Erwin McManus tells about his father who had abandoned his family when he was a young boy. Later in life he had an opportunity to connect with that man, and he took his son Arron with him to meet him. As the conversation ended, his father called back to Arron, “I don’t know what your father has told you, but he was just average. His brother was exceptional, but not your Dad.”
Erwin says, “Those words cut me like a knife. Don’t misunderstand me. What hurt most was not that those were the last words my father chose to say to me. Nor was I most hurt because my son heard this judgment. What cut me deepest was the terrifying sense that Bill McManus was right, that I was average.”
Being average should terrify you, too. Without commitment, you will live an average life. I don’t believe that anyone is born average. I do believe that many of us choose to live a life of mediocrity. I think there are more of us than not who are in danger of disappearing into the abyss of the ordinary. The great tragedy is there is nothing ordinary about us. We might not be convinced of it, but our hearts already know it is true. This is why we find ourselves tormented and frustrated when we choose to live beneath our capacities and callings.
Here is the painful reality: We will find ourselves defined by the average if we do not choose to defy the odds. Odds are that you and I will fall at average. That’s why it’s called average - it’s where most of us live. To be above average demands a choice to run with commitment. You have no control of whether you have been given above average talent or intelligence or physical attributes. But I want to challenge you to take absolute control over your personal responsibility to develop and maximize whatever potential God has given you for the good of others. I want to challenge you to raise the bar of our expectations of ourselves. We must refuse to be average. We think average is always a safe choice. It actually is the most dangerous choice we can make. While average protects us from the risk of failure, it also separates from future of greatness.
2 Chronicles 15 tells us of a king named Asa. A prophet spoke to him and said, "The Lord is with you if you will be with Him and if you seek Him, He will be found of you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (v.2). When Asa heard this, he immediately went to set things in order spiritually throughout the land. He even removed his mother from a prominent position. Can you imagine how well that went over? In seeking the Lord completely, God honored him and prospered him; he became wealthy.
Yet in his prosperity he forsook the Lord and began to rely on his own wealth and power. He made a pact with the King of Syria instead of trusting in the Lord. The prophet showed up again and spoke these words: “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” 2 Chronicles 16:9. I wish I could say that Asa turned to the Lord but he didn’t and it not only impacted him but all who he was leading. You and I need to consider what he did not - if God strengthens those whose hearts are fully committed to Him, what is it that I need to know and do to make sure my heart is fully committed to God?
What is commitment? Intent reveals desire. Action reveals commitment. Are you a person of desire? Or are you a person of commitment? You can have good feelings and want good things, and even feel good about yourself because you have these feelings. It’s easy to be deceived because you have those feelings. Intent does not define you. Your commitment does.
You can't live without making commitments. You can't buy a house without making a 10, 15 or 30-year commitment. You can't get married without making a commitment to get a license, a ring, blood tests, place to live, etc. You can't even get a driver's license without making some kind of commitment like a driver's education course. Nothing great ever happens without making commitments.
My commitments reveal my VALUES. (Matthew 6:24)
They show what I really think is important, what I really value, what I really love. There is no such thing as love without commitment. The essence of love is a commitment of oneself to that person, to meeting the needs of that person. That's what love is all about.
I may say something is important to me, but the way I commit my time and my money shows what is really important. I may say, for instance, that my family is important to me. But if I commit all my time to my work, and none of my time is committed to my family, it shows what's really important. If I say my health is important to me, but I don't commit any of my time to taking care of myself, then it means that my health is not really important to me. The uncommitted life really means nothing is important to me. If you don't make any commitments in life, you're basically saying, "The only thing that's important to me, is me." The uncommitted life in its essence is pure selfishness.
My commitments shape my LIFE. (Proverbs 4:23)
Your life is the sum total of your commitments. If I believe that making money is the most important thing in life, then my life is going to be shaped by that. If I believe that being well liked and being popular is important, then my life is going to be shaped by that. If I think that having a good time is the most important thing in life, then my life will be shaped by that.
