I've just come back from Communion at church. There were two lessons, the first about Ananias and Saphira, and the second about the Widow’s Mite. The vicar talked during the sermon about the first lesson and the consequences of lying to God. What I found more interesting was the theme running through both stories, as I saw it.
To my mind, what they were both about was commitment.
Ananias and Saphira sold land and presented half the money to the apostles, while pretending that it was the total amount. This lie led to their deaths at the hands of God. If they had been honest and said that that was only half the amount, it would have been accepted and they would have been honoured. By pretending that it was the whole amount, they were trying to get the maximum benefit (praise from the rest of the congregation) with the minimum outlay. They refused to commit themselves totally to their religion, but pretended that they were. In other words, they were hypocrites.
In the second lesson, the widow put her last penny, everything she had, in the collection box. She committed herself completely.
I know that I haven't made the commitment that I should to my self-development and personal growth, but at least I'm honest enough to admit that I haven’t. I've made plenty of excuses in the last few months: not having enough money to buy the books and courses I wanted; looking after my ageing parents; helping during my father's final illness; looking after my mother since his death. But that's all they are. Excuses.
If we truly want to achieve our goals and realise our dreams, we have to commit to that achievement and realisation. Half-hearted efforts will only ever get us halfway there, if we're lucky. We can’t say to ourselves “I’ll put in just enough effort to get there, I think.” It’s got to be all or nothing, and we have to admit to ourselves that that’s the precise situation: all or nothing.
In our self-development books we often discuss commitment and persistence, but in reality they're the same thing. If we’re fully committed to our goals, then we will automatically have the persistence necessary to achieve them.
Of course, we have to be sure that these goals and dreams are what we really want. Otherwise, we may drive ourselves nuts, and end up being committed in a different way…