Summary: Zeal is great when it is directed by God. It can be very destructive when it is not.
Where is your commitment?
Let me begin with three illustrations. (Slide of picture of Howard Hughes in his youth)
All he ever really wanted in life was more. He wanted more money, so he parlayed inherited wealth into a billion-dollar pile of assets. He wanted more fame, so he broke into the Hollywood scene and soon became a filmmaker and star. He wanted more sensual pleasures, so he paid handsome sums to indulge his every sexual urge. He wanted more thrills, so he designed, built, and piloted the fastest aircraft in the world. He wanted more power, so he secretly dealt political favors so skillfully that two U.S. presidents became his pawns. All he ever wanted was more. He was absolutely convinced that more would bring him true satisfaction. Sadly, history shows otherwise.*
He concluded his life—emaciated; colorless; sunken chest; fingernails in grotesque, inches-long corkscrews; rotting, black teeth; tumors; innumerable needle marks from his drug addiction. Howard Hughes died, believing the myth of more. He died a billionaire junkie, insane by all reasonable standards. (Illustration from Leadership Magazine, Bill Hybles)
Would you say that Howard Hughes was committed? Absolutely!
Next (Slide of Twin Towers in New York)
They planned their own deaths and hoped for the deaths of as many others as possible. In an effort that developed over a period of years they plotted and carefully put together their nightmarish scheme. They scheduled everything to have the most dramatic impact they could think of. They worked together and received training for piloting passenger jets so that they could carry out an attack on the United States as an act of terrorism that we now call by its date: 9-11.
Would you say that these men were committed? To the death!
Next (blank slide till the word "crucified", then image of Christ on the cross)
He was born and raised in obscurity. As an adult he was baptized along with many others and began a ministry traveling about within his own country. He became a well known preacher and miracle worker and within a short period of time and began to speak openly against the current national leadership’s corruption. He made subtle and not so subtle claims of divinity and gathered and organized followers into a powerful movement that threatened to overwhelm those in high religious positions. In jealousy the national leaders conspired against him and put him to death. He willingly accepted their penalty of crucifixion as an act of obedience to God the Father.
Would you say that Jesus was committed? Praise God, yes!
There are many good causes that deserve committed people who will take up the challenge and work and serve in them. There are other things that demand our time and attention that we may work and serve in, but not whole heartedly or with what we might describe as true commitment. Then there are things that capture people’s attention and hearts and drive them to pursue with a devotion and a false sense of hope for fulfillment or sense of importance only to end in disappointment or despair.
The power of commitment is that it focuses your energies and resources. The danger of commitment is that you can be committed to the wrong things. The Bible is filled with examples of people who were committed, some to right, and others to wrong things.
Today I want to begin a series of talks with you about this question: Where is your commitment?
Perhaps a better question would be where are your commitments? We can get so watered down with so many so called important things and responsibilities that we can lose track of what really matters. Our commitments end up running our lives, don’t they? Some of us spend our lives jumping from commitment to commitment hoping somehow that in the end we will have accomplished something worthwhile. Or that somewhere along the way we will finally find it: that one thing we are cut out for that really toots our horn. The truth is that you can run to the end of the highway and come back and not find what your searching for.
The Bible tells us: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps. Jeremiah 10:23. We all need guidance in where to place our devotion and make our commitments. You don’t want to look back on life and see a string of activities that smack of insignificance and wasted efforts. Do you? Sometimes what seems so valuable at the moment seems like a waste of time later on. I don’t want to live my life that way, do you?
That’s one of the reasons I follow Jesus Christ. That’s one of the reasons we gather for Bible study and worship. That’s one of the reasons we pray and read scripture and seek to listen to the voice of God and pursue His will. It is also one of the reasons we all need examples and models to live by, and fellowship with fellow followers of Christ to share life with, and awareness of those without Christ around us to reach out to. Simply put, we need to be constantly building our relationship with Jesus Christ, serving with fellow followers of Christ, seeking to win others to Christ.