You Should Be Committed, Part 5

Being committed to the Lord means being a disciple of Jesus Christ. That word, disciple, frightens some Christians because they’re quite content with just being a “Christian,” going to church a couple of times a month, behaving properly around their Christian friends, and saying grace. To Christians like that, a disciple is somebody who takes their faith way too seriously. These are the people who do crazy things in the name of their faith. Things like planning their daily lives around church activities; like making sure their kids are proficient in their knowledge of the faith first and of sports and video games second and third; things like helping strangers in the name of Christ and volunteering their time and talents while getting nothing in return. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the lazy or faint of heart. It’s serious business, and many Christians aren’t that serious. And that’s a shame because there is great satisfaction found in being so committed to Christ that He would refer to you as His disciple.

In the book of Proverbs we read a very interesting verse about this very issue:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (Proverbs 16:3 | NIV84)

Of Proverbs 16, Dr McGee made this observation:

This is a very rich and important section—short sentences drawn from long experience, tested in the crucible of time and of suffering. They are made rich and real to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That’s the real beauty of all the proverbs, but really describes Proverbs 16 well. Most chapters in this book don’t fall into a meaningful outline, and this one doesn’t either. I’ve seen a couple of outlines but none of them are really helpful. So what I’d like to do is just concentrate on the first handful of verses.

The Lord

It is significant that in the first seven verses, Israel’s personal name for God, Yahweh, was used. This section stresses God’s activity in the affairs of men. We like to talk about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, but this verse shows how far-reaching it is! It actually begins in the mouth of man.

The preparation of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. (Proverbs 16:1 | KJ21)

In a single verse, we see how God is able to confound even the wisest of men. When the wisest man in the world seeks to speak to others, God is able to control his words. The way the verse is written, the idea is that God is able to take the most meticulously thought-out speech and turn it on its head by jumbling the words up spoken by the person giving it. In other words, a clever person can plan on saying one thing, but if it is contrary to God’s plan, He will step in and take control of the person’s tongue. You may scoff at such an idea, but remember Balaam’s ass?

The second verse carries this idea even further, beyond just words and ideas.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes, but the LORD weigheth his spirit. (Proverbs 16:2 | KJ21)

Only God is able to see into the depths of a person’s being to discern his true motives. Any person, even the most precious blue-haired saint in the church, can delude themselves into thinking their motives are pure when they may not be. There isn’t a human being alive who is able discern the motives of others, let alone their own. Jeremiah knew this quirk of human nature to be true:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward everyone according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9, 10 | KJ21)

That’s why you should never “follow your heart” or “listen to you heart.” It lies to you. You can’t trust it. But you can trust God, and that’s why you need to listen to Him and seek His will all the time. Your heart will always lead you astray and get you into trouble.

If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. (Proverbs 3:4 – 6 | TLB)

Nobody knows you like God does. That’s why you need His direction for your life. And the only way you will be able to discern His direction is if you are in a committed relationship with Him through Jesus Christ because then and only then will you be living a God-centered life, which is the essence of discipleship. And verse 3 really shows us how in practical terms what a God-centered life involves.

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Proverbs 16:3 | KJ21)

The word translated “commit,” means literally “roll.” This verse is probably the very best prescription for anxiety available, and it’s free. All you have to do is simply learn how to do it. If you want to lessen the anxiety in your life, then roll all your affairs over on to the Lord. Whatever you are doing or whatever you’re involved with, give it to God and let Him work it out. That sounds so simple, yet most Christians can’t do it because they know that what they are doing or involved with is not God’s will for them. And here’s the number one problem with American Christians: They segregate their lives in such a way as to keep certain things away from God. They have no problem praying for their children or grandchildren or for safe travels. But it never occurs to them that God is vitally interested in their work. Or in their hobbies. Or in their various other extracurricular activities. In fact, I suspect that it’s even worse than just ignorance. It’s a calculated way of living and self-deception that says to God, “OK, I want to go to heaven, so I’ll give you this, this, and this, but I’ll keep my free time to myself.” We are masters of the double life. We should all be given an Oscar for our performance as Christians when we are called on to act like like one. But we aren’t fooling God. So instead of rolling the entirety of our lives over onto Him, we hold some back and suffer the consequences of such foolishness. We are anxious and we worry and we get all stressed out. We have to deal with guilty consciences. We don’t really trust God because we’ve never really tested Him! We’ve never given Him the opportunity to prove how faithful and powerful He really is. Because, when it really counts, we prefer to trust ourselves.

