Week of Prayer for Friday
In the day and age in which we live, it seems there are very few people making lasting commitments to anything. The commitment to marriage appears to be almost lost—by the church as well as by the world—and commitment to God, our faith, and many other things seem to be losing out also. In this time, many young people are not choosing to make a lasting commitment to the Lord and to His cause. Instead, they are going out into the world.
What is commitment? A dictionary offers several definitions of the word commitment, including: “the trait of sincere and steadfast fixity of purpose; the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.” Commitment involves forfeiture of your rights and privileges for someone else or for a cause; it involves responsibility.
What is commitment to God? Making a commitment to God involves entrusting your life to Him and choosing to serve Him, whatever the cost. A man by the name of Jim Elliot, who gave all for the Auca Indians, puts it this way: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 1996, 172. When we commit our lives and ourselves to God, we are only giving back to Him what He has already given to us. To try to have a relationship with God without commitment is selfish.
God wants people who are committed to Him; committed people can be trusted with responsibility. If there is no commitment, they cannot be trusted. It is like an army. A soldier cannot be effective in an army if he is not committed to the work of that army. If he is not committed to the cause of the army, he cannot be trusted. One day, he might switch sides and join enemy forces. It is the same with the Lord. If we are truly His, we must be committed to Him and His work. Not being thus committed to Him indicates that we are too selfish to trust the Lord with our lives, and we cannot be trusted.
God is waiting for us to make a commitment to Him and His cause.
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.” Education, 57.
“For your present and eternal good it is best to commit yourself wholly to the right, that the world may know where you are standing. Many are not wholly committed to the cause of God, and their position of wavering is a source of weakness in itself, and a stone of stumbling to others. With principles unsettled, unconsecrated as they are, the waves of temptation sweep them away from what they know to be right, and they do not make holy endeavor to overcome every wrong, and through the imputed righteousness of Christ, perfect a righteous character.
“The world has a right to know just what may be expected from every intelligent human being. He who is a living embodiment of firm, decided, righteous principles, will be a living power upon his associates; and he will influence others by his Christianity. Many do not discern and appreciate how great is the influence of each one for good or evil. Every student should understand that the principles which he adopts become a living, molding influence upon character. He who accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, will love Jesus, and all for whom Christ has died; for Christ will be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. He will surrender himself without reservation to the rule of Christ.” Messages to Young People, 28, 29.
“Never did greater responsibilities await the youth than await them now. Never was it more important that a right mould be given to the character of the rising generation. Upon every youth, God has bestowed varied capabilities, mental, moral, and physical; and he requires that those be cultivated and improved. We are formed for activity; every power of mind and body must be developed, strengthened, and increased by use. No one should feel that he is his own master, and can do as he pleases with his time and his intellect. Time and talents belong to God, and he has intrusted them to us, to be employed for his glory.” The Signs of the Times, August 23, 1883.
In considering making a commitment to God, there is a tendency to wonder, Am I going to lose something or miss out on something in this life? Especially is this the case for those who are young, since there are many things in life they have not yet experienced. Many young people question, If I commit my life to God now, will I miss out on some pleasure or fun in this life? Since I am a young adult, these questions have come to my mind also. There are several answers that I have found in inspired writings.
First, God has said in His Word, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; . . . Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:3, 4. God desires to give us our desires! On the other hand, He is a father, so He does not always give us what we want because it is not for our best interest. Sometimes God does not give us what we desire because He is looking at the big picture and sees that which we do not. “We have a wise, loving heavenly Father, who hears the prayers of His children. But He does not always give them what they desire. He withholds that which He sees would not be for their good. But He bestows on them all that they need. He gives them that which is necessary for growth in grace. When we pray, we should say, ‘Lord, if what I ask for is for my good, give it to me; but if it is not, withhold it, but give me Thy blessings.’ The Lord hears our petitions; He understands our situation, and He will supply the very thing we need. He will strengthen our faith and increase our spirituality. The Lord is good and merciful, perfect in understanding and infinite in wisdom.” The Upward Look, 369.
Second, for anything that we may “miss out on” in this life, God has promised ample repayment. “Jesus does not require of man any real sacrifice; for whatever we are asked to surrender is only that which we are better off without. We are only letting go the lesser, the more worthless, for the greater, the more valuable. Every earthly, temporal consideration must be subordinate to the higher. But abundant blessings are promised to sincere faith and obedience. ‘Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life.’ [Matthew 19:29.]” Review and Herald, August 11, 1891. This is the reward of those who commit themselves to God’s service. God will more than one hundred times make up the things that we may lose in this life for serving Him and give us eternal life.
