then either blatantly disregard or back out of that agreement. In many cases, little thought is given to what is actually being said.

On the contrary, Proverbs 10:19 says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”

People commit to things all the time, most times with good intentions. The fact remains, though, that there is often a disconnect between intentions and actions; those who start strong may not even finish.

Jesus gives us a picturesque depiction of this reality while explaining to his disciples the Parable of the Sower. He says, “Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:16-17).

A primary reason people so easily neglect their commitments is because of the hardships they bring; it also must not help that they have “no root” or substance. In the parable, the people who represented stony ground gladly committed themselves to Jesus’ message regarding the Kingdom of God. This, of course, only lasted until they encountered the harsh realities of following Jesus.

When walking into an agreement, we oftentimes think about how it will benefit us. With marriage, an obvious perk is that you get to have sex as often as the Lord will allow. On the flip side, once you come down from the mountaintop, you have a whole other person to deal with—both the good qualities and the ugly ones.

On another note, taking out a loan can offer the instant gratification of being able to purchase that car or some other amenity. However, there is this small little catch where the money actually has to be paid back—with interest.

Yes, commitments are nothing to toy with. They are often challenged by adversity, and at the very least some form of inconvenience. We should, however, condition ourselves to be faithful to our commitments in spite of what may come.

The most important commitment one can make will even be challenged: giving one’s life to Jesus Christ through faith.

We know that this commitment will be met with opposition, as Paul writes, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus, himself, says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

While this may seem difficult, Jesus is not putting a yoke on us that he himself has yet to bear. Jesus was very much dedicated to his Father’s business. He shows this zeal in Hebrews 10:7, “Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God’.”

To be sure, God’s will for Christ is defined in the introduction of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (1:3-4)

Christ, then, committed himself to God’s will, which was that would he die for the ungodly. Hebrews 5:7-9, nevertheless, tells us:

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

What I find interesting is that Jesus’ commitment came with some trepidation. There came a point when even he desired to be released of his obligation. Though he prayed for the cup of God’s wrath to pass from him, he quickly acknowledged that his pledge to God’s will must stand: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Well, Jesus did fulfill his promise to do God’s will. He endured suffering, but he gained much from the steadfastness of his pledge.

Peter tells us, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in the body is done with sin” (1 Peter 4:1).

Paul adds, “Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

From our commitment to be identified with Christ in suffering, we have much to gain ourselves. First, we gain steadfastness in our confession. We also are enabled to adhere to our pledge in an integral fashion. Lastly, we have a future expectation, with this being the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23-24).

These things could very well represent a template for all our other commitments. Though we may experience unpleasantness, we should be steadfast and integral in fulfilling our obligations, with a future expectation in view—which typically will be the completion of our assignment.

Jesus, certainly, requires us to be faithful and enduring in our relationship with him, going as far as to tell the church in Smyrna to “be faithful, even to the point of death” (Revelation 2:10).

Colossians 3:23 exhorts, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” As we are to be committed to Christ, let us also rehearse this faithfulness in all of our other dealings.

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~ by christianballenger on August 31, 2012.

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