Staying Committed, Part 4 of 5 – Guidelines for Godly Commitment

In order to stay committed and to keep commitments, we need to focus on full commitment to God and on living according to His Great Expectations with regard to the commitments we make. There’s no other way to truly stay committed. They are the standards by which He expects us to live.

Fortunately, we have many Biblical Lessons on Commitment to help us learn how to live according to His Great Expectations. In addition to these lessons, we now look at some guidelines the Bible gives us for keeping commitments in a way that honors God by Staying in the Boat.

5 Guidelines for Making Godly Commitments

  1. Make sure beliefs and commitments line up with each other (1 Timothy 4:16). Life sure is less complicated when what we believe and what we do don’t contradict each other. Not only do we feel more grounded, but our kids and those we are around the most feel more secure knowing what to expect from us.
  2. Stay committed to decisions but allow for flexibility in your approach (Proverbs 16:9). We need to make plans and to stay organized, but we also need to realize that God may redirect us at times or that we may be off on our plans. Other people can cause a change in plans too. Stay flexible.
  3. Be very careful with your words (Matthew 5:34-37). Our words are very important to God, so we certainly need to avoid making promises based on good intentions. Once a promise is made, it should be kept. Afraid of breaking promises? Be sure you can keep it before you make it.
  4. Ask God’s direction before committing (Joshua 9:14). Joshua promised the Edomites protection without consulting God. Had He talked to God first, Joshua most likely would not have fallen for their lies. Take time before committing, and don’t answer rashly based on emotion or pressure. Ask for time before making a commitment.
  5. Avoid over-commitment (1 Peter 4:8-11). Do you find yourself breaking commitments on a regular basis? Maybe you just put them off a lot or keep forgetting about them? If “rush” is your only speed, you’re probably over-committing yourself. Being committed is not necessarily about making commitments. In fact, I find that the fewer commitments I make, the more committed I am able to be.

Don’t Jump Out of the Boat!

When we feel overwhelmed with life rushing in, we sometimes feel like jumping out of the boat all together. Just escape in any way possible. But that’s not God’s desire for our lives.

We need discernment, prayer, caution & accountability in order to stay committed. We need room (margin) in our days, weeks, months, years & lives in order to keep the commitments we make.

Over-commitment not only leads to a desire to abandon ship, it also can lead to damaging our integrity, through the damaging of relationships and our own ability to spiritually, physically and mentally stay committed and to reach the other shore victoriously.

DISCUSSION: What tips do you have for avoiding over-commitment? Tell us in the comment section, and your tips may be used in a future post on how to avoid over-commitment.

For another way to look at our boat analogy, check out Put your boat in the water by Kathy Howard at Laced with Grace.

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Staying Committed, Part 3 of 5 – Biblical Lessons on Commitment

In order to stay committed and to keep commitments, in order to finish strong by Staying in the Boat until we cross the finish line, we need to focus on full commitment to God. We must be constantly reaching toward the Great Expectations He has for us with regard to commitment. His way is the only way to truly stay committed.

The Bible gives many examples of individuals who stayed committed to God and as a result kept their commitments to themselves and others as well. Their stories and lives provide terrific lessons we too can apply in our own struggle to stay committed.

Your commitment does not depend on the honesty of others. (Joshua 9)

Joshua made a mistake trusting the Gibeonites, yet he still kept his promise to them because he knew how God felt about keeping your word. Their being deceitful had no bearing upon whether or not Joshua kept his commitments even though doing so still had significant consequences.

Just because your circumstances change does not mean your commitment should. (Daniel 6)

Daniel showed commitment to God over a lifetime. His life spells out the most important aspects of keeping commitments: Extraordinary spirit, faithfulness, living according to God’s will, praying continually despite consequences, living under God’s protection & affecting others through commitment.

Your friends and culture do not have to agree with your commitment. (Genesis 7 & Hebrews 11:7)

Moses stayed committed to God even when he most likely faced tremendous peer and cultural pressures. Let’s be clear that scripture does not say he had peer pressure. We are making a pretty safe assumption based on the corrupt culture of the day and the fact that it had probably not rained since creation (Genesis 2:5-6). Moses kept to God’s instructions regardless of the influence of the surrounding culture or of his peers.

How you feel has nothing to do with whether or not you keep a commitment. (1 Samuel 1:11, 24-28)

Hannah was infertile and had prayed that God would open her womb and allow her to have a son. She then promised that son would belong to God “all the days of his life.” If you have children, remember back to before you had your first child. Did you even come close to imagining the depth of love you would have for him/her? With that in mind, do you think Hannah’s heart was breaking when she gave her son to the Lord while he was still very young? But she kept her commitment to God anyway regardless of what her feelings wanted her to do.

Making your life line up with God’s will sometimes means fulfilling back commitments. (Philemon)

Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who had escaped. He became a Christian, and Paul sent him back to Philemon to keep his commitment. Sometimes, we have back-commitments we’ll have to keep when we get right with God in any area of our lives.

You can still keep your commitments when others release you from them. (Ruth 1:16-18)

Ruth was under no obligation to keep her commitment to Naomi, her husband’s mother. Yet, she made the decision to stay with Naomi and never deterred from that decision. God blessed Ruth for her devotion. He blessed her for making a decision and following it all the way through totally and completely.

