Our Word - Our Bond (Keeping Commitments)

Bible Book: 2 Timothy  4 : 7
Subject: Commitments; Faithfulness; Dedication; Christian Living

A certain man was given the nickname, "Honest John." It embarrassed him, and he protested that he didn't deserve that name. "Couldn't you just call me, 'Fairly Honest John?'" he asked.

Many of us are like that. We want to be "fairly committed" in our service to Christ. We're not sure we can go all the way. A minister was told he needed to exercise. He said, "I knew I should run; but one morning I wasn't in the mood for covering the 4 miles as usual.  My house is 4 miles from the church. So as I got into my running suit I decided that I was only going to run halfway from the house and the church. I knew that once I got halfway between the house to the church, I would have no choice. I couldn't hitchhike home. I would have to finish. So I did!"

He smiled and then continued, "Now, I use this principle in many other areas of my life. When I know there is something that I should do, that I don't want to do; I make the commitment to go as far as the point of no return. Then I'm trapped. I have to complete the job." How many of us always complete the job?

There's not nearly enough emphasis today on finishing. We're given motivation material! We're told how to get started. We receive plenty of advice about setting goals and establishing priorities.  All of these are needed; but what about the opposite end? Let's emphasize the importance of sticking with something until it's done.  Let's emphasize the importance of hanging tough after the excitement fades.

Unfortunately, our attention spans have been conditioned by thirty-second T.V. commercials. Our sense of reality has been distorted with instant products. This "quick fix," short term orientation even affects us spiritually. It's easy to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; but it's very hard to sustain the interest. Millions of people make decisions for Christ, but not nearly as many stay in for the long haul. In our kind of culture, anything, even a doctrinal belief can be sold if it's packaged attractively; but, then, when it loses its novelty, it's often discarded. In our world, there is a great market for exciting religious experiences, but there is little enthusiasm for the patient day to day growth toward maturity.

Our faith is not a temporary project or a competitive game. Our faith demands commitment. Some contemporary Christians tend to take basic religious beliefs and practices and turn them into various expressions of selfishness. Some people only read the Bible to find support for their prejudices.

That's not a good reason for studying the Scriptures. Some churches encourage people to tithe in order to get more from God. That might happen, but stewardship is not a lottery.

The best sellers are never entitled, "How to serve God and Others!"  Instead, the most popular books are more likely to be entitled "God's Way to Financial Abundance"; or "How to Enjoy Blessings without Burdens!"

Our generation has come dangerously near the "I'm getting tired, so let's just quit" mentality. Finishing school is a hassle, so we drop out. Cultivating a close relationship is painful, so we back off.  Completing a project is demanding, so we stop short. Working through conflicts in a marriage is a struggle, so we walk away. Sticking with an occupation is tough, so we resign.

Yet, at the end of his life, Paul said, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7).

So, how can we make and keep commitments?

I. We Must Decide To Participate.

Without involvement, there's no commitment. Someone said, "In today's world, most participants have become spectators." This was even true in Jesus' day. He said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few . . ." (Luke 10:2a).

But, life isn't a spectator sport. We must be involved. We're rewarded for what we do, not for what we observe. Jesus said, "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matt. 25:40).

Good intentions and fantastic daydreams are useless. One small high school lost all the big games. They were invariably clobbered by their arch-rivals from a nearby community. Understandably, the students and their parents began to get depressed and dispirited. It must have been awful.

Finally, a local automobile dealer decided to take matters into his own hands. He asked to speak to the team in the locker room after another devastating defeat. What followed was one of the most dramatic football speeches of all times. This businessman proceeded to offer a brand new Ford to every boy on the team and to each coach if they would simply defeat their bitter rivals on Friday night.

The team went crazy with anticipation. They howled and cheered and slapped each other on their padded shoulders. For seven days, the boys ate, drank and breathed football. Every night they dreamed about touchdowns and shiny cars. The entire school caught the spirit and a holiday fever pervaded the campus. Each player could visualize himself behind the wheel of a sleek roadster with gorgeous girls hanging all over him.

Finally, the big night arrived and the team assembled in the locker room. Excitement was at an unprecedented high. The coach offered several last-minute instructions, and the boys hurried out to face the enemy. They assembled on the sidelines, put their hands together and shouted a simultaneous, "Rah! Rah! Rah!" Then they ran onto the field and were demolished, thirty-eight to zero.

Now, what's the moral of this tale? Well, all their exuberance didn't translate into a single point on the scoreboard. Seven days of hurrah and whoop-to-do simply couldn't compensate for the players' lack of discipline, lack of practice, and lack of experience. It's what you do that counts!

