One of the major problems with Christians today is that they keep trying to be more committed. Don’t get me wrong. It is a good thing to want to be a stronger Christian. But the problem is that we often go about it in the wrong way.
Let me give you an example. Susan is a Christian woman. Recently, her friend offended her by something she said. So, Susan stopped speaking to her. Susan knows her broken relationship dishonors God, so she resolves to try and be civil to her friend the next time she sees her at church. Yet next Sunday when Susan sees her offensive friend in the church lobby, her mind races with the insulting words her friend used toward her. Susan finds herself growing angry again and, instead of speaking civilly to her friend, she gives her an icy stare and passes her by. Later, ashamed of her un-Christlike behavior, Susan resolves to be nicer to her friend the next time she sees her. However, when she next comes across her former friend, the woman turns away from her and begins to speak to someone else. Insulted at being snubbed, Susan storms off in a huff. So the broken relationship continues to spiral. Periodically Susan will make a fresh commitment to try harder to be cordial to her former friend, but her resolve inevitably ends in failure. What is the problem? Susan has made the classic mistake of assuming that her Christian life is based on her commitments. It is not.
The problem with making commitments to God is that their focus and success is based on us, and our effort. It is up to us to keep our commitments. Though we may have the best intentions, we don’t have the power to overcome the sin that continually trips us up. What we need is surrender.
Jesus said if we are to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross (Matthew 16:24). That’s surrender. That pictures a condemned man who has submitted to his impending crucifixion. There were no further appeals or hope of deliverance. Likewise, Galatians 2:20 claims that it is Christ who wants tolive out His life in us. Yet Christ can’t live His life in us, if we are consumed with trying to keep all the commitments we have made. Keeping commitments is ultimately self-centered. We choose what we are committed to do. We choose the method and the timetable. Surrendering to Christ and His will is God-centered. When we surrender our will to Christ, it is His responsibility to accomplish His work in us.
The problem with Susan was that she was trying to live out Christ’s life in her own power, and that’s impossible. All of the commitments in the world will not free us from the sin that continually thwarts our best intentions. While Susan knew she ought to forgive her friend, she had not crucified her pride, or her desire to be treated in a certain way or her sinful motivation to harm those who injured her. As long as she held on to her sin, making commitments was futile. But when she surrendered her pride, hurt feelings, and spitefulness, to Christ, He was able to remove from her everything that was holding her back from acting like Christ.
I regularly see people who come to the altar at church at the close of a service. Some do so repeatedly as they continually make fresh commitments to act in a godly manner. Yet they must do so because their former commitments did not work. Others come before God, broken, and surrendered. They recognize that they are powerless to change themselves. They can only place their life on the altar and plead with God to set them free.
There are some great books on this subject, such as Andrew Murray’s Absolute Surrender, and L. E. Maxwell’s, Born Crucified. My prayer is that you will experience significant spiritual breakthroughs in your life in the coming days!