Commitment. Usually when someone is talking about commitment, he’s referring to commitment between couples: “He’s afraid of commitment, so he won’t propose.” “They’re committing themselves to each other with these promises.” But let’s take a look at the definition and see where else and how else we can apply it to our lives.
Commit. I tend to go the Merriam-Webster dictionary because that’s usually the easiest to access and understand. We’re going to look at the intransitive verb “commit” as that’s the use I’m going to talk about. This is what they have to say:
1 : to obligate or pledge oneself
Obligate and pledge sound exactly like what we’re talking about when we say, “They commit themselves to each other.” This can translate to, “They pledge themselves to each other.”
Dictionary.com—a site I don’t often travel to but offers a good definition in this case—says this:
to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge:
to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.
I like that word, “bind.” I think that’s a good word to use with commit.
Commitment, then, is the noun that comes out of the verb. It’s the thing that comes from the doing or the action. To commit yourself is to make a commitment. Simple enough, right?
Just this morning, I started listening to a new podcast: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Vanessa and Casper, the hosts, are reading Harry Potter as if it were a sacred text. I’ve only listened to the first half of the first episode, but I love Harry Potter—a lot—and in those first 20 minutes, they presented some really great insights into the world and characters I love. Their main focus is simply taking each chapter and reading it through a different kind of lens. The first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is read with a lens of commitment, thus sparking my interest in writing this post.
Vanessa brought up the fact that so often when we’re talking about someone we say things like, “She is such a sweet person,” or “He is so kind and caring.” We say this as if these traits are things you’re born with—innate qualities you either have or you don’t. Is this really true, though?
Vanessa didn’t think so, and I agree. She said if a person commits to being kind and sweet and caring, then he can be kind and sweet and caring. We have to make a commitment to ourselves to be kind and caring and sweet, and all the other characteristics we desire to be. Do you want to be more organized but have always been a disorganized person? Then change it. Commit to being organized.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It surely isn’t and it won’t be, especially if you’re changing something you’ve been practicing for so long. You might be trained to be disorganized, so you have to forget and forgo all of your disorganized habits. That will take dedication, practice, patience, and commitment.
There are some characteristics we all must commit ourselves to. I’ve lately been studying Heidi Goehmann’s Think on These with a group of women. This study takes apart Philippians 4:8, which I’m sure you’ve heard before:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
These are the qualities we should all commit ourselves to, as Christ tells us. We should commit to being true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. What an overwhelming and intimidating idea!
Again, this isn’t easy. Only one person has done that before: Jesus Christ. We cannot be perfectly true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise, but we can commit ourselves to being the best we possibly can, with Jesus guiding and leading us along the way.
Brothers and sisters, today I encourage you to commit yourself to Philippians 4:8. Make a pledge to yourself to be more true, more honorable, just, pure, and so on. Then, when you fail, turn to God and ask for help. We can’t do that alone. Trying to follow Philippians 4:8 without God is like trying to play baseball without a ball. You just can’t do it.
Ask God for guidance, strength, and direction, and commit to being what Christ calls us to be.