Is there still commitment in our day? This article explains the meaning of commitment in friendship, workplace, marriage, and church.

Source: Clarion, 2015. 3 pages.

Commitment Is the word "commitment" still recognized by us?

Is there still such a thing?โค’๐Ÿ”—

One has to wonder whether or not there is still such a thing as true commitment today. Of course there is lots of false commitment in the sense that many people are dedicated to themselves, to their own agendas, aspirations, and pleasures. However, true commitment is not a self-centered business. It is other centred. It often comes at a considerable cost to oneself. It describes a dedication or loyalty that puts the other person or cause first and foremost.

If you need an example of that, think of Jonathan, son of Saul, mentioned in the Old Testament (1 Sam 20). He is not just a royal son, he is also the royal heir. When his father dies, he is supposed to assume the throne of Israel. Nevertheless, the Lord God in his infinite wisdom, decides otherwise. He rejects Saul as king and has David anointed as the new heir. Needless to say, this has tremendous repercussions for Jonathan. Legally and in the eyes of the people, he is still the rightful heir, but that is no longer how God sees it. David has supplanted Jonathan.

What is Jonathan's reaction? Is it one of bitterness and jealousy, of hatred and scheming? In other words, does he act like his father? No, the Scriptures tell us that Jonathan loves David as a friend and brother. He also realizes that the kingship is not something that David wanted or expected, but that this is God's doing alone. David is the divinely-appointed heir and Jonathan both recognizes this and submits himself to it.

In summary, then, Jonathan remains a committed friend to David. What God has done and what his father is doing, or trying to do to David, does not change their relationship or their covenant of friendship. Jonathan represents the loyal friend and the dedicated brother. He shows us what true commitment is all about, and in the process he points us forward to that ultimate figure of commitment, namely Jesus Christ our Lord. His commitment to his followers is so deep that even the horrors of hell and the curse of the cross could not alter it.

Therefore, in the biblical context the word "commitment" represents a noble quality. Indeed, we are led to think not only of a Jonathan, but also of such figures as Abraham, Ruth, Hannah, Elijah and a host of others. Consider the list in Hebrews 11.

Yet that was then and this is now. How is it with us today? Is the word "commitment" still recognized by us? Is it still embraced, adopted and applied? Or is it so that commitment has given way to convenience?

In the workplaceโ†โค’๐Ÿ”—

One can think here in practical terms of the work place. Just how do we see our work and how do we see our relationship to our boss or employer? Does commitment still play a role here or is it a case of reluctant tolerance and simply putting up with a bad situation in the sense of "I need to eat and support myself and my family, and he needs to make a profit?" I suspect that for many people work is no longer about commitment at all. It's about doing what you have to do. It's all about just making a living.

At the same time there is little real thought to doing one's best, developing one's talents, respecting one's employer, and promoting one's company.

How distant such an approach is from what the Bible teaches. I am thinking here of what the Apostle Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus, even to slaves and masters. He tells the Christians who are slaves to "serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men..." (Eph6:7). He tells the Christians who are masters to treat their slaves with respect and care (Eph 6:5, 9).

So what are Christian workers, even slaves, to do? They are to do their work with gusto. They are to work as committed people. They are to see beyond their employers and view their daily work as divine labour. And what are Christian employers to do? They are to deal with their employees, even their slaves, in a spirit of equality and fairness.

The biblical model is thus all about being committed to one's work, to one's employer, to one's employees. It does not major in mediocrity. It does not encourage a culture of complaint, much less an adversarial posture. It calls on all of us as believers, employees and employers alike, to re-examine just how we go about doing our daily work.

In marriage and familyโ†โค’๐Ÿ”—

Commitment, however, should thrive in more than just our work place. It should also thrive in our marriages and families. When it comes to marriage the Apostle Paul has some fitting words for husbands and wives (see: Eph 5).

He urges the latter to be committed to the principle and practice of submissiveness. Wives are not allowed to do their own thing and ignore the standing and the feelings of their husbands. They are to see to it that their husbands lead and they are to help them to lead well.

