"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

Making Commitments Public

I’ve been thinking a lot about public commitments. Ecclesiastes tells us it is better to not make a vow than to make it and not keep it. Commitments should be serious but does this mean we shouldn’t make them?

I don’t think so. Baptism is a public commitment to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Marriage vows are a commitment to be faithful to your spouse. “I press on towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” was one commitment that the Apostle Paul made.

Players are asked to make a commitment to be a part of a team. Employees are asked to make a commitment to their companies. Sometimes they sign non-competing clauses that commit themselves to not go to work for a competitor.

In March I asked our church body to make the following commitment:

I/we by God’s grace commit to make a matter of regular prayer (at least for the remainder of this calendar year) that God would bring laborers to join us in the ministry of Springs of Grace and that God would, in His mercy and sovereign wisdom, use me/us to bring at least one other family/individual over the next 9 months in whatever way the Lord might choose; and that I will, by the grace of God, seek to demonstrate the distinctly Christian mercy of God through acts of love and risks of faith in hope that the people of this city might come to treasure Jesus Christ above all.

Here is the link to the message preached on that day – http://springsofgracebiblechurch.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/mercy-driven-ministry-gal-2_1-10-3-28-10.mp3

I have been praying daily for the twenty or so people that publicly made that commitment. I am encouraged to see what God will do through the faithful prayers and commitments of a few.

I hope many in our church body made that commitment without sharing that with me. I know some of you did because I hear you praying and I see you demonstrating distinctly Christian mercy for the glory of God!

Is it essential that a commitment like this be made public? No. A public commitment can lead itself to pretense and externalism – the very things the Lord abhors and we speak against from His Word so often. God is most interested in our hearts.

Perhaps the reason you didn’t make your commitment public is to avoid a public display of holiness that finds its reward in being seen by men only. Jesus warns against praying, fasting or giving to be seen by men in the Sermon on the Mount.

To make a commitment publicly may promote spiritual pride rather than the humility the Lord gives grace to.

These are valid concerns. So why did Jesus get baptized publicly and why are we commanded to do so? Why are marriage vows generally made publicly and not just in our own hearts before the Lord? Why do Peter and John say publicly “we must obey God rather than men.”?

I don’t know all of the reasons. I’m still pondering! 🙂 but let me mention a couple of valid benefits to public commitments.

1) Christianity is intended to be leaved out in a community of believers. The Bible is replete with references to “one another”. Our commitments or failure to make commitments will effect those around us in the church. We are a body and we don’t function in isolation.

2) There is an added seriousness to a commitment that I make publicly. It acknowledges to the Lord and those around me that I have given value to this decision, counted the cost and said, “It’s right before the Lord to do this.”

3) Pride is rooted in self-centeredness and a low view of God. If the reason I don’t make a commitment publicly is about me then that may promote more pride in my heart. If the reason you make a commitment publicly is to encourage the faithfulness of your brothers and sisters in the Lord or is an acknowledgment of your need for God’s help in keeping this commitment then that may well reflect honest humility that values God above all else.

4) There is a value in others praying with you and for you – even in commitments to pray. I am so thankful that the Lord is praying for me to keep my commitments to Him.