Remember Now Your Creator in the Days of Your Youth . . .
Why should you commit your life to God while you are young? When you are young, there is a tendency to think that you have many years left to live, so you can enjoy some worldly pleasures now and come back to God later. The wisest man who ever lived has something to say about this: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth . . . .” Ecclesiastes 12:1. When you are young is the best time to commit your life to the Lord. First of all, you can devote more of your life to God’s service. Second, when you are young, you are not yet set in habits, and it is easier to be molded for use in God’s service. Third, if you go out into the world now, when you are young, it is not going to be easy to come back and commit your life to the Lord. In fact, it will be much harder. You will have formed bad habits—things you have seen and listened to that cannot be erased from your mind—with which to battle, that you would not have had, had you not strayed from the Lord. Fourth, everyone has influence upon others. If you choose not to live for Christ, others, by your example, may choose not to live for Him either.
“Do not for a moment suppose that religion will make you sad and gloomy and will block up the way to success. The religion of Christ does not obliterate or even weaken a single faculty. It in no way incapacitates you for the enjoyment of any real happiness; it is not designed to lessen your interest in life, or to make you indifferent to the claims of friends and society. It does not mantle the life in sackcloth; it is not expressed in deep-drawn sighs and groans. No, no; those who in everything make God first and last and best, are the happiest people in the world. Smiles and sunshine are not banished from their countenance. Religion does not make the receiver coarse and rough, untidy and uncourteous; on the contrary, it elevates and ennobles him, refines his taste, sanctifies his judgment, and fits him for the society of heavenly angels and for the home that Jesus has gone to prepare.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 83, 84.
“Jesus wants the service of those who have the dew of youth upon them. He wants them to be heirs of immortality. They may grow up into a noble manhood and womanhood, notwithstanding the moral pollutions that abound, and that corrupt so many of the youth at an early age. There is no happiness or safety but in the fear of the Lord. Young friends, morning and evening let your prayers go up from unfeigned lips that the Holy Spirit may take possession of your hearts and keep you from the seductive influences of the world. Work for Jesus; stand up for Jesus; and he will stand up for you in the day of God’s vengeance.” The Signs of the Times, September 11, 1884.
“Young people who follow Christ have a warfare before them; they have a daily cross to bear in coming out from the world, and being separate, and imitating the life of Christ. But there are many precious promises on record for those who seek their Saviour early. . . . ‘Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.’ Wisdom calls to the sons of men, ‘I love them that love me; and they that seek me early shall find me.’ They will find that the ‘path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day;’ and at the last, the Judge of all the earth will give every one according to his works. [Ecclesiastes 12:1; Proverbs 8:17; 4:18.]” Review and Herald, July 15, 1884.
“Dear youth, the very best thing you can do is to enlist freely and decidedly in the army of the Lord. Surrender yourself into the hands of God, that your will and ways may be guided by the One who is unerring in wisdom and infinite in goodness. . . . Let your name be enrolled in the heavenly records as one of the chosen and elect of God.” Our High Calling, 219.
“Early piety insures to its possessor the full enjoyment of all that makes life happy, and will give him a right to the future, immortal life. Those who seek God early have the assurance that they shall find him. Those who wait until the span of life is almost ended before they seek God, lose a life of pure, elevated happiness,—happiness that never comes in the pursuit of the pleasures that this life affords. Those who have been long acquainted with God, who from their youth have drawn their happiness from the pure fountain of heaven, are prepared to enter the family of God.
“Good and evil are set before the youth of today. They are left free to choose which they will. In yielding to Satan, they give up eternal happiness for pleasures which are vain and fleeting. That which he promises them they never obtain; for the path of sin is a path of sorrow.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 25, 1900.
In the Bible, we find many examples of youth who gave their lives to God and His service. Joseph, when a teenager, was sold into slavery. There are few characters in the Bible about which nothing bad is said, and Joseph is one of them. He committed his life to God, no matter what. He did not deny his faith when tempted by Potiphar’s wife. In fact, he went to prison unjustly because he was committed to God. “Loyalty to God, faith in the Unseen, was Joseph’s anchor. In this lay the hiding of his power.” Education, 54.
