Is Dedication No Longer Necessary?
By Grant Phillips
The evangelist Henry Varley said to Dwight L. Moody in 1872, “Moody, the world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.” Dwight L. Moody, and many other great men and women of God through the years, dedicated themselves to God in such a way that multitudes have come to Christ through the power of our great God.
Hundreds of names could be mentioned from Bible times to the present who have demonstrated similar dedication to God, but none has succeeded as “fully and wholly” as our Lord Jesus Christ. So from that standpoint, I would agree with Mr. Varley.
Dedication to God is putting self aside and God first. The question before us is, “How dedicated to God am I?”
I try to see my own failures and weaknesses in all the articles I write, but this one especially, needs to be written in sackcloth and ashes while upon my knees with head bowed. Since that would make it rather difficult to type, I am, instead, seated, with my head up and eyes open. I have also forgone the ashes, since they would create a mess in the floor and so much for the sackcloth too. I hope you know I’m being facetious for a reason. It is our repentant heart that should be knelt before God in sackcloth and ashes seeking His will. Is His will my will? It should be, but is it?
Why are some people more successful in their trade or hobby than others? Could it be personal talent? Yes it could, but something else really stands out, and that is their dedication to their goal. They are committed to their goal at all costs. In other words, they have set aside their will and submitted themselves wholly to the work required to accomplish their goal. That is total commitment. Those who are dedicated to the task at hand eventually succeed. Whether your desire is toward a sporting event, musical path, political aim, business, or anything else, to be successful, you must be dedicated to it.
So now we’re thinking, “I really must be busier for Christ. I’m just not busy enough. I must volunteer more. I must study harder. I must pray longer. I must witness to more people.” What’s wrong with this? All of these things are good. The problem is that we may be depending upon our efforts and what we think should be done. We may be working hard, but not necessarily in God’s will. Therefore, we are not consecrated, or dedicated, to His will.
I hate to use the following phrase since I heard it so much growing up, but here goes. “Back in my day” it was fairly common for Christians to re-dedicate their lives. That doesn’t mean they always knew what dedication is, but they at least were on the right track. They knew their Christian life was not totally dedicated to the will of God, and they wanted to make it right with Him. Some demonstrated a submissive change to God’s will in their lives. Some reverted to their old habits. I also witnessed others re-dedicating themselves over and over. Is that a sign of failure? It isn’t failure to recognize our commitment to God has slipped and we need to come to Him anew. Is that not what 1 John 1:9 is all about?
Dedication to God is not what we do. It is where our heart is. What we do may or may not show our dedication to Him. If we are dedicated, or consecrated, we are set apart for His will. Are we in His will? If so, are we doing His will? Our dedication must go beyond our loyalty. It must extend to our obedience.
Some may ask, “Is it His will for me to witness to others about Jesus?” That is a foolish question. It is His will that every Christian witness to others about His Son.
Others may ask, “Is he calling me to pastor a church?” That is a sensible question, because He does not call every Christian to the pastorate. It deserves a correct answer, and the correct answer can only be obtained from God to the one asking the question.
What consumes my time? What consumes my thoughts? Perhaps that is how we need to start to recognize where our heart is; i.e. our point of total consecration. Maybe that will show me to what or to whom I am dedicated.
I have noticed in my lifetime that the world has gotten colder, much colder. By that I mean most people seem to care more about themselves than the other person. If that is true, it is not of God. Even an alarming number of so-called Christians seem to emit this attitude of selfishness. There is no way a Christian can be consecrated to God and be a selfish person at the same time. The two simply cannot co-exist.
I thank God, and I know you do too, that He has been so totally dedicated to providing us a way back to Him from the “pickle” we have gotten ourselves into. He saves those who come to Him by believing in His Son Jesus. Our Lord committed the ultimate selfless act, the sacrifice of Himself so we who come to Him may have eternal life.
As horrifying as dying on a Roman cross would be, it was even worse for Jesus to be separated from the Father during this time. We can’t understand that. Even so, Jesus’ dedication to providing those who come to Him with eternal life stood fast, but it still wasn’t easy.
“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
When it comes to our prayers, our ambitions, our goals, our interests, our opportunities, our commitment, our all, can we say, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” and mean it?
Maybe there is a Christian reading this article who will allow God to show them what He can do with nothing. Yes, nothing. God delights in taking a weak vessel and turning it into something of beauty, by His strength. The Apostle Paul said:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
True dedication is being weak in self but strong in Christ. That spells victory.