By Evan Pyle


How many times have you been encouraged to make a commitment to a cause or belief? Indeed, salvation messages are often concluded with an invitation to “make a commitment to Christ.” In much of modern life, whether in business or education, friendships or family, commitment is the glue that holds these pursuits together. Yet, it is somewhat startling to discover that the concept of commitment is absent from the Bible. Indeed, the common meaning for commitment, “a pledge of an undertaking,” is of recent origin. As recently as the original 1828 Noah Webster dictionary, the primary meaning for commitment was “the act of sending to prison.” I would like to submit to you, dear reader, that commitment may send you to a prison of sorts, a prison of your own making. By it you are imprisoned to your own self-will and self-determination.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Wait a minute, Evan, the Bible is full of ‘commit’ and ‘committed’. How is this different from commitment?” Good question. When referring to the inner condition of our heart, “commit” carries quite a different meaning from “commitment.” Would some scriptural examples help you?

Genesis 39:8, 22:
But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.

Joseph was found to be so utterly trustworthy that both Potiphar and the prison guard turned their affairs over to Joseph, fully confident that their matters would be handled as they should. In both cases their trust was so complete that they no longer had knowledge of the details. Knowing that Joseph was in charge and took care of the details was assurance enough.

Are you a “take-charge” kind of person in your own life? I know that I am. I find it difficult to let go of the details of my life and leave the Lord fully in charge.

Psalm 37:5:
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Proverbs 16:3:
Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Fully trusting the Lord will help establish our thoughts on a solid foundation. We all struggle with our thoughts, which is why Paul exhorts us to lead every thought captive to Christ’s obedience. But never think yourself defeated by sin or Satan because you struggle with your thoughts. Or, worse yet, never think that you are defeating sin or Satan merely by your correct thoughts. This is deception. How did Jesus fight Satan’s temptation? “It is written,” Jesus said.

For us to be able to freely commit ourselves in trust to another, that “other” must be faithful. (Lk. 16:11; Jn. 2:24). Consider God’s faithfulness:

1 Peter 4:19:
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

In my experience “commitment,” or “Christian bravura” is often a poor substitute for committing oneself in trust and faith to the Faithful Lord. Why would you or I have trouble trusting him who is so faithful? May I suggest that it is because we really don’t trust him? The bottom line is that, in our heart of hearts, God seems capricious and unpredictable. He seems like a pagan god that needs to be appeased for all to go well. We feel betrayed because he hasn’t healed us, because we still struggle, and we wonder and agonize over what we are doing wrong. Our lives too often seem mundane and unproductive, not heroic and noble like we envisioned. This eats at the core of our faith and we lose heart. We are quietly brokenhearted. The hidden implication, too painful to face or articulate, is that God doesn’t really love us after all. Such knowledge is too painful to face and we turn away in denial. We instead construct a false religion based on commitment, moral perfection and “good Christianity.” Sadly, we bury our hearts. We are like the child who blinks back tears after a particularly cruel teasing. We put on a good face, but our view of life is forever affected by the hurt.

Isaiah 29:13:
Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

In truth, from my human perspective, God seems almost reckless and unpredictable. It seems dangerous to trust my life to him. How can I trust such a God? More yet, how can I love him? The answer is, I must come to know his heart. But how can I know his heart when he seems so in-charge, distant, even calculating? After all, he predestined me, as the Bible says (Eph. 1:3).

When I see my wife I think I understand true love. She is faithful, yes. But we also share a warmth, openness and closeness, yes, even intimacy, due to our close relationship as husband and wife. Shouldn’t a similar intimacy translate into my relationship with God?

The answer is, in Christ it DOES translate. Jesus’ incarnation is God’s tangible love gift to you, me, and to all humanity. Though God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts, is there any mistaking Jesus’ motives? Jesus wept. A disciple felt so close and comfortable to Jesus he rested against Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper. Jesus took the children up into his arms to bless them. He then showed you and me the ultimate proof of his love by suffering the horrors and indignities of Calvary, all to pay for our own unfaithfulness.

John 15:13:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Shouldn’t we then ask, how do we come to know Jesus so well that we trust him unreservedly and feel this close to him? To have this sweet fellowship we must have something more than a knowledge about Jesus. We must come to know him personally, as we would a personal friend (Jn. 15:15). To know Jesus, we must first come to the Bible:

John 20:31:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Thus we will come to know Jesus’ character. Our natural faith response will be to keep his sayings:

John 15:10-12:
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

John 14:23:
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

In keeping Jesus’ words we come into a precious and intimate relationship with God. Our arid heart is refreshed. Our joyless Christianity is replaced with heavenly joy and supernatural love.



From the March 2003 issue of The Vine & Branches