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.”
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.
This year our theme is “Let’s Renew in ‘22. We are both writing and preaching about the need to renew, revive, or reaffirm our relationship to the Lord and our spiritual vigor and vitality. Each week, we will use our Word of the Week column to suggest a fundamental area in which we may require renewal.
While the word “commitment,” is not found in standard Bible translations, the concept is taught from Genesis to Revelation.
Righteous Noah was committed, to obeying God’s instructions for building the ark and serving as a “preacher of righteousness” to a wicked world for 120 years.
Faithful Abraham followed God’s leading as a sojourner in a foreign land believing in His promise, leaving his homeland, and passing the difficult test to even offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
Upright Joseph remained honest and honorable even though hated by his brothers, sold into captivity, falsely accused by an unscrupulous woman and forgotten to languish in prison.
Devoted Daniel, although taken into captivity to live in a foreign land would not defile his body, or compromise his convictions. Even when his daily prayer life landed him in the lion’s den.
Both the New Testament and secular history record the early apostles, preachers, and disciples being persecuted for their faith. Peter and John were imprisoned. Stephen was stoned to death. James was beheaded. Paul was beaten, stoned, and imprisoned. Yet, like the others, he said, “I press on toward the prize.”
For those of us today in America, we’ve lived a life of ease. We enjoy conveniences and creature comforts unknown to people in many parts of the world. Discretionary income, freedom of choice, and spare time may breed contentment and self-satisfaction that leads to complacency regarding spiritual matters.
Discipleship, however, demands commitment. It’s more than what we profess, it’s what we practice. It’s more than just wearing the name Christian, it’s being a Christian. It’s more than just attending church weekly, it’s daily dedication, devotion, and discipline. 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).
Furthermore, 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 a greater kind of love.
Do you need to renew your commitment to…
…Regular Bible reading?
…Growing in grace and knowledge?
…Developing the fruit of the spirit?
…Transformation to the character of Christ?
…Feeding your faith instead of fueling your fears?
Like David of old, maybe we need to pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass” (Ps. 37:5).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman