This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Fulfilling commitments

Our commitments to God need to be realistic.

God has uniquely designed each of us to make contributions to God’s kingdom that requires making and fulfilling commitments. When we make a commitment, we have a responsibility to keep it, but that’s not always easy.

In today’s society, commitment is a word that isn’t taken very seriously. But God takes it seriously. And the commitments we make in this world will only be as strong as our commitment to God.

How strong is your commitment to the Lord? Is it strong enough that you can endure suffering? Is it strong enough to ensure your part in carrying out the commission of Christ to make disciples of all the nations—no matter what comes against you?
Total commitment requires sacrifice, dedication, discipline and perseverance—things many people, even Christians, are unwilling to put forth.

When we make a commitment, we must understand that we’re in it for the long haul. Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, often look for the easy way, the short cut, the smooth path. Instead, we need to be committed to whatever it takes to do the things God wants done.

There are many obstacles that can prevent us from completing the tasks set before us—if we let them. Some of those obstacles include:

Busyness without clear vision and purpose. We can oftentimes become so intent on a frantic pace of doing that we bypass the real issues of life in Christ.

I once knew my walk-in closet needed a thorough cleaning out, but I was so overwhelmed by the enormity of it all that I didn’t know what to do or where to begin.
After I spent some time in prayer, God gave me a clear vision concerning cleaning out the “garbage” in my spiritual life as well as my physical closet—both included getting rid of anything that was unnecessary, unused or in excess. Once my purpose and vision was clear, the task took on new life, and I was able to continue even when the job seemed insurmountable.

Fear can also prevent us from persevering in our appointed tasks. Fear controlled Jonah as he ran from God. The events of the days following his time in the storm and in the belly of the fish were pure terror. Even in his eventual obedience he could not fully commit himself to God’s plan and cause.

Fear has often been instrumental in my own lack of stepping out to do some things I know I should do. Because of fear, I would often avoid making a commitment at all. But sometimes we just have to take a leap of faith and leave the results up to God. I am learning to do it, afraid if that’s what it takes.

Spiritual coldness may also squelch our fire to start or finish specific tasks. The coldness may creep in so subtly that we don’t recognize it until we’re way off course.

A lack of desire for God and his Word results in a lack of desire to obey and serve God. We become spiritually insensitive—paralyzed from keeping previous commitments and prevented from making others.

Ungodly influence can affect how we think and act in our Christian life. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Even some Christians may try to convince us that being lukewarm is acceptable.

As we seek to fulfill our commitments, it’s important to find people who challenge our spiritual walk as “iron sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17 KJV).
Strong fellow Christians will enable us to finish the various tasks we need to do.

Laziness will likewise keep us from fulfilling commitments. Physical and spiritual laziness robs us of vitality. I know that when I was at my unhealthiest physically, I was unable to complete certain tasks or even start others due to my being “unfit” for kingdom work.

Of course, laziness isn’t always just referring to physical health. Often it expresses itself by filling our time with worldly or selfish pursuits such as excessive television viewing, hobbies, sports, or materialism. Satan will tempt us to do anything—or nothing at all—just to keep us from completing God’s will.

When we commit to something, it’s important that we first count the cost. There’s nothing worse than making a commitment we can’t keep because we discover after the fact that we just didn’t have the necessary resources to fulfill the commitment. Counting the cost before we commit will enable us to fulfill the commitments we do choose to take on and bring glory to God in the process.

Before committing, take inventory of your spiritual reserves as well. Frequent times of prayer, Bible study and reflection are essential if we are to fulfill our commitments. Even Jesus made sure his spiritual reservoir was replenished. He dealt with abundant needs, yet he protected his time alone with his Father. We should never take on so many commitments that we don’t have time to nourish our relationship with the Lord.

To honor our commitments, we must first honor our limits. The question is not whether we will draw the line, but where we will draw the line. As we accept the reality of our limitations, we find we don’t have to respond to every need or accept every invitation.
If you find yourself faced with a commitment that you’re unable to fulfill, be honest about it. Ask for help. Admit you failed to count the cost or ran into unforeseen circumstances and be honest about your needs. State specifically what it would take for the commitment to be brought to completion.

Sometimes when commitments are ongoing it can be hard to continue with the same enthusiasm we started out with. Even my two oldest children have discovered this. Each year as we count down the last dozen or so days of our homeschool year, my kids’ work tends to get sloppier and more incomplete. They just want to be finished. It’s a struggle—but a worthwhile one—to get them to finish as strong as they started.
Scripture encourages us to run the race in such a way as to receive the prize (see 1 Corinthians 9:25). We can pray and ask God to replace our lost motivation with a new fervor to fulfill the commitments we have made.

Paul put a high premium on stick-to-itiveness. He wasn’t big on those with a lack of commitment (see 2 Timothy 4:10, 16). Paul knew the value of total commitment and encouraged others, such as Timothy, not to be quitters. Paul knew that only the truly committed are truly effective.

As we first count the cost before committing and practice discernment when choosing our commitments, we can be assured that those things we commit to are truly God’s will for us at this time. Then, as we rely on the Holy Spirit, we can be sure we will have the strength, time and resources to fulfill those commitments.

Tammy Darling lives in Three Springs, Pa.

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