In The Corporate Coach by James B. Miller, a book on my shelf that is left over from a long-abandoned career in sales management, James Miller discusses the role of “the twitch in your elbow” while interviewing job applicants. Gut instinct, we might say. And a big part of that, he says, is the commitment the applicant shows toward other activities. If he’s a scratch golfer, he didn’t get there just with 18 holes on Saturday. Maybe he’ll cut out of work early some days. If he’s out on his boat every weekend, who’s to say he won’t miss a few Monday mornings?
Commitment is a character trait not everyone has. It is to be admired. I have little use for someone who cannot commit — a “fan” who can’t name any players on his favorite team, a “reader” who quits the book club in week two, a husband or wife who runs out at the first sign of trouble. But the only commitment that matters, ultimately, is our commitment to Christ. (That commitment has implications regarding marriage, obviously. We’ll discuss Matthew 19:9 another time.) And the stronger our other commitments are, the weaker our commitment to Jesus will be. Too many thorns, to borrow from Mark 4:18.
How many times do we catch ourselves making excuses for inadequate service to God that are rooted in our commitment to other, lesser causes? At what point do they become our master instead of Jesus (Luke 16:13)? We would all agree that such things can be taken too far. The question is, has “too far” already appeared in our rearview mirror?
Jesus rejects the prospective disciple who will not “hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life” (Luke 14:26). He compares such a one to a king going to war without measuring his ability to pursue the battle to completion, or one who begins building a tower without the resources to finish. If we want Jesus to make an eternal commitment to us, we must be willing to make one to Him.