by Bobby Lamb
In the past few weeks we have been exploring what it takes to be a successful God’s way. We have seen that even though the idea of success may be different, we all have the desire to be successful. With this series we are setting out to discover God’s definition of ultimate success. The definition and ideology that God has set before us is the end all of success. He wants nothing less than the best for His people.
Tim Leahy explained that the first step to having success God’s way is salvation. We can’t be successful if we are separated from God. (For more on this click here.)
Now that the platform has been set, and we have a starting point, we know that salvation is not the end but just the beginning. From this point on we will build on this as a prerequisite. Alan Redpath summarizes this well: “The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment, but the manufacture of a saint is the task of a lifetime.”
The next step in moving toward a successful Christian life is unyielding faith. Eddie McDonald brought us the understanding of trusting God in even the most extreme circumstances, showing us how we can put our faith into action. A.W. Pink once said, “Daily living by faith in Christ is what makes the difference between the sickly and the healthy Christian, between the defeated and the victorious saint.” (For more on this click here.)
So as we continue to build on the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. acrostic, adding yet another layer to the successful life God has for us as believers, we are going to look at commitment. You can look on just about every page in the Bible and see an example; so as we consider what commitment means to the Christian, I would like to look at three forms: man’s commitment to man, God’s commitment to man, and man’s commitment to God.
We can all see the value of being committed to another person whether it is in a marital relationship, work relationship, or a friendship. One friendship that comes to mind is that of David and Jonathan. David grew up as a country boy with sheep and the simple things of life. Jonathan, on the other hand, grew up with the comforts of the royal courts of the king, who happened to be his father. This relationship, however unlikely, was a strong one. King Saul (Jonathan’s father) was removed from the throne in God’s eyes because of a great sin in his life (1 Samuel 13). Saul was set to kill David, the Lord’s next anointed king. Although Saul was still on the throne, he knew that his time was limited. The hard truth that David was chosen by God to be the next king was not a secret, even to David’s friend Jonathan. With the inheritance of the throne in the balance, Jonathan was faced with a decision that could not be easy. You see, on the one hand he could have simply stayed out of the way of his father and let him pursue David to death; but on the other, Jonathan had made a commitment to David. This was not just any commitment; it was a covenant between him and David. This was something to be taken very seriously. This form of commitment was founded on something they both had in common………knowing God. They both had the love of God in their hearts and the desire to be committed to Him and His plan. It was because of their love and desire for God that they formed the covenant between each other. So we can see how Jonathan may have had a choice to make, but the decision was clear (1 Samuel 20). As Jonathan and David had a conversation about Saul’s intention to kill David, Jonathan even remembers and re-declares his total commitment. This is the commitment that is self-sacrificing.
When I think of God, the Master and Creator of the universe, it absolutely humbles me to think He is committed to me!!!! He has provided a way for me to be forever in a relationship with Him. His commitment can be seen in many different actions taken by Jesus. The greatest display of God’s commitment to man is the cross. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
In John 21 we see a great conversation between Peter and Jesus. As the conversation begins, Jesus asked Peter a question, but he did it in a strange way. He didn’t say, “Peter, do you love me?” he said, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love me?” You see Jesus reverted back to the old name for Peter. Can you imagine how this felt to Peter? It’s bad enough that he is carrying the weight of the denial; not once, not twice, but three times he denied Jesus. But now Jesus is even calling him by his old name……that had to sting. Jesus asked Peter twice using the same word for love, agape. That’s the truest love, a kind of supreme love. And Peter answered back with the word phileo, and this word is a lesser love, one meant for a strong affection. Put yourself in Peter’s shoes now. Jesus is asking him “do you love me supremely?” Peter, knowing that Jesus knows the thoughts of all men, can’t honestly answer yes to that because his actions don’t match up and he knows it. So he gives Jesus the closest thing he can, “I really like you”. This happens two times, but something happens on the third time that really hits Peter hard. Jesus turns things around a little and asked Peter, “do you really like me?”…….Peter is floored by this; now Jesus was even questioning his honesty of that lesser level of love. Peter quickly answers, “Jesus you know all things, and you know I do”. What Jesus has done with Peter is made sure he was completely empty of himself, just like the boat was empty of fish. It is impossible to be filled with Jesus if we are full of ourselves. Man’s commitment to God has to be completely pouring out who we are, all the prideful self-determination, and being full of Jesus. It was in this moment that Jesus restored Peter and was able to put him in the place where he could be committed.
We have to be willing on all fronts to be empty of ourselves. Peter in his early life was self-willed and hard headed (he’s is often referred to as the apostle with the foot shaped mouth). He went about boasting that he would never deny Christ and how much he loved Him, but his determination was not commitment. His point to prove was to himself and others around him, not to God. But Jesus saw the commitment ready to work in him, only in time. He would be so committed he would even lay his life down for Jesus. Peter, even knowing that he would one day die for the Love of Jesus, was willing to commit to Him. This is what Jesus meant by His statement in John 21:18-19: “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’” It should be so with us as well. Woodrow Kroll says it like this: “When it comes to God’s commands, the issue is not clarity; it’s commitment.”
If we’re going to be successful God’s way we must be committed to each other, we must understand God’s commitment to us, and in-turn we must be committed to God His way.
If you haven’t taken the first step in being successful God’s way, please click here.