ONESIPHORUS: A CASE STUDY
2 Timothy 1:16-18
There’s a spurious story about Tom Osborne when he was coach of my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers. He came out before a game to check out the stands. One empty seat. Coach went up to investigate. An elderly woman dressed in black sitting next to the empty seat. “Do you know whose seat this is?” Woman: “it’s my husband’s, but he died.” Coach: ‘I’m so sorry, but why didn’t you invite a relative to come with you?’ Woman: ‘Oh, they’re all at the funeral.’
The collapse of commitment is seen everywhere in culture.
- workers do as little as possible; leave early daily.
- Pastoral tenures are alarmingly short.
- Most Christians have abandoned reading the Bible.
- Gail Sheehy in Passages: average marriage = 7 yrs.
- Sign in NYC jewelry store: ‘Wedding rings for rent.’
Webster’s definition: ‘to pledge or bind oneself to a certain course of action.’ My definition: ‘The quality of tenaciously pursuing to the very end, with heart and soul, what you have pledged to pursue.’
There’s a case study in commitment tucked away in Paul’s last letter.
COMMITMENT DEMANDS CONSISTENCY. v. 16
‘he often refreshed me’
Consistency is the ultimate act of adulthood. When things don’t go our way, we don’t pick up our marbles and go home. We play again. EXAMPLE: Daniel Conn @ Davis College
True commitment usually requires you to give more than you get. Still, commitment knows no bounds of greatness or smallness. It rises in people of true character.
The attitude of commitment is an attitude of selfless humility. Maxine Hancock in Love, Honor and Be Free tells of a young woman who sat beside her on a plane who was the epitome of the successful business-woman of the 21st C. She was educated, in charge of herself, newly divorced. When the woman discovered Maxine combined family commit-ments with a writing career she asked how she did it. Maxine: “The secret was in a few non-negotiable commitments. First, I’m committed to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the authority of His Word over my life. Second, I’m commit-ted to my husband and family – ‘my thing’ must in no way hinder their full development. Within those commitments I have freedom in which I order my priorities.’ When woman asked: ‘You mean you put commitment to others ahead of commitment to yourself?’ Maxine said “Yes.”
COMMITMENT DEMANDS INITIATIVE. v. 17
‘he searched for me.’
Commitment always starts with the subject, not the object.
- If the object is worthy of our commitment, it will still be worthy whether we are committed to it or not.
- Our spouse, our church, our country, our family.
- Commitment begins when we—the subject—decide to be commited to the object—family, church, spouse.
For you old timers: Brooklyn was worthy of the Dodgers, but they left for the glamour of the Hollywood Hills anyway.
COMMITMENT DEMANDS DETERMINATION. v. 17
‘he searched hard for me.’
Determination: “The Grit and guts to stick it out.”
EXAMPLE: Selling my meal tickets @ University of Strasbourg
Isaiah said: “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” That’s Determination.
Of Jesus it was said, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” That’s Determination.
Paul was counseled not to go to Jerusalem, but he replied, “I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” That’s Determination.
Determination: “The Grit and guts to stick it out.”
Eugene Ormandy once dislocated his shoulder directing the Philadelphia symphony. No excuses with determination.
Excuses the Metropolitan Insurance Company received from its auto policyholders after an accident:
“An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.”
“The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”
“The pedestrian had no idea which way to go, so I ran over him.”
“I pulled away from the curb, glanced at my mother-in-law and head over the embankment.”
COMMITMENT DEMANDS PERSISTENCE. v. 17
‘he searched hard for me until he found me.’
The purpose of commitment is not just to run the race, but to complete the race. That requires persistence.
Ty Cobb: thrown out more trying to steal base than any other
Babe Ruth: struck out more times than any other
Hank Aaron: struck out more than 99% of all other ballplayers
Enrico Caruso: voice cracked so much teach told him to quit
In his insightful book Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom says:
‘Cripple him, and you have Sir Walter Scott.
Lock him in a prison cell and you have John Bunyan.
Bury him snow at Valley Forge and you have George Washington
Raise him in abject poverty and you have Abraham Lincoln.
Deafen him and you have Ludwig von Beethoven.
Call him a slow learner and write him off as uneducable and you have Albert Einstein.
2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought, finished, kept the faith.”
Commitment means you don’t quit.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
When you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit —
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a person turns about
When they might have won had they stuck it out.
So don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When they might have captured the victor’s cup;
And they learned too late when the night came down,
How close they were to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near . . . when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst, that you must not quit.