We tend to look at a Christian who is steadfast and serious about their Christian life as being an extraordinary person. But instead of extraordinary, this should be ordinary! Every Christian should be steadfast, every Christian should take a stand, and every Christian should hold fast to those things that have been committed to them. These should be ordinary characteristics that every born-again believer possesses.
In the last days in which we live the Bible tells us that men will waver and fall. They will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine”. The Bible tells us this several times. We live in such a time. Instead of being led by spiritual things, many are led by the desires of their flesh. Instead of being influenced by the Word of God, most are influenced by the world. And instead of living to please our Saviour, multitudes live their life in a pursuit of pleasing the flesh! But that doesn’t have to be the case and it shouldn’t be. God expects us to hold fast.
God’s Word is filled with examples of men and women who held fast during troubling times, even when their lives were on the line. John the Baptist is just one of many.
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus, And said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.” Matthew 14:1-12
John the Baptist did not possess anything extraordinary. He did not have anything special that every saved person doesn’t also possess. We all have the ability and potential to stand for our faith like he did … in fact, God expects it.
IT STARTS WITH COMMITMENT
“As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mark 1:2-8
When John arrived on the scene, no one had seen anything quite like him! There were some that mocked him and there were some that didn’t believe him. Nevertheless John knew that God had called him for the very special task of being the forerunner of Christ and it didn’t matter how much opposition he faced, he remained committed to his call!
Commitment is a characteristic that is quickly disappearing in people. If something doesn’t come easy, people often abandon whatever it is they are trying to do. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, only 32.9 % of students that enrolled in college graduated on time. In previous years, the United States had led all nations in this category. But now we are ranked 11th in the world, pointing directly to a lack of commitment.
This characteristic has carried over into every aspect of life. Husbands and wives are no longer committed to their marriage relationship. Employees are no longer committed to excel at their job. And even in our local churches we have seen a decline of believers who are committed to the cause of Christ!
“Involvement” and “Commitment” are not the same! Some become involved in the ministry of their local church, but when their involvement becomes work they quickly back away. Someone who is committed will continue in spite of what it may cost them! This should be a normal character trait found in every believer. If you want to make a difference become committed!
HAVE THE COURAGE TO STAND
There came a time in John’s life when he had to make a choice; would he stand at all costs? Or would he compromise if the price was too great? John had the courage to stand on God’s Word no matter who was standing in front of him and no matter what the cost. When Herod took Herodias, his brother’s wife as his own; John didn’t back down. “For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.” (Matthew 14:3,4)
If the same situation was to occur today most Christians would say, “It’s consensual, Herod and Herodias want to be together; who are we to stand in the way of love?” But adultery and fornication is still sin, no matter what we think! John knew it, and if Herod wanted to throw him in the prison for preaching against sin, so be it! If it cost him his life … so what! It takes courage to stand in front of the king and tell him it’s not lawful!
With each passing generation the line between good and evil has shifted. Many of our young people have never been taught what sin is. Their moral values are determined by television and a liberal education system. We must tell them what the Bible says and have the courage to stand by God’s Word when opposition comes.
If we will be committed to serving Christ and have the courage to stand, we can …
EXPECT TO BE COMMENDED BY CHRIST
John’s commitment and courage had resulted in his imprisonment. Our Lord’s response to this is found in Luke 7:28. “… Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist” There is no higher compliment than this. Christ didn’t compliment him because of his lineage, he commended him for the life he lived! He lived a committed, courageous, and uncompromising life. A life every Christian should strive to imitate.
Why aren’t there more Christians of John’s caliber? It’s not that no one can be … it’s because not many want to be. It takes commitment and courage, something that should be our ordinary and reasonable service.
If we remain steadfast, if we remain committed, if we are courageous in our faith, we will hear the commendation of Christ; “Well done thou good and faithful servant!”