Monday, August 24, 2009

Contribution or Commitment?

Both are big words that start with a “C”, but the difference between the two goes much further than the two letters in their length. Here is the example I like to use in explaining the difference between the two concepts:

Have you ever had a breakfast of eggs and bacon? Well, there were a couple of animals involved in providing you with that breakfast. Some hen made a contribution to your meal, but to some hog, somewhere, it involved a commitment! Providing you with those eggs cost the chicken very little, but “bringing home the bacon” cost the hog everything.

Commitment is a concept that is rapidly fading from the scene in our current culture.

You see this truth everywhere. Many people are not as committed to their jobs as folks were in previous generations. Absenteeism and poor quality in goods and services are often evidence of that lack of commitment. Commitment to the institution of marriage is also suspect. Even though the vows are repeated that say “until death do us part” the reality is that more than half of all marriages in 2009 will end in divorce. Coaches tell us that the commitment level of student athletes toward training, practice, and scholastic excellence, is far below the levels of those of the previous generation. Military recruiters also are having an increasingly more difficult time signing up young men and women for our armed services, due to the commitment involved with making such a decision.

Sadly, the decline of commitment also shows up among many professing Christians in their relationship with God and toward His church. Every year in churches all across America, it becomes more and more difficult to find people who are willing to commit to serving the Lord through His church as teachers, deacons, musicians, volunteers, and ministry leaders. This is not because there are not enough qualified folks for the jobs, but because so many church members do not want to make the commitment. The attitude that “someone else will do it, I’m too busy” seems to prevail and this is truly sad.

In my 38 years of ministry, I have come to the conclusion that a lack of commitment to the church is simply a visible symptom of a lack of commitment to our God. Take a moment to think about this. How much time to you spend alone with God in prayer? How much time to you devote to the reading and application of His Word? How serious are you about doing your part to fulfill His Great Commission? How important are missions? Are you teaching your children and grand children the importance of God in your life and in theirs? (Deut. 6)

In the Bible, King David, had sinned against God through an act of selfish disobedience. We read the sad narrative in 2 Samuel 24. When tragedy resulted, David repented of that sin. He sought to purchase a piece of ground where he might erect an altar to worship and offer sacrifice to his Heavenly Father. The owner of the property graciously offered the land to the King at no charge. David’s reply was simple, strong and poignant. “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (vs 24, HCSB)
David understood that serving God was more than what I use to hear Leroy Forlines refer to as “cheap easy believe-ism”. Following Christ involves commitment. If you do not think so, check out the words of Christ in the four Gospels.

He called men to “follow Him”. Many of them left jobs, security, family businesses, and comfort zones, for the joy of following Jesus. He spoke of “denying oneself and taking up a cross”. He cautioned would be followers to “count the cost”. He warned half hearted followers that families, personal preferences, and comfort issues were not negotiable. Quitting along the way is not an acceptable option. He talked of a merchant who bought and sold pearls, and when that merchant found that “one pearl of great price”, he sold everything he had that he might obtain that prize. Jesus spoke of vines and branches, and that we must ABIDE in Him. The branches are not alive unless they abide in the vine.

Paul the Apostle said that all that was once important to him, he counted but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord. Paul, a formerly “religious” man, found that religion alone would not be enough. He learned that a relationship is required, and that his desire was to know Jesus, “In the power of His resurrection and in the fellowship of His suffering”. Many weak believers today want to experience that “pentecostal power”, but have no desire to know the weight of His cross. Dad use to refer to that as “Brylcreme Religion” (a little dab will do you).

Aren’t you thankful that Jesus was willing to commit to you? Aren’t you glad that He “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phil. 2:7-8 (NKJV)
I ask you today. Are you making contributions to the cause of Christ or have you made a commitment? Have you committed to Him your time, talents, and treasures? May God help us to check our commitment. Not for our own sakes, not even for your church’s sake, but for Christ’s sake.
Let’s “bring home the bacon”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A beautiful and inspiring story and exhortation!