If you don’t seriously face God’s call for you, that is a terrible sin and tragedy. Scripture says that the time is short. God has given us an open door, and He has given us the tools and the technology to touch the whole world if you and I mean business.
Christian commitment is like a marathon race. There are fresh, eager faces as the gun sounds to begin the race, but along the grueling, 26-mile route, one person after another drops out before the finish.
Time after time, the Bible turns our attention to God’s faithfulness to us and to the supernatural life He produces in us through the power of His Holy Spirit. Philippians 1:6 is one of my life verses: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” It is God’s faithfulness to us that undergirds and empowers our faithfulness to Him.
But our faithfulness to Christ and service to Him are also important. The Bible reminds us that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful, and true biblical faithfulness is more than just showing up for work as Christians and performing our required duties.
Four things should characterize our faithfulness to Christ. First is joy. Faithfulness without joy becomes drudgery. The psalmist said, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You” (Psalm 51:12-13).
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). God wants us to have full joy.
Nehemiah said, “For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). The joy of the Lord, produced by the Holy Spirit, is a supernatural joy. It helps us to endure. Oh, the joy of serving Christ!
Second is compassion. This means to suffer with another. It means that when another person experiences pain or sorrow, we feel that pain.
Throughout the Gospels we read that Jesus was moved with compassion–for the multitudes, for two blind men, for a leper, for a widow whose only son had died. He wept over the city of Jerusalem and at the grave of His friend Lazarus.
Yet the disciples had a difficult time learning this quality of compassion. When people in one village did not welcome Jesus, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54).
Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:56). The place to learn compassion is here, right now. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate” (1 Peter 3:8, NIV).
Our ministry is trying to do all we can for those suffering in the world. Wherever there is an emergency, we try to be there. When people give to our World Emergency Fund, the donation goes 100 percent for relief.
Third is vision–vision with a purpose and a plan. There is much to be said for having a global picture of God’s work today. Without it we can develop a narrow focus on our ministry and our place of service.
V. Raymond Edman, a former president of Wheaton College in Illinois, used to get up early every morning and pray for a different continent. He would pray all across that continent–for missionaries and Christians, for people he knew. You can take a country, take a different place every day, and pray.
But there is something more important than a vision of our work, and that is maintaining a vision of the One we are serving. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
The most important thing in our Christian lives is a daily walk with Christ, and that begins with your quiet time. Without a daily time of personal fellowship with Christ, it is likely that you will become a spiritual casualty in the next 10 years. Start the day with Christ. When you wake up, let your first thoughts be of Christ.
We need a vision–a vision of starving people around the world, a vision of the terrible events after a nuclear holocaust, a vision of the social injustices in the world, a vision of what racial prejudice does, a vision of the judgment in hell that awaits men and women who have rejected Christ, a vision of heaven and the joys and glories there. But most of all, we need a vision of the cross and the resurrection.
Fourth is commitment. In Mark 10:17-22, we read of Jesus’ encounter with a man we know as the rich young ruler. Mark tells us that this man ran to Jesus and fell on his knees. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” When Jesus recited a number of the commandments, the rich young ruler said, “All these things I have kept.” The Bible tells us that “Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor … and come, take up the cross, and follow me.'” The man’s face fell. The Scriptures say he was sad because he was so attached to material possessions.
In terms of keeping the commandments, the rich young ruler was faithful, but he was not willing to commit himself to Christ unreservedly.
You have to make a choice. For some of you it is between life and death, because you are not absolutely sure that you know Christ as your Savior. You cannot say, “I know for sure that Christ is in my heart; that if I die, I will go to heaven; that my sins are forgiven.”
What do you have to do? First, you need to repent of your sins. Repent means to turn, to change–to change your mind about God, about what sin has done to you, and about Christ, who died for you on the cross. It means to change your way of living. You cannot repent by yourself. The Holy Spirit has to help you repent. Just pray, “Lord, here am I with all these doubts. I am not sure, not certain. Help me to repent and change my way of living.”
After repentance you need to believe and have faith. Faith means putting your total weight upon Christ, trusting in nothing else–not your own goodness, not your own righteousness, not your church, but totally in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who hung on that cross and shed His blood for you.
Then you need to follow Him and to study the Scriptures, to pray, to be faithful to Him.
Jim Elliot went from Wheaton College to be a missionary in Ecuador. When he tried to reach the Waodani Indians, he was martyred, along with four other missionaries. Before he died, he had written, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Are you willing to serve God wholeheartedly so that the Gospel may be taken around the world? “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race,” said the Apostle Paul, “and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24, NIV).