I have a great time coaching my two daughters in soccer. They are in the Under-8 league and we have a total of 16 players on our team. It gets a little difficult trying to play all 16 children in a game that only allows 9 at a time, but seeing their little faces light up when they score a goal makes it all worthwhile. As I was talking to a parent on another team, I was surprised to hear how their team is going. She said they can never get more than 7 of their players to come to practice, and they also have 16. The issue is that the people just don’t show up, but they have also had a few children quit the team.
The main issue with that soccer team is commitment. When I played soccer, I was taught you owe it to the team to show up at practice to learn how to play so that you can be a better teammate. Sure enough, that soccer team has children that have no idea how to play because they don’t come to practice. So, what happens during those games? The children that don’t show up to practice are a hindrance to the rest of the team because they haven’t been learning like everybody else.
The character attribute of commitment is becoming more and more scarce. If you sign up to be on a team then you are committing to that team for the season. I also serve on our girls’ School Site Council. I remember last year someone was on the council who did not show up to 1 meeting the whole year! Do things come up? Sure. Do life interruptions happen? Of course. But why sign up to be on a committee if you are not going to make one meeting? Why sign up to play on a soccer team to quit halfway through? I’m sure you’ve seen it in your life as well. People who have said they would be somewhere, and then don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. What happened to keeping your word? To commitment?
We have seen this trickle into the church as well. There are people who really struggle with being committed to their attendance or their ministry. I would bet that most of us have trouble committing to our spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading. Some have told us that this is their church, only to not come back for months. We have even had people join the church as members only to simply stop coming. It makes me wonder, where is the commitment? Again, we need to be gracious and understanding because we all have life interruptions and situations that come up last minute. But those should be the exception, not the norm.
In the book of Hosea, God shows His anger with Israel because of their lack of loyalty, their lack of commitment. In chapter 6 verse 4, God calls Israel’s loyalty like a ‘morning cloud’ or like the ‘dew which goes away early.’ Basically, God is saying that their loyalty is quick to fade away. Sure they probably make grand statements about how loyal they will be, but their actions do not back up those words. Verse 6 says that God ‘delights in loyalty rather than sacrifice.’ God wants you committed to Him and His cause rather than a big gift every now and then. That should really shake us up. Can I put it another way? God wants us, not the things we can give Him. He wants our whole heart committed to Him, our whole life devoted to Him. The word for loyalty back in v 4 is a word for ‘love.’ Their love for God was like a morning cloud or the dew that fades away. That makes their lack of commitment even more heartbreaking.
In our life, in general, we need to hold to our commitments. If you sign up for something, or promise you will do something, then come through with it; even if it will inconvenience you. Because your word is your bond. And, when it comes to God, make your commitment to Him like the blazing sun not the morning clouds. Put Him first, devote yourself to Him, and He will not let you down.
Pastor Mark Scialabba