Earlier this year, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic faced a crisis point in his career. The much-sought-after “Superman of the NBA” was facing the trade deadline and had the opportunity to leave the underachieving Magic and go to a contender. For days leading up to the trade deadline, all the talk on sports TV and radio was about where Howard would end up. Where would he go, and what team would instantly become fearsome because of the presence of one of the NBA’s best big men? Then Howard surprised many of the so-called experts by committing himself to stay in Orlando! He stayed in order to be part of bringing success to Orlando, and he expressed that by setting aside self-advancement in order to refresh his commitment to the cause of rebuilding the Magic franchise.
In a sense, that’s a really good example of commitment. It is setting aside personal goals or personal advancement for a higher cause. A greater cause. Paul spoke of this kind of commitment to the Roman believers without ever even using the word commitment:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).
The higher cause? I would suggest Paul points us to the higher cause of “the mercies of God” described in the chapters preceding Romans 12. How great a cause is this? How worthy is it of our highest devotion and most serious commitment? So much so that Paul calls us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. In fact, Paul says that this is the only reasonable thing to do! God’s provision of merciful rescue and forgiveness to us calls us to give our all to Him, just as Jesus on the cross gave His all for us. Hymn writer Isaac Watts captured this level of commitment well when he wrote:
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
That is a commitment worthy of the love of Christ.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain