The Scottish minister, David Livingstone was one of the most popular national heroes of 19th century Britain. He was known as an explorer. Scientific investigator. Anti-slavery crusader. And Protestant missionary martyr.
The story is told that Livingstone once received a letter from the London Missionary Society inquiring about his work in Africa. They asked the explorer, “Have you found a good road to where you are? If so, we want to know how to send other men to join you?
Livingstone wrote back, “If you have men who will come only if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”
Commitment. Livingstone was looking for others who were committed to his cause, not their personal convenience. He wanted men willing to suffer hardship, not those seeking a life of ease. He desired co-workers who were dedicated, disciplined and duty-bound. Not folks who simply wanted to make a mission trip without any trouble, trial or inconveniences.
Commitment. Success in any field of endeavor depends upon it. In fact, success and commitment are often linked together. The late news anchor, Walter Cronkite stated unequivocally, “I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.” This is witnessed in sports, business, education, and politics.
Commitment. It is a quality necessary for the spiritual growth, maturity and success of every Christian. Interestingly, standard translations of the Bible never use the word commitment! Yet, the concept is woven throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
What was the common characteristic of all the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? Commitment! Commitment to God. Commitment to a righteous cause. Commitment to personal integrity. Commitment to their fellow comrades of faith.
Jesus’ sermon on the Mount speaks to the quality of commitment. Commitment to spiritual values. Commitment to nobler virtues. Commitment to a higher standard of living. Commitment to a deeper sense of service. Commitment to greater kind of love.
Discipleship demands commitment. Christ challenges His followers to commitment when he declares, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. (Lk 9:23)
Commitment is the real challenge issued by the inspired writers regardless of the topic. Are we committed to a new and different life? Will we accept the challenge of commitment in terms of moral transformation? Ethical behavior? Lifestyle changes? And a reordering of our priorities?
Christianity challenges us to be awakened and aroused to examine our level of commitment. To ask, “Am I growing in grace and in knowledge?” “Am I producing the fruit of the spirit?” “Am I walking by faith and not by sight?”
Once we make our commitment to Christ, we soon learn that commitment has its challenges. Obstacles. Difficulties. Commitment is not always easy. We will be tested and tried. Our commitment will be threatened. Christian commitment is demanding.
Commitment. It’s more than what we profess. It’s what we practice. As Arthur Gordon acknowledged, “Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.”
Will you answer the challenge of commitment?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman