I realized that sinful habits make us feel guilty and defeated.
The absence of Christlike character usually doesn’t have a similar effect on us, so there is less motivation to seek change in our lives.
We need to work at ensuring that our commitment to holiness is a commitment to God, not to our own self-esteem.
JERRY BRIDGES, The Discipline of Grace
I’m shying away from commitment. To new things anyway. For a season.
After I graduated my youngest daughter in May, I committed to a time of recovery, a period of adjustment to an empty nest of God, Jeff, and me, before I jumped into anything new.
Keeping that commitment hasn’t been easy.
I’ve felt bad saying no to opportunities. But if that’s what it takes to say yes to God’s rest (and best) for me, shouldn’t I be glad?
Why live right?
In “The Discipline of Commitment”, Chapter 9 in The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges considers:
Which are we more committed to—living an upstanding, moral life or honoring God?
When we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, we need to ensure that our commitment is actually to God, not simply to a holy lifestyle or a set of moral values.
The outward behaviors of a moral life might look the same as those of a properly motivated believer, but the object of commitment is what sets them apart.
Why are we reaching for high moral standards? Is it so we can . . .
- Feel good about ourselves?
- Fit in with our Christian friends?
- Avoid feeling guilty?
Do we finally commit to conquer a besetting sin because it’s become too uncomfortable and threatens to affect our reputation and lifestyle?
Or do we we commit to holy living because doing otherwise dishonors God, which should be the last thing we want to do?
Our commitment to God and his glory isn’t a one-time decision to avoid bad behavior. It’s also a daily commitment to seek good heart change. It’s a decision that needs reaffirming every day.
How? Through intention, says Bridges. “It is the intention to please God in all our actions that is the key to commitment to a life of holiness.”
Intention translates into consistently making right choices, dropping the “just one last time” mentality with sin that undercuts our commitment to God.
But even with the best of intentions, we can’t do it by our own self-discipline. We need divine intervention through the grace of God.
Putting off the old man and putting on the new is Spirit-breathed work.
We can commit to cooperate.
Bridges suggests making a list of personal temptations, then counter each one with a specific commitment. So when I’m tempted to cram too much into my schedule, I need to remember my commitment to bring glory to God by delighting in his season of rest for me.
We should commit ourselves to doing everything we do, not in the way that might seem to bring us the most gain or best accomplish our personal objective, but in the way that will be most pleasing to God.
Only by grace
Keeping our commitments is a gift of grace. Otherwise, we struggle to follow legalistic rules, discounting God’s gospel and glory.
It is the continual reminding of ourselves of His grace and mercy that provides the only enduring motivation to sustain such a commitment and keep it from becoming oppressive. That is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves every day.
I intend to keep my commitment to “no” to extra busyness, but I also commit to the “yes” of using this rest to bring him glory.
* * *
Is there a specific commitment you’re keeping this season?
See more discussion on Chapter 9 at Challie’s
My summaries on Chapters 1-8
It’s Day 4 of my . . .