Acts 14:21 After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
The greatest commitment is not in the most sincere pledge to do something, but in the acknowledgement that there is absolutely no other way to do something that absolutely must be done.
Just before 8 am on Sunday morning December 7, 1941, a fleet of Japanase war planes descended on Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack on the United States Navy. Japan had declared war on America. Italy and Germany immediately followed. Every American realized that a stateside invasion was imminent and that there was only one route to preserve our freedom. Fight.
The war effort that ensued would create one of the strongest fighting forces in history. Why? Because we were committed.
Sometimes, we commit ourselves. Other times, we’re committed.
I was committed once. To solitary confinement as a juvenile. No way out. No escape. No other choice.
In the second world war, Japan committed us to the fight like the law committed me to jail. No way out. No escape. No other choice. We had to fight.
What’s the difference between making a commitment and being committed? None really. If your commitment is real, it doesn’t matter whether you made it or if someone else made it for you. No way out. No escape. No other choice. You’re committed.
The residents of Lystra had pummeled Paul with rocks, dragged him out of the city and left him for dead. The next day, he went back into the same city. What commitment!
The other disciples were committed, too. How do we know?
Because our key verse tells us that when Paul told them about times of great trouble on the route ahead, they were “strengthened.” Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? Who’s strengthened when they hear bad news?!
Consider the connection between strength and commitment.
When there’s no way out, no escape, no other choice; you strengthen yourself for the only road ahead. For the disciples, there was only one route to heaven and regardless of the trials awaiting them, it was the only route for these committed soldiers.
They were strengthened for the trials because they were committed to the route.
You’re only strengthened before the fire if you’re committed to go through it.
The alternative? Avoidance. It’s the bypass of the uncommitted. Is God calling you to move somewhere you don’t want to? Is He prodding you to change jobs to something that pays less? Is He convicting you to sacrifice comfort or maybe stick to a mission that’s difficult or even dangerous? The option of avoidance is the absence of commitment. They’re mutually exclusive. Full commitment means there’s no other route. And the avoidance option means there’s no real commitment.
Paul called himself a slave of Christ. Had he made a commitment or had he been committed? No way out. No escape. No other choice. Go ahead. Tell God you want to be fully committed. You’ll find that your relationships, your character and your faith will be strengthened, too.