Optional, Or Commitment
 Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama

    Why do you do what you do? Why do you act the way you act? Why are some things done with great determination while other things are done reluctantly, if at all? Why is it that some announced intentions never seem to become accomplishments? Why do you say, and do not? Why do you give an assurance that you will follow through on your promises, and then fail to do so? Why? Why? Why? And lest you imagine that I am picking on you, why do I fall into the same pattern as you? Why me? Why? Why? Why?
    What seems to be so simple when we agree to a matter becomes such an unexplainable and unjustifiable failure when the time comes to do what ever it was that we agreed to do originally. We just do not do what we have said that we would do. And this is an all too common characteristic of us all from time to time, and for some of us almost all the time. We are not only fickle, we are predictably unpredictable when it comes to doing what we have announced that we would do. And what an awesome and dreadful indictment falls upon us, simply because we do not do what we have said that we would do.
    I am not speaking of matters in which we are providentially hindered. I am speaking of matters in which the failure is entirely upon our own heads. I am speaking of the fact that our word, when given, does not have the commitment that it should have. I am speaking of the moral decline that has infected us all to some degree, some more than others of course. And why is this? Is it not because our moral fiber has been, and is being further eroded by the ravages of sin on the human mind and deceitful hearts that we still possess? Is it not because we are still sinners, and the fruits of unrighteousness and of the flesh are still rampant in our lives? "Oh, wretched man that I am ..."
    What is the difference between OPTIONAL, and COMMITMENT? Simply put, if a matter can be ignored or denied, then it is optional to the one who so ignores or denies. If a person can do a thing, or not do a thing, that person is acting with option. If a person can state an intention of doing a thing, and then walk away from doing that thing, then that person is acting with option. If a person can begin to do a stated thing, and then fall away from the completion of that thing, then that person is acting with option. And how many of us can claim exemption from this tendency?
    When we consider the commandments that God has given to us, we must also consider that these are commandments that God requires of us, and these are NOT options that we may, or may not exercise at our will, without being in direct violation of the commandment. It is not optional when God commands us, or when He commissions us. What God says is what He means, and to disregard His instructions constitutes disobedience. There is no other way to say it. It is disobedience. And disobedience always has its consequences.
    Consider this straight forward commandment that God has spoken: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25). Is this clear? Are there options that can be exercised as men would debate with God as to whether or not they will meet with the church at the appointed time? This is not optional! And yet, many of those who profess to be saved do just that. They debate as to whether or not they will assemble with the saints on the Lord's day, or on other occasions when the church is scheduled to meet.
    There are also many instances when those who profess to be the Lord's people go through the
majority of their life time just drifting around, from one place, or one circumstance to another, never seeming to get settled down into labor for the Lord. They just never seem to find that everything comes together for them, but there is always just that one little matter that is not perfect in their estimation, and they quickly use this as an extenuating circumstance and fall back. And all the while, they rationalize that "I would have completed the job, IF ..." but they never do. And it's ALWAYS someone else's fault that things "just didn't work out.. But I really meant to do it, and I would have, EXCEPT ..."
    How sad. And on and on it goes, from one "I wanted to, BUT ... ", to another.
    This reflects total lack of COMMITMENT. This is clear indication that where there is no commitment, they will always be the supposed options that can be exercised, and all the while, never facing the reality as to the source of the failure, but always ready to place the blame for the failure on someone else. No commitment is such a common thing among the people, and seemingly, becomes a way of life. It becomes habitual for those who seek a "cop-out" to always move from one no commitment situation to another, and NOTHING ever gets finished. How many lives are seen in this, or a similar biography?
    Let's bring this matter now to a specific. The Lord has commanded that parents teach their children the words and the ways of the Lord. "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4). This is a command! This is NOT optional! God has commanded, and His people are responsible to be totally COMMITTED to the obedience of God. Where is the option? Where is the extenuating circumstance that relieves fathers from doing what God has said is to be done?
    Remember, if I can walk away from it, I have acted with option. But, I can not walk away from the command of God. I must obey Him, or find myself in opposition to His clearly stated commandment.

(The Baptist Herald - January , 1995)

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