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Four Essential Qualities of a Committed Christian

It is Jesus who arouses in you the desire to do something great with your life, the will to follow an ideal… the courage to commit yourself humbly and patiently to improve yourself and society, to make the world more human and more fraternal. ~ Pope John Paul II

When I got married decades ago, I have to admit that I didn’t have much faith that the marriage would work out. I had been married before (which didn’t turn out well), and I didn’t really believe that a guy (especially a 60s hippie) would – could be – committed to a long-term relationship. Mentally, I gave us a year, maybe two.

Almost forty years later, we are still together. It is a testament to our commitment and our faith in one another. We have stood the test of time – and survived many major and minor crises and trials. I have to say it was worth it. The benefits of our long-term relationship far outweigh the suffering and sacrifices along the way.

The Bible likens our relationship with Christ to marriage, and that relationship requires a commitment on our part as believers. The wedding vow, “Until death do us part,” is for a lifetime, whether rich or poor, sick or healthy, happy or crazy. With Christ, however, death is not when we part – it’s when we celebrate together in heaven!

Some might say that the institution of marriage is outdated, that it has little meaning in today’s world. I heard the same thing about Christianity. However, Divine Truth does not become inconsequential, inappropriate or obsolete. As we strive to imitate Christ, to honor him not only as Savior but as Lord of our lives, we must commit to follow the mandates of our covenant with him.

The apostle Paul pleaded with the Ephesians to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called (v. 4:1). He wrote similar instructions to the Colossians, saying, “Walk (live and conduct yourselves) worthily of the Lord, being fully pleasing to Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing and increasing steadily in and through the knowledge. of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance and recognition](Col. 1:10 AMP). He also wrote to the church at Thessalonica:… walk worthy of God, who has called you into his kingdom and glory (I Thess. 2:12-13). In other words, he wanted them to honor their commitment as followers of Jesus Christ.

This is essentially what any marriage is for – to develop a deeper knowledge and relationship with the other partner. To be worthy means to deserve; in this case, merit or deserve the designation of Christian. Later in this chapter he reminded the Ephesians to grow in all things in Him, who is the Head, even the Christ (verse 15). The Amplified Bible says, “Let us grow in all ways and in all things.”

Paul and the other apostles spent a lot of time reiterating the principles of Christian living. Why? Paul answered this question in his letter to the Corinthians: I fed you milk and not meat; because until now you couldn’t bear it, and now you couldn’t either (I Cor. 3:2). In other words, they (and we) don’t follow the basics, so there’s no point trying to go any further. Asking God for deeper revelation before we are fully developed in the basics of Christianity is like trying to do algebra or trigonometric before we have learned the basics of math.

We all know the list, of course – the things we are commanded to do in order to bear much fruit (results) for the kingdom. If we live like the rest of the world, our Christian testimony is weak or non-existent. People should be able to look at us and see the love of Christ, strong faith, kindness and compassion. But let’s dig a little deeper.

Faith But without faith it is impossible to please Him. Because he who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he is the rewarder of those who seek him diligently. (Heb. 11:6). Faith means absolute trust. We must wholeheartedly believe that what God said in His Word is absolute and He will do what He says. Is your faith strong enough to stand the test of sickness or lack, knowing without a doubt that God not only can, but will transform your situation? Or do you worry and worry about it, crying and begging for answers?

The longer you are in a relationship, the more you learn to trust the other person. I trust my husband. I know I can absolutely rely on him to protect and provide whatever I need. If all the other people in the world let me down or try to hurt me, I know he won’t. I know the same about God and I can say like the Psalmist: I believe in you [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, without fear or doubt] (Ps. 86:2 AMP).

LoveI give you a new commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you… (John 13:34-35). There are at least 440 Bible verses that speak of love, over a hundred more than faith. When Jesus was asked which commandment was the greatest, he chose love. This world should be so overrun with the love of God that there is no room for hatred, lack, depression or any of the devil’s tools. In the ‘love chapter’, 1 Corinthians 13, Paul explained that though i have all the faith… but i don’t have charity, i am nothing (v. 2).

The depth of love we show is the measuring stick of true Christianity. It is easy to love friends, a little harder to walk constantly in love with our loved ones; and even harder to find compassion for the grumpy, difficult people around us. Yet this is what we are commanded to do – set aside our human feelings and demonstrate agape love: love [that] endures long and is patient and kind…never envious…jealous…conceited…rude…does not insist on his own way [and] is not touchy, restless or resentful (I Cor. 13:4-5 AMP). Verse 5 continues: [love] pays no attention to a wrong suffered. Doing this requires a strong commitment to God, trusting Him to take care of us no matter what others do.

Forgivenessand be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, as God forgave you for Christ’s sake. (Eph. 4:14). Hand in hand with love, there is forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. We must learn to forgive on purpose – because God asks us to – not because we “feel” like it.

There have been many times when I had to walk away from my husband because he hit me over something. I learned (the hard way, I might add) to push those feelings away and say, “You and I, Lord. You are all I need. It’s my way of caring about him because I know he cares about me. I like the way Amplified explains it: sinking all of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns once and for all] (I Peter 5:7). My commitment to God and my wife demands that I forgive and forget instantly. I have to let go. Holding grudges is not a way to maintain a relationship. This is true for everyone with everyone. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15). God expects it – requires it – of us.

Patience do not be lazy, but follow those who by faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12). Patience is the ability to maintain your joy, peace, love, etc. despite the irritations and delays that inevitably arise.

Can you stand in line at the checkout without showing impatience? Can you be satisfied with what you have while waiting in faith for God to change your situation in His time? Can you honestly say, “In you I trust” without trying to solve the problem on your own?

I remember how impatient I was when I was younger. I wanted it all and I wanted it NOW! Waiting was such a challenge. The result was unbearable debt, constant worries and struggles – all because I had to have everything I needed at the time!

My dad had a saying printed at the top of our family business scorecards: “Do what’s right. Do it right because it’s right.” Patience helps us do the things we don’t want to do, wait for the things we want because it’s the right thing to do, and do the right thing no matter how we feel. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that you may be well, and come in and possess the good land… (Deut. 6:18).

There are many other qualities to imitate and practice as part of our commitment to God, but these four, faith, love, patience, and forgiveness, are essential. As we focus on his wisdom and ways, he has promised to keep it and keep it in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] relies on You, because he entrusts himself to You, relies on You and hopes in You with confidence. (Is. 26:3 AMP) If we do our part, He will see that His promises come true in our lives. All it takes is commitment.

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