Daniel was another person who committed his life to the Lord when he was young. He was removed from his family at a young age and taken to the court of the greatest monarch of that time. The greatest wealth, fame, and temptations were all around him, and yet, because of his commitment to God, he did not fall for the temptations. God honored Daniel and his friends for their faithfulness to Him by giving them understanding greater than all others of Babylon. Daniel is another Bible character of whom no fault could be found.
“The same mighty truths that were revealed through these men, God desires to reveal through the youth and the children of today. The history of Joseph and Daniel is an illustration of what He will do for those who yield themselves to Him and with the whole heart seek to accomplish His purpose.” Ibid., 57.
Moses, who was younger than Joseph or Daniel when taken from his parental home, also chose to commit his life to God. God’s principles had been taught to him by his mother in his youth, which laid the foundation for his greatness in God’s cause. “These histories are of vital interest. To none are they of deeper importance than to the youth. Moses renounced a prospective kingdom, Paul the advantages of wealth and honor among his people, for a life of burden bearing in God’s service. To many the life of these men appears one of renunciation and sacrifice. Was it really so? Moses counted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. He counted it so because it was so. Paul declared: ‘What things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ.’ Philippians 3:7, 8, R.V., margin. He was satisfied with his choice.
“Moses was offered the palace of the Pharaohs and the monarch’s throne; but the sinful pleasures that make men forget God were in those lordly courts, and he chose instead the ‘durable riches and righteousness.’ Proverbs 8:18. Instead of linking himself with the greatness of Egypt, he chose to bind up his life with God’s purpose. Instead of giving laws to Egypt, he by divine direction enacted laws for the world. He became God’s instrument in giving to men those principles that are the safeguard alike of the home and of society, that are the cornerstone of the prosperity of nations—principles recognized today by the world’s greatest men as the foundation of all that is best in human governments.” Ibid., 68, 69.
Another example of commitment in youth was Jeremiah, who was called to work for the Lord. “Among those who had hoped for a permanent spiritual revival as the result of the reformation under Josiah was Jeremiah, called of God to the prophetic office while still a youth. . . .
“In the youthful Jeremiah, God saw one who would be true to his trust and who would stand for the right against great opposition. . . . ‘Say not, I am a child,’ the Lord bade His chosen messenger; ‘for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee.’ [Jeremiah 1:7, 8.]” Conflict and Courage, 237.
In modern times, there lived a woman by the name of Betty Scott Stam who wrote the following commitment to the Lord when she was about eighteen years old: “Lord, I give up all of my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all, utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt. Send me where Thou wilt and work out Thy whole will in my life. At any cost. Now and forever.” Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be A Woman, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 1976, VIII. Betty Scott Stam went to China as a missionary and married another missionary, John Stam, in China. A few months after they were married, they were captured by Chinese Communists and marched off to their deaths, leaving behind a tiny baby girl. Betty stayed true and firm to her commitment to the Lord.
Another person whose commitment to the Lord came first was Jim Elliot. He, along with several others, went as a missionary to the jungles of Ecuador. They went to try to reach a Stone Age tribe that later murdered them. Jim knew that it might mean losing his life to reach this tribe, but he said, “I’m ready to die for the salvation of the Aucas.” Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, 172. His commitment to God was so firm that he was willing to lay down his life.
Call for Commitment
Today, God is calling for commitment to Him and to His cause. “The burden-bearers among us are falling in death. Many of those who have been foremost in carrying out the reforms instituted by us as a people, are now past the meridian of life, and are declining in physical and mental strength. With the deepest concern the question may be asked, Who will fill their places? To whom are to be committed the vital interests of the church when the present standard-bearers fall? We cannot but look anxiously upon the youth of today as those who must take these burdens, and upon whom responsibilities must fall. These must take up the work where others leave it, and their course will determine whether morality, religion, and vital godliness shall prevail, or whether immorality and infidelity shall corrupt and blight all that is valuable.” Gospel Workers, 68.
“There is a great work before us, and each individual has a special part to act. We shall not all have the very same line of service, but if we will commit our ways fully unto the Lord, He will direct our paths. Oh, that there were hundreds more of consecrated young people! God wants a large army of earnest, consecrated youth to gird on the armor, and to fight manfully the battles of the Lord. There is a work for each one to do.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 286.
