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Christian Commitment in Action

(1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)

Lesson 4 -- third quarter 2010
June 27, 2010

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2010

Introductory questions to chew

"Ye ought to walk and to please God" -- How do I go about doing that in a manner that "abound[s] more and more"?

What do I know about possessing my "vessel in sanctification and honour"?

"God hath...called us...unto holiness" -- How does my Christian commitment put that into action?

God's commitment to me includes giving me His Holy Spirit. What do I include in my commitment to Him?

Am I committed to brotherly love "toward all the brethren"?

Do I make my "daily work" express my Christian commitment?

The Will of God

"For this is the will of God...." (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

Wow! How often I have wished to have it given to me that clearly and that directly.

Most of the time, I've been left with the wish . . . and with the task to "figure out" God's will without that clear, direct word.

It strikes me, though, that determining God's will for those "most of the time" situations would be greatly simplified if I faithfully lived my His already-revealed will.

For example, He clearly says I ought to return good for evil. Much less clear to me is whether we should return to Mexico as missionaries. It seems my first priority should be to live by His clearly-revealed will. That will "equip" me for correctly discerning His will in other areas.

Oh, and what's the rest of the above thought?

" . . . even your sanctification . . . that ye should abstain from fornication . . . That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour." (4).

Renewing promises

Commitments and covenants. How many have you signed to in your lifetime? "Not many," you say? Think! I have signed driver's license forms, temporary vehicle importation permits, passport documents, credit card applications, income tax returns, and a marriage license.

I have also made some unsigned commitments and covenants. I surrendered my life to Jesus. I promised fidelity to the church. I have taken marriage vows. I was commissioned as a missionary to Mexico.

These are all significant commitments and covenants. But no matter how genuine and sincere they may have been at the time, having made them once does not guarantee that I will keep them. Unless there is a periodic (even daily) reminder of these commitments and covenants, I will become nonchalant and careless about faithfully following through with them. I believe God expects us to often reaffirm and strengthen our commitments and covenants.

Periodic reminders and repeated reaffirmations are most effective when they take the form of simple life expressions of the "main" vow. Take my marriage vows to Ruby. Sure, I promised to care for her. Does she want me to take her hands, look her in the eye, and repeat that part of the vows...every single day? I doubt it! But each time I...insist she go to chiropractor...buy her prenatal vitamins...pay the rent on time... help her with the dishes unexpectedly...forego breakfast so she doesn't have to get up so early...warm up the car on a freezing morning...make sure the van is running properly before she goes 40 miles to visit her sister...I am reaffirming that vow!

I also believe that God is interested in establishing maturing covenants with His people. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that God desires parallel agreements. God doesn't want a single, static covenant and no more. When I gave my life to Jesus, I offered him a sort of blanket surrender; I yielded all of me. But in the last 30 or so years, He has lead me to additional "side deals": I won't accept government economic help, I will obey whatever the Bible teaches, I will not amass a lot of possessions, I will burn myself out for the Kingdom, I will always speak the truth, I will not keep a vehicle that becomes more to me than a mode of transportation.

Besides that blanket surrender and a host of side deals, I also want to give the Lord daily "by product" commitments. If I have to be in an area where I will be exposed to indecency, I want to again vow purity of thought as well as vowing eyeball control. If I have been reading too much "non-productive" material, I want to promise abstinence from it for a certain lengthy period. If I know I will be getting showered with compliments and commendations, I want to reaffirm my commitment to meekness and humility. If I anticipate opposition from someone, I want to be ready with forgiveness, love, and grace. If I have had a rough day at work, I want to commit myself to a patient spirit and controlled tongue when I get home.

A workable, working Christian commitment builds on the initial surrender to God.

This concludes my comments based on the passage for the International Bible Study. To read my comments on the alternate lesson developed by Christian Light Publications, click here: An Example of the Believers.

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