You Should Be Committed! Part 1

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How many of you (of a certain age) remember these lyrics:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me,
Deep down depression, excessive misery,
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all,
Gloom, despair and agony on me.

Yes, the four losers from Hee Haw would sing that song then complain about all the things wrong in their lives. It was a funny skit that went on for years. People enjoyed laughing at other people’s problems; it makes us feel good to think that other people have the same problems we have. Or even better, that they have it worse than we do.

That’s one way to deal with the stresses of life – to laugh at others, or to laugh at yourself. But what about those things that happen to you that you can’t laugh at. How do you cope with things that cause you genuine, unrelenting “gloom, despair, and agony?” A lot of us pull into ourselves, we fret and worry. We get nervous and fearful.

The Bible gives us some sound advice on how to cope with “gloom, despair, agony, and excessive misery” of life.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. (Philippians 4:6 | TLB)

That’s a verse that either makes you very happy or very angry, depending on your situation. Paul admonished: Don’t worry about anything. Yes, that’s a paraphrase, The Living Bible to be precise, so you may wonder if the word “anything” is accurate or not. Surely Ken Taylor, the man who is responsible for The Living Bible, was exaggerating when he wrote “everything.”

So let’s check this verse out in some other translations:

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6 | KJV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6 | TNIV)

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 | RSV)

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6 | ASV)

It’s a safe bet “anything” wasn’t Ken Taylor’s idea, but rather the apostle Paul’s. Christians aren’t supposed to worry or be anxious about “anything.” And “anything” means anything! That may seem hard for you to believe, especially in a culture that seems to encourage parents to worry about every aspect of their children’s life; about their own health; about their job security; about their pensions; about the president’s sanity. It’s crazy, but here in the greatest country in the world, the norm is to worry. Yet, if you want to live a life of faith that is pleasing to the Lord, you can’t worry about “anything.”

Yet we do. Even those of us who pride ourselves on being emotionally secure and completely objective, sometimes find ourselves overtaken by worry and anxiety. What do we do about that? Over the next few weeks, I’ll lay out what the Bible teaches about this issue. If we can grasp its teaching, we’ll find ourselves living better and enjoying life more.

Commit Yourself Unto Him, 2 Timothy 1:12

Paul was a preacher writing to a younger preacher. But that doesn’t mean what Paul wrote to Timothy isn’t important for you. You probably aren’t a preacher. But you are Christian. By default, you are an evangelist whether you realize it or not. Elton Trueblood’s marvelous book, “Your Other Vocation,” is a real eye-opener, and I urge everybody reading this to read that. The thrust of his book is that all believers are called to be ministers, and that our other vocation is how we earn a living. That’s an interesting thought, and it’s thoroughly Biblical. The idea that only pastors or evangelists should be the ones preaching and evangelizing goes completely against what the Bible teaches. So, with that in mind, let’s look at what Paul wrote to Timothy.

In verses 11 and 12, Paul writes of his ministry:

For this I am appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles, for which cause I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed. For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that Day. (2 Timothy 1:11, 12 | KJ21)

The apostle covers four things.

“I suffer these things.” Paul was called by the Lord to be His preacher, and ever since Paul answered that called, he suffered. He suffers “these things.” How did Paul suffer? He gave a partial list to the church at Corinth:

I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut. (2 Corinthians 11:23 – 29 | MSG)

Yes, Paul paid a high price to be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Most of us will never suffer like Paul did, but serving the Lord faithfully isn’t easy. A serious Christian will suffer, to some degree, in his vocation. If you want to follow Jesus faithfully, many times your attitudes toward things in our culture will be completely opposite to the mainstream. At this moment, our culture is swirling down the toilet, and the things it values and promotes are almost always anti Christian. Taking a stand for Biblical morality and ethics can take its toll on your reputation at work or even out in the community.

To be a modern-day disciple of Christ is a radical way to live life, and while those of us who are striving to be that committed to our Lord may not suffer as Paul did, what we do put up with is suffering for the Gospel, nonetheless.

“I am not ashamed.” That’s what Paul wrote, but of what was he not ashamed? He wrote a similar thing to the Romans:

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 | KJ21)

So Paul wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel, nor was he ashamed of how he was suffering for the sake of that same Gospel. And here he was, cooling his heels in prison because he was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ, and he still wasn’t ashamed. He wasn’t in prison because of some crime he committed, he was in prison because he chose to obey God, not man. In Paul’s mind, he had nothing to be ashamed of. Now, there were people who were running around talking trash about Paul because he was in prison, but his conscience was absolutely clear.

“I know whom I have believed.” The secret of Paul’s positive attitude was not that he had read Napoleon Hill’s books. His secret was a Person: Jesus Christ. It wasn’t Paul’s temperament or his personality. It wasn’t his education. It wasn’t his close circle of friends. Paul was positive and he was certain because he knew Jesus Christ personally.

This is an important concept for you, the modern Christian to grasp hold of and not let go of. The world may regard your faith in a crucified Messiah as a joke; a thing of folly and a just cause for mockery and shame, but if your relationship with Jesus Christ is strong and genuine, then whatever the world may think of you and your faith will not impact you one wit. The world may make fun of you, but Jesus Christ never will. Like Paul, you must permanently put your trust and confidence in Him.

“I am persuaded.” This is an essential characteristic of the Christian faith. To be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ is much more than merely believing the right stuff concerning Christ, however important that may be. True Christianity must involve a love fellowship with a Person—namely Jesus Christ—if our faith is to be truly Christian. We must be persuaded of the reality of Jesus Christ and the reality of relationship we have with Him.

Paul wrote that he was convinced that God could “keep” that which he had committed to His care. Literally, the Greek looks like this: “that he is able to guard my deposit.” He has unshaken confidence in God’s ability to do what he trusts Him to do. He is able effectively “to guard my deposit.”

Paul was absolutely, 100 percent convinced of God’s ability to “keep” or guard the trust or deposit. In the Greek, this whole statement indicates there is no doubt that God, in whom he has placed his faith, is able to guard what the apostle has entrusted. The tense of the verb “to guard” means to continue watching over and protecting, as a guard watches over a prisoner. Of course, the question you should be asking is, What is being guarded by God?  The Greek term is parathēkē, and was used for the deposit of money or property entrusted to another. As Paul used it here, there are two possible meanings: First, the gospel that God entrusted to Paul is now entrusted to Timothy’s guardianship. That’s possible but unlikely.

Secondly, Paul could be referring to the commitment that he has entrusted to God, and this probably what the great apostle is getting at. Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end, and just as God can be trusted to save your soul, so He can be trusted to “keep” or guard your life until the very end. In short, Paul was not ashamed in the midst of suffering because he was fully convinced that God would keep safe his deposit of faith – to vindicate his deposit of faith – until the very end.

In the midst of all of his sufferings; through all the ups and downs of his life, Paul was trusting God with his very life – his life now, and his life in the future. God gave Paul salvation and a job to do. And Paul, in return, gave God his life, his ambition, his talents, and trusted God with all those things.

Paul had completely committed himself in every sense of the word to God and His care. Have you? Too many Christians name Christ as their Savior but hold back part of themselves. God doesn’t have 100% of their lives. But the thing is, God wants all of you. He wants all of your time. All of your ambition. All of your talents. He wants all of your heart.

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