If I were able to sit down with you and have a thirty-minute conversation and I say, "Tell me your commitments. Tell me what you're committed to right now.” I could tell you what you're going to become in life. I could tell you what you are now. I could tell you what you're going to be. I could tell you how you're going to end up if you live to old age. How? Because once you choose your commitments in life, your character is set. So, you’d better choose your commitments carefully. And if you've never thought those things through, you may not like how you're going to end up if you haven't looked at those commitments.
My commitments determine my REWARDS. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Jesus said it like this, "What will a man give in exchange for his soul?" That's a very important question because every day of your life you're exchanging your life for something. When you make a commitment, you're choosing how you're going to invest your life. You're choosing how you're going to spend your time. You're choosing how you're going to use your resources.
And every choice has a consequence. It may seem an insignificant choice, but in the grand scheme of things they all add up and all involve your time and they all influence eternity. The choices and the commitments I make will show my values, will shape my life and will determine my destiny.It's very important that we learn to make wise commitments. Every commitment make, has a price tag to it. You have to weigh out the benefits and the payoff compared to the price tag on it.
The most important commitment you will ever make is following Christ. What is the price tag? What are the costs of following Christ? Jesus is very up front about it. "If you want to be My follower you must love Me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters - yes, more than your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26 NLT).
Realize The Price Of Commitment.
Jesus is saying, "I expect to have first place in your life. You have to love Me more than anybody or anything else if you want to be My follower." That's pretty audacious. No human being would ever say that to you. Jesus Christ demands total and complete loyalty. The only difference is, He has a right to it. Why? He made you. He created you. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. He died on the cross for you. Nobody else has done that. Nobody else can claim those three things - that you were made by them, that you were planned for a purpose by them, and that they died for you. Jesus says, "I gave My life for you. I expect your life in return."
Some people imagine their life as a pie and Jesus is a slice of that pie - a career slice, a relationship slice, a sex-life slice, a goals and ambitions and dreams slice, a family slice, and my Jesus slice. It's called compartmentalization. Jesus says, "No thank you. I don't want to be a slice of your life. I don't want to be a part of your life. I want to be number one."
Jesus Christ is either Lord of your life or He's not Lord of your life. You either are committed or you are not. Don't kid yourself. When I am fully committed and he has first place:
• I Give God the First THOUGHTS of Each Day.
That’s why we encourage you to read the dailies. Here’s a secret to a mood lifter, a mood enhancer. Talk to God before you talk to anybody else each day. Read the good news before you read the bad news in the paper. It will help you keep everything in focus and realize who's in charge.
• I Give God the First DAY of Every Week.
Why? Because Jesus Christ rose from the died on Sunday. It's called Easter. We celebrate Easter every Sunday. Because it's the first day of the week and we want to give God the first thought of every day and the first day of every week. We call it The Lord's Day.
• I Give God the First 10% of Every Paycheck.
"Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income" (Proverbs 3:9 LB). “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives” Deuteronomy 14:23 (TLB). “Prioritize” means you give off the top before you pay the mortgage or buy groceries. Giving off the top can help minimize fear because you don’t have to worry about things at the end of the month when you have already given priority to ministries that help advance the Kingdom of God. “Percentage” means set a certain percentage of your income to give away on a consistent basis. Even if you can only give 1% commit to a percentage and stick to it. “Progressive” means you remain open to God growing and stretching you in the area of giving. It consistently challenges us to grow in our faith towards God in the area of finances and resources. It also consistently challenges us towards living lives that are generous towards God and others.
• I Give God the First CONSIDERATION in Every Decision.
"In everything you do, put God first and He will direct you..." (Proverbs 3:5-6 LB).
Satan knows commitment is the way to winning is this life and the next. So, he will try to CONFUSE me or trip me with COMPLACENCY (Mark 4:19). God promises to assume RESPONSIBILITY for your needs in this life (Matthew 6:31-33). God takes full responsibility for the man or woman who is fully surrendered to Him. And, God will REWARD you in the life to come! (Matthew 25:23)
So, I urge you—RUN with COMMITMENT. "Give yourselves completely to God -- every part of you... you want to be tools in the hands of God, to be used for His good purposes" (Romans 6:13b LB).