This verse teaches us complete dependence on the Lord. And that’s not something most of us want. We’re not quite sure about Him. But the thing is this: If you want to enjoy the kind of success that is pleasing to God and most beneficial to you and those around you, you’d better start rolling all your “stuff” over onto him. Wise up and do what’s best for you. Learn humility through depending on God. God will never, ever let you down. Some people have genuine trust issues because they’ve been disappointed by their parents or their spouse or other people of importance and influence in their lives. To you, I say try God and you will discover what many of us have discovered to be true: God is faithful and will always do what is best for you. And your family. And your business.

If you call yourself a Christian, then you should commit your plans to the Lord so that He may establish them. Not every plan you may have is pleasing to him; but for those that are, this verse is a great comfort. True faith, borne of a love relationship with Jesus Christ will remove the anxieties and the perplexities from your life. Guaranteed. But that won’t stop some people from thinking that they or their situations are the exception; that God wouldn’t waste His time. To you, the Bible makes a simple statement:

The LORD hath made all things for Himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Proverbs 16:4 | KJ21)

“All things” means just that. God made all things so He’s keenly interested in all things and He understands all things. Your situation that you think is so different and unique is blasé to God! Put it another way, there is nothing God hasn’t seen, heard, or dealt with. Do you think you’re the first person to pray about his marriage? Or about his job? Or about everyday problems in child rearing?

God is absolutely committed to you, in every way you can think of. If you aren’t committed to Him in kind, you’re short changing yourself in a big way! You’re missing out on all that the Lord can bring into your life. He has the uncanny ability to make everything work out for you. In His kingdom, there are no loose ends; God takes care of it all. When you stop and think about it, there really is only one reason why a Christian would not commit 100% of himself to God: Pride. That’s a huge problem, by the way.

Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; though they join hands, they shall not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5 | KJ21)

Ouch. If pride is keeping you from giving God your all, you’re an abomination to Him. That’s about as bad as it gets. That phrase, “pride in heart,” refers to a person who thinks he knows more than God does; that he knows better than God does. If that’s your attitude, you’ve put yourself in a bad position. That kind of pride – of arrogance – doesn’t go unnoticed by God or unpunished. You reap what you sow. Some believers reading this may have found themselves on the outs with God because of their attitude of pride and arrogance. Inexplicably you have found the spigot of God’s blessings dried up. You no longer feel like He’s listening to your prayers. The things of God no longer seem to hold your attention. All those things are tiny judgments God directs at you to get your attention; to tell you He wants all of you, all the time.

There’s a famous verse in the book of Acts that’s worth taking a peak at. It’s Acts 26:14 –

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (Acts 26:14 | TNIV)

That phrase, “kick against the goads,” in Greek literature evoked a rural image, of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. It sounds like an odd saying to but us, but everyone in that day understood its meaning.

A goad was made from short pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers would use the pointed end to prod a stubborn ox to move. Sometimes, the animal would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more pain it felt as the goad stabbed it’s hoof or leg.

We have the impression that Saul’s conversion happened all of a sudden, as he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. But based on the Lord’s expression regarding his kicking back, it’s very likely that Jesus had been working on him for years, prodding and goading him.

We don’t have any record of it happening, but given Paul’s amazing intellect and curiosity, it’s almost impossible to imagine him not being present in the audience while Jesus was preaching and teaching. He was certainly familiar Jesus. And if he heard our Lord preaching, then he heard the Word of God and for a long time he “kicked against the goad” of that word until finally, in very dramatic fashion, Christ got the man’s attention.

Saul heard the Word and he resisted it. His heart was so desperate to go the other way, that he became the foremost persecutor of Christians. But his heart wasn’t strong enough to resist Christ’s call. And neither is yours.

A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the LORD directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 | KJ21)

Like Saul, you can run, but you can’t hide. If you’re a Christian who is holding back from God, He will hound you, no matter how much you kick against the goad. The question is, how beat up do you want to get? You can “devise” your own plans, but if you belong to Him, God will move you in the direction He wants you to do. Be smart. Stop resisting God. He wants all of you, so just give your whole life to Him. When you do that, this will happen:

(Christ) is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…. (Ephesians 3:20 | TNIV)

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