Are you afraid of commitment? Are you reluctant to participate?  Well, we must take a stand and make a decision because that starts a constructive process. Commitment produces energy; energy produces determination, and determination produces results! Paul said, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal. 6:9).

II. We Must Be Consistent.

Do you know what characterizes those individuals who are successful in sports or business? Do you know what single quality builds more respect than any other? Do you know what crucial trait brings security to relationships? Do you know what one thing is needed most by parents in the home? Well, consider this: What do you want most from your paperboy, or postman?

The questions are different, but the answer is the same for everyone: Consistency. We desperately need something we can count on it. We need to know something will be there tomorrow just like it was yesterday. We need relationships with people who are free from erratic moods and fickle fads. Consistency is stable, reliable and faithful.

Consistency is the stuff mothers are made of when their babies get sick. Consistency is the stuff missionaries are made of, when their long years of labor yield limited results. Consistency reveals itself in faithful employees who show up on time and do their job.  Consistency includes diligence and dependability and discipline.

Consistency knows little of ups and down, highs and lows, blue Mondays and holiday hangovers. It hates tardiness and absenteeism.  It thrives on sacrifice and unselfishness. It's an obvious mark of maturity. Consistency is hanging in there day in and day out in spite of every distraction. Consistency is an essential component of integrity. When our outward acts always correspond to our inward values, we have integrity.

We can't have occasional integrity. If we are persons of integrity, we maintain it at all times. We won't use someone and then ignore him after we get what we want. We won't be here today and gone tomorrow. We won't offer support and then forget. The greatest need in America today is people with integrity. To succeed in marriage or business or any other area of life we need integrity.

Try to never make a promise you can't keep. If the unexpected happens and it's impossible to follow through, explain carefully.  This builds trust. Paul had consistency in mind when he told Timothy, "Be ready in season and out of season . . ." (II Tim. 4:2).  The Amplified version says: "Whether it's convenient or inconvenient."

James saw consistency as a stabilizing trait, which he called, "endurance." And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect . . ." (James 1:3-4).

Jesus exemplified consistency. The Scriptures say, "(He) is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever." (Heb. 13:8).

III. We Must Be Dependable.

You know, it's not the great heroic deeds that define commitment.  Instead, it's the small everyday deeds that are faithfully performed. A woman told about a Centennial Celebration that was to be the biggest gathering her childhood church had ever had. She said, "I planned to travel from the West Coast to New York to attend, and for weeks I thought about what the 'Evening of Remembrance' might include. What big events and dynamic speakers would people talk about? Perhaps the "Flying Evangelist' who took us on plane rides? Or the many talented musical groups that had come from various places to share their faith with us? Or, maybe the dramatic candlelight New Year's Eve Service we once had?

But I was in for a surprise. The hushed auditorium was filled with many faces from my past. Many now had white hair; others who were once toddlers now looked down at me. But as each one stood to reminisce, they mentioned individuals. They remembered Ida, the quiet nursery worker whom no one could recall not being there. They remembered tireless Pearl, who served so many nourishing meals. They remembered John's quiet faithfulness as a Sunday School teacher. 'He was always there! Always the same!' one woman said with appreciative tears. 'That has meant a lot to me.'

In fact, nothing was said that evening about stupendous events or 'big names.' Suddenly it dawned on me how very much we crave dependability. These are the treasures we remember. I left that evening with a new perspective on the gospel, on Christian service, and on witnessing." We don't have to accomplish wonderful feats or speak memorable words. We just need to be consistent and dependable.

Paul said, "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (I Cor. 15:58).


Many of us grew up hearing the Christian life being compared to mountaintops and valleys. With this metaphor, the Christian life was mostly lived in a valley. It was mundane and unimportant except for those times of revival or special retreats where we actually experienced the presence of God. So, we grew up believing the Christian life was a series of ups and downs; mountaintops and valleys. We hoped, as we grew older, we would have more ups and fewer downs; and the whole cycle would move us closer to God. We hoped that if we lived long enough, eventually we would reach the mountaintop permanently.

But, whether we're on a mountaintop or in a valley, we must keep our commitments to ourselves and to other people, and to God. Feelings come and go; emotions are changeable; and good intentions are futile. We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.

Keeping commitments helps us develop self-respect and self-control.  Keeping commitments gives us personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Keeping commitments authenticates our influence and witness. Are you a committed Christian? Do you participate? Are you consistent? Are you dependable? God said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev. 2:10b, kjv).