When you think about your commitment to God, what does that entail? It’s kind of an interesting question because we are “grace” people. We are saved by the grace of God. We don’t earn our salvation. It’s given freely to us (Ephesians 2:8-9).
So an initial response to the idea that I have a commitment to God to fulfill might be – “N/A.” Not applicable. There’s nothing I have to do to stay in God’s good graces, to remain in relationship with him. He just gives and gives and gives. And I am the blessed recipient of his giving.
Here is what I know is true: We do not earn our salvation. We do not work our way into God’s grace somehow – by being good enough or by praying the right prayers. That’s not how God operates in Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two. Our sins are forgiven, and because our sin are forgiven, no barrier exists between us and God. This is so much the case that God even comes to dwell in us – like he did in the temple – through the Holy Spirit.
This is powerful stuff that is the heart of the gospel.
But am I committed to God in any way? Is there anything that is due God in this “new covenant” Jesus talked about in Matthew 26:28? Is God OK with Christians living just any kind of life? What does it mean to be “holy” as God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16)?
I thought about these things as I read the covenant the Israelites were renewing with God. They told God everything they were going to do in being a holy people who had “separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God.” I’m trying to figure out the connection between them and us. What are we going to do in being a holy people who have separated ourselves for the sake of Jesus Christ?
Here’s what the people in Nehemiah’s day committed to do:
- They pledged not to intermarry with the people of the lands. Intermarriage in the past led the people into idolatry – to the worship of false gods.
- They pledged not to buy and sell on the sabbath. The holiness of the sabbath points to the completion of God’s work – and it points to the restoration of the kingdom of Israel and its king. Read about the sabbath in Jeremiah 17:24-25 when you get a chance.
- They pledged to forgive debts every seventh year. Mercy is God’s way.
- They pledged to provide grain for the offerings in the temple. The offerings, in part, marked a recognition that all good things come from God. Gratitude is embedded in these offerings.
- They pledged to provide wood for sacrifices at the temple. A key sacrifice was made for the atonement of the people’s sins.
- They pledged to provide the firstfruits of all they had to God. If you are giving your firstfruits, you are trusting that God will supply your needs with whatever may come along after the firstfruits. You are trusting in God’s continued provision for your life.
Can we make pledges like this to God? Can we commit ourselves to him in this way? We make mistakes, and we fall short. But I desire to commit myself to God in the same way the Israelites did. This must be the work of the Holy Spirit.
- I want nothing to do with false worship. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of my praise (John 14:6).
- I am hoping and praying for God’s Sabbath rest to come to full reality, not just for me but for the whole kingdom of God (Hebrews 4:1-10).
- I desire to be a person of mercy. After all, God has been merciful to me (Matthew 18:21-35).
- I do want to live a life of gratitude, recognizing that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
- I do recognize the Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:11-14).
- And I do want to give God the first and best from all that I have, just as Mary and Joseph did so long ago (Luke 2:22-35) and just as God did himself (John 3:16).
I think it’s a good question for us as Christians. What is our commitment to God? How can we live our lives to give God what is due him? If we’ve truly separated ourselves from the ways of the world and are clinging to Christ, what does that kind of life look like?