At the same time Paul urges the husbands to love their wives. Which is harder, by the way, to submit or to love? In any case, the point is that husbands are called on to love their wives not as the world loves, but as Christ loved and still loves his church, meaning sacrificially.

But while Paul is dealing with mutual marriage commitment here, he is also dealing with something else. He is dealing with commitment to one's family. Parents are to promote the well-being of their children and children are to honour and esteem their parents.

Now all of that represents the biblical viewpoint, but what is the worldly reality? Sadly, we live in an age in which there is a decline, if not an absence, of commitment. People marry and make all kinds of fancy vows to one another, but no sooner is their relationship put to the test, and they bail out. They are done. They have had enough. The "D" (divorce) word is pursued. Little do they realize that it is better in so many ways to work through your differences, as hard as that may sometimes be, than to drown them in legal fees. They fail to see that a much better case can be made against it then for it. Try harder. Dig deeper. Pray more. These are all better options.

And what about the family? What about commitment to one's children? So often that too is sacrificed on the altar of personal pleasure, wants, and agendas. Our Western world is filled today with single parent homes. The mothers are doing all the heavy lifting and the fathers are out gallivanting around. Meanwhile, the government (and that really means the rest of us taxpayers) is doing all of the paying. Such a development does not bode well at all when it comes to the promotion of a happy, productive, and law abiding society.

In the churchโ†โค’๐Ÿ”—

Yet if commitment is on the decline in the work places and in the homes of the nation, what about in the churches? If you would expect it to be thriving anywhere, it would be here. Right? After all, Christians march to the tune of a different drummer. They serve a higher Master. They follow a nobler agenda. Surely here commitment is alive and well.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there is an ever increasing indication that even in the church it is on the decline. Reginald Bibby, the well-known Canadian sociologist of religion in Canada, was once asked to explain the growth of the evangelical movement. He replied that it was due to "the procreation and the circulation of the saints." In other words, Christians have more babies and Christians change their church address often.

Now, I am not so sure that the former is still true. The last time that I looked at the data it indicated that there was little or no difference between the birth rate in the church or in the world. This is, of course, not to say that the world has caught up to the church but rather that the church has dumbed down to the world.

But then there is also the latter phenomenon, namely "circulating saints." That too has changed in that it has accelerated. My, my, my, are the saints ever circulating today! Then they are Baptist, then they are Alliance, a little later on they are Community Church, still later they are Presbyterian. Always moving, never settling down anywhere for long.

Is it because they are seeking more truth from the pulpit, fewer decibels from the band, greater love from their fellow saints? Usually not. More often, they are doing so because their ears are itchy for new things, their eyes long to gaze at nicer and better-looking pastors, their hearts yearn for more stimulating surroundings. "It's all about the worship experience," you know.

Is it really? I must be greatly mistaken. I thought that church was all about serving the Lord, about worshipping God in spirit and in truth, about using your gifts and talents to improve the communion, about being Christian in meekness, humility, patience, and service. In other words, it's not a case of "what can the church do for me?" but rather "what can I do for the church?"

Commitment, again! Just how committed are we to promoting the unity and the welfare of the local church of Jesus Christ?

Of course, this does not mean that you need to stick with a certain church โ€” no matter what. No, there are valid reasons for departure as when error trumps truth, worldliness blows away holiness, and spiritual dictatorship torpedoes biblical leadership.

Yet these are rarely the reasons that people cite today for leaving. It's a lot less principled and a great deal more emotional than that.

Too bleak a picture?โ†โค’๐Ÿ”—

Am I painting too bleak a picture? Perhaps, but I doubt it. In this world true commitment is in danger of going the way of model T Ford. Should that lead us to despair? No, for God is still active in the hearts and lives of his saints as they work, as they marry, and as they parent. The church of Jesus Christ as well continues to be under his special care. He preserves a remnant. And they will receive the strength to let their light shine, also the light of true and abiding commitment. May you be among their number!

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