IS YOUR FAITH JUST A VERBAL COMMITMENT?

Special Guest Writer, Patrick Morrison

Midwest City High School defensive back Evan Fields announces his decision to attend Arizona State University during an event at the school in Midwest City, Okla. Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Beside him are his sister Nyla and his mother Evonnda. Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman

It will come as no surprise to most who know me when I say that I am a sports fan. Especially is this true in regard to high school and collegiate athletics. There is something about sports at these levels that is far more appealing (at least to me) than the professional ranks. Of all the sports that I enjoy watching, football is by far my favorite. I follow very closely the news and notes of my favorite team. Since college football does not last all year long, there has been an increase in interest in recruiting. We want to know who will be joining our team for the next season, and the next season, and the season after that, etc. College football recruiting has become a major financial enterprise for those who are hungry for this sort of information. I will admit that I keep up with recruiting news. It is interesting to see what schools the nation’s top athletes will choose. Many of them will give a verbal commitment to a certain school, only to change their commitment to another school (and even another, and another, and another, and so on). Fans of college football powers often sweat it out until National Signing Day, the day upon which these high school athletes can sign a Letter of Intent to play for their chosen school. Until they sign on the dotted line, the athlete can change his commitment at will, and many of them do (Please remember, however, that these are 17-18 year old kids who are under great pressure to make such a monumental decision!). Some will honor their word and abide by their verbal commitment, signing on the dotted line with the school to whom they had given their spoken pledge. Others will commit to one school after another before finally settling on one in the end.

This made me think, how many of us are flirting with the idea of committing to Jesus? Commitment to the Savior is not for the faint of heart. He tells us that we must count the cost to make certain that we are willing to commit ourselves fully to following him (Luke 14:28-33). Sadly, many of us have pledged our love to the Lord in word only. Talk is cheap when it concerns our faith. It is in the doing that we prove our faith to be genuine and valuable. If we offer only a verbal commitment to Jesus, then we run the risk of being swayed to “flip” our commitment to someone or something else. Perhaps we find ourselves pledging our devotion to the Savior, yet we flirt with the world and with the Devil constantly. We must be extremely aware of the temptation to talk the talk without walking the walk. Notice how often John admonishes us to make certain our actions are consistent with what we say. “If we say…” (1 John 1:6, 8, 10). Too many want to talk about their faith instead of living it. John says that we must be willing to walk the talk (1 John 2:6). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for many reasons, but among them was the fact that they would “say and do not” (Matt.23:3). The tongue can boast many great things, but the proof of our faith is not in what we say. “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). We may sing, “O, how I love Jesus” loudly and proudly, but if we are not proving our love for Jesus by the way that we live our lives, then the words that we sing ring hollow. We must make a choice (Josh 24:15). We cannot straddle the fence when it comes to choosing Jesus or the world (1 Kings 18:21; Matt.6:24). Will you make a verbal commitment to Jesus, following him in word only? Or will you sign on the dotted line and give yourself to him completely—in thought, in word, and in deed? What will your choice be?

Patrick Morrison

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