Bible Studies for Life
Gordon Cloud, senior pastor
First Baptist Church, Camilla
What comes to mind when you hear the word “Commitment”? We might think of a promise we made to someone. We might think of an appointment or a business contract. We might even think of the much larger commitment of marriage.
All of these examples illustrate a particular aspect of commitment. But in one way or another, each of them falls short of demonstrating what the Bible means when it talks about our commitment to Christ.
You see, each of the above examples may be entered without the investment of our heart. We promise to attend a friend’s party when we would really rather be on the golf course. We make an appointment with a doctor, but we don’t want to go because we don’t think we really need to. We enter into business deals with people who mean nothing to us. Some have even taken the step of marriage without even loving the person to whom they are committing.
With Jesus, it is all or nothing. Vance Havner once said, “Jesus is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” He was, of course, not referring to the position of Jesus Christ, but rather our degree of submission to Him. There are two encounters in our text that indicate the level of commitment that Jesus expects from us.
Commitment as demonstrated by childlike trust
The children came to Jesus with hearts of innocence, joy, and unbridled trust. Jesus remarked upon the outstanding level of faith they demonstrated, saying that this was the type of faith required to see the Kingdom of God.
Their faith was not hindered by fear, worldly wisdom, cynicism, or pride. They had not yet learned these carnal emotions and so were able to place all of their trust in the capable hands of the Savior.
We often find ourselves having to overcome these inhibitions in order to trust Christ. We may fear rejection, the opinion of our peers, or perhaps the possibility of failure if we try to follow Christ. Some would try to take a rational approach to committing their life to Jesus, trying to reconcile what He says with the wisdom of this world. Some have become so cynical due to their life experiences that they are hesitant to trust anyone, let alone a Savior who they cannot see.
Then there is the hindrance of pride. To follow Christ, we must be willing to humble ourselves. Can you picture these children running up to Jesus? Some of them would have tried to give him a hug. Others would be climbing on Him or trying to sit in His lap. Still others would have taken a seat at His feet, content with being close to Him. Are we willing to lay aside our concern of what others will think or say about us if we go “all in” with our Lord?
Commitment demonstrated through obedience
Partial obedience is not enough. It is an indication of rebellion against the commands of Jesus. There may be something in our life that we do not want to give up in order to follow Christ. This thing then becomes an idol that takes the place of submission to our Lord.
Throughout the Bible, trust and obedience are coupled together. Trust without obedience is merely spiritual vanity. Obedience without trust is compliance, not worship. It takes the two of them together – obedience grounded upon trust – to demonstrate full commitment to Christ.
This type of obedience is doing what God says, when He says, and how He says.
Commitment in following Jesus wholeheartedly
Jesus lovingly commanded this young man to turn loose of what was dear to him (his wealth), take up the cross of self-denial, and follow Him.
Total commitment to Christ is not an easy matter, nor should it be entered into half-heartedly or whimsically.
Jesus’ reference to a cross was not random. There is only one purpose for a cross, and it takes both hands to carry it. In other words, you can’t carry your cross and hold on to the things of the world at the same time.
Ultimately, our commitment to Christ should reflect the commitment He has shown to us. He was willing to pay the ultimate price for us, are we willing to follow Him with all of our life?
To apply this lesson to your life, I think it is helpful to prayerfully examine our heart. Is there anything in our life that would hinder us from doing what God wants us to do? These may be things that are not sinful by nature, but they can easily become sinful idols that bind us in disobedience.
I hope you will find the grace to put child-like trust in the Savior, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him faithfully.
For every Christian there is a cross, for every cross there is a crown.