“With such an army of workers as our youth, rightly trained, might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come—the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where ‘the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever;’ where ‘the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick,’ and ‘the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.’ Psalm 37:29; Isaiah 33:24; 65:19.” Education, 271.
“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to everyone whose heart Christ has touched.” Ibid., 262.
“Those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel should be faithful soldiers in Christ’s army. They should never be disloyal, never be untrue. Many of the young will volunteer to stand with Jesus, the Prince of life. But if they would continue to stand with Him they must constantly look unto Jesus, their Captain, for His orders. They cannot be soldiers of Christ, and yet engage with the confederacy of Satan, and help on his side, for then they would be enemies of Christ. They would betray sacred trusts. They would form a link between Satan and the true soldiers, so that through these living agencies the enemy would be constantly working to steal away the hearts of Christ’s soldiers.
“I ask you, dear youth, who profess to be soldiers of Jesus Christ, what battles have you fought? What have been your engagements? When the word of God has plainly revealed your work, have you refused to do it because it did not suit your inclination? Has the attraction of the world allured you from the service of Christ? Satan is employed in devising specious allurements; and by transgression in what seem little matters he draws you away from Jesus. Then larger attractions are presented to seduce you fully from God.
“You may have your name upon the church books and claim to be a child of God, yet your example, your influence, misrepresents the character of Christ, and you lead others away from Him. There is no happiness, no peace or joy, to a professed believer whose whole soul is not enlisted in the work the Lord has given him to do. He is constantly bringing the world into the church, not by repentance and confession and surrender to God, but by surrendering more and more to the world, and engaging on Satan’s side in the battle rather than on Christ’s side.
“I would appeal to the youth to cut the finest thread which binds you in practice and in spirit with the world. ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ [11 Corinthians 6:17, 18.]
“Will our youth heed this voice of invitation? How little do our young people realize the necessity of setting before their youthful associates a Christlike example in their life and character. Many of our youth understand the theory of the truth, but how few understand by experimental knowledge the practical bearing of the truth upon their every action. Where are youthful missionaries doing any work that presents itself to them in the great harvest field? Where are those who are daily learners in the school of Christ? Let them never feel that they are prepared to graduate. Let them wait in the courts of the Lord, that they may be directed as to how to work in unison with the heavenly intelligences. Dear youth, I wish to speak decidedly to you because I want you to be saved. Lose no more time. You cannot serve God and mammon. You may apparently be Christians, but when temptations come, when sorely tried, do you not generally yield?” Messages to Young People, 138–140.
“God is weighing our characters, our conduct, and our motives in the balances of the sanctuary. It will be a fearful thing to be pronounced wanting in love and obedience by our Redeemer, who died upon the cross to draw our hearts unto Him. God has bestowed upon us great and precious gifts. He has given us light and a knowledge of His will, so that we need not err or walk in darkness. To be weighed in the balance and found wanting in the day of final settlement and rewards will be a fearful thing, a terrible mistake which can never be corrected. Young friends, shall the book of God be searched in vain for your names?
“God has appointed you a work to do for Him which will make you colaborers with Him. All around you there are souls to save. There are those whom you can encourage and bless by your earnest efforts. You may turn souls from sin to righteousness. When you have a sense of your accountability to God you will feel the need of faithfulness in prayer and faithfulness in watching against the temptations of Satan. You will, if you are indeed Christians, feel more like mourning over the moral darkness in the world than indulging in levity and pride of dress. You will be among those who are sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. You will resist the temptations of Satan to indulge in vanity and in trimmings and ornaments for display. The mind is narrowed and the intellect dwarfed that can be gratified with these frivolous things to the neglect of high responsibilities.
“The youth in our day may be workers with Christ if they will; and in working, their faith will strengthen and their knowledge of the divine will will increase. Every true purpose and every act of right doing will be recorded in the book of life. I wish I could arouse the youth to see and feel the sinfulness of living for their own gratification and dwarfing their intellects to the cheap, vain things of this life. If they would elevate their thoughts and words above the frivolous attractions of this world and make it their aim to glorify God, His peace, which passeth all understanding, would be theirs.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 370, 371.
Now is the time to choose to make a commitment to God to serve Him at whatever the cost and wherever He leads. Youth is the best time to commit your life to the Lord.
Jana Grosboll, an Electrical Engineering graduate student, serves Steps to Life as its Network Administrator.