Commitment

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“Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” – Psalm 31:5 (NKJV)

Have I completely committed my spirit to Him? Am I really ‘all in’ in this Christian relationship?

Romans 12:1 tells me to submit myself as a living sacrifice to Him, which is a powerful illustration of this commitment. A sacrifice didn’t just get up and walk back to the livestock pen – it was totally, irrevocably, entirely committed.

So, as a living sacrifice, am I totally, irrevocably, and entirely committed? Or am I committed during certain time-boxed segments of my life and handling things on my own the rest of the time? Or daily committed, but only with certain parts of my life?

Do I trust Him with my security, my protection, my abilities, my well-being?

Do I trust Him to help me do my job? To fulfill expectations and plan the work? To make the right connections and develop the right partnerships?

Do I trust Him to help me relate to my family and friends? To treat them as the valuable persons that they are in my life? To make sure they know they are appreciated and treasured?

Do I trust Him to enable me in the ministry that He called me to? To understand His truths, and find the words to convey them to others? To keep me confident and focused in the face of apparent disinterest or flaming arrows of criticism?

Do I trust Him with my reputation? To protect from misinterpretation or misapplication of my words? To shield me from lies, rumors, and mishandling of the truth?

Do I trust Him to keep me pure? To help me make good decisions, even when the temptations seem larger than life and the battle seems most dire?

Do I trust Him to help me properly interact with others, with discernment and caution where necessary, with compassion and encouragement always? To give place to others in a way that is not self-demeaning? To show a full measure of His love and grace, while not compromising His truth?

Do I trust Him with my family? To reconcile and heal where needed? To shield them from hurtful attitudes and harmful words, directed at them sometimes merely for choosing to love and support me?

Do I trust Him enough to say that even if it leads to hardship, embarrassment, loss, pain, broken relationships, or death, I’m in?

I wish I could say that the answer to all these questions is a resounding ‘Yes!’ but of course it’s not. I still want to worry over and try to manage many of these areas myself, rather than trust Him to handle it all.

When the psalmist says “You have redeemed me” I agree without a doubt.

When he refers to God as the “Lord God of truth” I respond with a heartfelt ‘Amen’.

But tying that back to the first half of the verse and wholly committing my spirit into the hands of the Lord God of truth who has redeemed me…that’s where the connection gets fuzzy.

In my head, I can tie it together. In my heart, it’s a little more challenging.

What about you? How are you doing with all this? What do you need to let go and commit to Him?

Whatever it is, He can handle it. But don’t take my word for it…take His:

“The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” – Psalm 18:30 (NKJV)

Five Truths For Fighting Temptation

Nautical 0295This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I wanted to capture some thoughts about temptation-fighting that I’ve come to realize. Hopefully some of them resonate with you. Maybe you have additional thoughts – if so, I’m interested to hear them.

As a discussion-starter, here are five foundational truths that strike me about the fight:

  1. Treat it like the cage match that it is.

There are no compromises.  Both parties cannot walk away a winner. When you compromise, you lose.

Our enemy is a great deceiver.  And one of his favorite ploys is to convince us that giving a little ground isn’t a big thing.

When he tempted Eve in the Garden he said “SMH,” (yes, in my retelling the devil speaks in social media abbreviations), “do you really think that’s what God meant when He said you shouldn’t eat from that tree? Seriously, c’mon, don’t fall for that.  Everybody knows it’s not a big deal.  In fact, if you did eat you’d become just as wise and cool as He is. Just try one small piece and see what happens. What can it hurt?”

If he can keep us believing it’s just a little thing then he wins. He can keep you pinned to the mat with that mindset far more effectively than even a foot on your throat.

Fight like it’s a serious brawl, not a whimsical waltz.

  1. Pray and give thanks.

In the midst of the fight, thank God for the victory – even if you can’t see it. That’s faith in action.

Refuse to see the possibility of loss. Napoleon Hill wrote “One of the main weaknesses of mankind is the average man’s familiarity with the word ‘impossible'”. Don’t let your familiarity with the word defeat dictate reality.

Paul wrote “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Pray like the victory is already yours. When you do, you shore up the defenses around your heart and mind. And when your heart and mind are rightly guarded and properly focused, much of the battle is won.

Which leads right into the next point…

  1. Focus on the right things.

In verse 8 Paul continues: “whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Where our thoughts are, our emotions and actions will follow.

Think through this with me: when we are faced with temptation our natural reaction is to focus on that thing that we’re resisting, isn’t it? We are thinking “I have to stay away from that porn site” or “I cannot allow myself to take that drink” or “I must not have an angry outburst.”

But when we do so, what is getting the attention? It’s the porn, the drink, or the anger! Our attempts to focus on victory are sincere and noble, but they are inadvertently giving the attention to the opponent.

What happens if we replace that “should not” thought pattern with something else – something that doesn’t have anything to do with the bad?

There’s freedom when we realize we don’t have to focus on something to defeat it.

Next time you catch yourself saying “I mustn’t do this or that” stop yourself, and hone your thoughts in on true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue, praiseworthy. Picture a person who represents those things, make a list, read something positive and refreshing, watch a favorite sitcom. Redirect your focus.

  1. Don’t let a past defeat be a predictor of future losses.

The previous points notwithstanding, there are times when we don’t win.  For whatever reason we find ourselves bloodied and beaten, lying on the floor while our adversary is shaking his fists in victory.

But the key is not to let the loss undermine your confidence in your ability to win, or God’s willingness to be at your side.

Your defeat did not change God’s view of you at all. Your wins can’t make you any more precious to Him (He values you completely), and your losses can’t make you deficient in any way (He values you completely).

  1. It’s not over until it’s over (in other words, until you stand in the Throne Room).

The most important thing is never to think you have arrived.  There will be another battle. The recovered alcoholic knows that he can never let his guard down. Thirty years of sobriety can be ruined by one small glass of wine. The former porn addict knows that he can never think he’s gotten past it. A hardcore pornography binge can be triggered by an otherwise harmless swimsuit ad.

Paul told the Corinthians that they could handle whatever temptation came their way, but first he wrote “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Overconfidence leads to trouble.

What are your thoughts on resisting temptation?  What has God whispered to you in the midst of the fight, or after a big win, or even after a big loss? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts. Join the discussion and leave a comment below.