God Himself provides the perfect picture of commitment.

God has kept and/or is keeping His commitment to Israel (whole Old Testament), to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3 & Nehemiah 9:8, 23), and even to Satan (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26) just to name a few of the big ones. God was and is faithful to the unfaithful, rebellious, doubting & wandering.

He made His commitment to us before the world was even created. (Matthew 25:34), and His commitment to us shows we can trust Him. Likewise, when we stay committed, we build trust with God and with others.

DISCUSSION: What other biblical examples of commitment can you think of? Which one do you connect with the most & why?

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Staying Committed, Part 2 of 5 – Great Expectations

The foundation of our ability to carry out all other commitments in life – committing to Staying in the Boat – begins and ends with understanding and doing our best to live out God’s expectations with regard to commitment. His great expectations for staying committed exist as the gold standard for how commitment should exist in our lives. What are those expectations?

Total Commitment

Mathew 22:37-38 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” In other words, when it comes to being committed, we first and foremost must commit totally and completely to God. You’re either in or you’re out. There is no in between.

Continual Commitment

Jesus’ words to a crowd of people, recorded in Luke 9:23-24, tell us that commitment to Him is a daily decision. He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

Once we commit to Christ, there is no going back to our former way of living. This means we will have to say “no” to some good things. Following Jesus is not just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing, daily, moment-by-moment experience.

Faithful Commitment

Committing to Christ in faith means making Him our sole authority, our guiding light and our unerring compass. Paul, in Galatians 2:20, says it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

We may not always understand, but being faithfully committed means we continue on in the way He has set before us.

Obedient Commitment

If anyone remembers much from Apollo 13, they usually remember the famous words of NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz who said, “Failure is not an option.” Because they refused to even explore the possibility that the astronauts would not return home safely, they were able to avoid tragedy.

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon praised God for promises kept and for bringing rest to His people, and then He said to the people, “Your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord your God, to live by His decrees and obey his commands.” (1 Kings 8:61)

Solomon was declaring that full commitment and obedience to God was not an option. If we approach commitment to God in the same way as Kranz did bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely, we will be able to successfully live obedient lives.

In order to stay committed and to keep commitments in any area of life, we must first focus on total, continual, faithful and obedient commitment to God. No other option exists for Staying in the Boat and to finish strong by reaching the other shore successfully and victoriously.

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DISCUSSION: What is the state of God’s great expectations in your life?

Staying Committed, Part 1 of 5 – Staying in the Boat

Have you ever noticed how much farther the actual distance is over water than what it looks like standing on shore? Many people have thought they could swim further than they can only to find themselves in trouble when they get in the middle of the lake. Either that or they over-estimated their swimming abilities. They begin to tire, start treading water and then eventually drown if help doesn’t come.

This happens with commitments too. All too often, we think we can handle more than we actually can. We take on more and more commitments only to eventually find ourselves overwhelmed and drowning.

If we think of staying in the boat as staying committed to living life according to the Word of God, we realize that we have to first make that choice to get into the boat. We must decide that we aren’t going to attempt to swim across the lake on our own and that we do need get into the boat that will help us safely reach the other shore.

All too often though, we start out in the boat certain we will stay determined and finish strong, but we suddenly find that water surrounds us. Maybe our boat is sinking from over-commitment, like we’ve taken buckets of water and filled our boats to the point of overload.

Maybe we grabbed a life vest somewhere along the line and are now just floating along while life happens around us. Perhaps we decided to dive into the water because we think the boat isn’t going fast enough, and we are swimming and working and suddenly find ourselves horribly tired, treading water but barely able to keep from drowning.

And sometimes, we decide that the boat we’re in – lives committed to God and to live life according to His Word – doesn’t seem to be taking us in the right direction, and we jump into the next boat that comes along. We turn our attentions to the things of this world that seem to satisfy and meet needs initially but that eventually prove to be shoddy rafts that soon become water-logged.

Finishing strong – meaning staying in the boat and enduring to the final destination of eternity with our Creator – begins and ends with focusing on the great expectations that God has for how we live lives committed to Him.

For the next four Fridays, five Fridays total including this one, we will look at what the Bible has to say about staying committed. We will look at those great expectations, and we will explore some of the biblical examples of lives fully committed to God. We will also look at lessons we can learn from the Bible about commitment as well as guidelines for godly commitment and benefits of total commitment to God.

So climb into the boat! Make a commitment to live your life according to God’s great expectations. Start rowing by exploring commitment in a way that will keep the waters of life from overwhelming you and instead will allow your life to overflow with God’s rich blessings as you journey with Him to the other shore.

DISCUSSION: How do you view a life fully committed to God and living according to His Word?

Read the entire Staying Committed Series:

Staying Committed, Part 2 of 5 – Great Expectations

Staying Committed, Part 3 of 5 – Biblical Lessons on Commitment

Staying Committed, Part 4 of 5 – Guidelines for Godly Commitment

Staying Committed, Part 5 of 5 – Benefits of Total Commitment