What does it mean to be devoted to something or someone? We talk about devotion a lot in a variety of contexts, from devoted sports fans to devoted spouses. In each case, it refers to an exceptional dedication. When Abraham Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, spoke of taking “increased devotion” to the cause that those being remembered that day “gave their last full measure of devotion,” he meant that those who had died had been dedicated to the point of giving their life for the cause, and that those left should become more dedicated to what was being done. The last full measure of devotion was the highest commitment that could be made.
The biblical idea of devotion carries with it the concept of being dedicated or set apart. We see this in the taking of Jericho by the Israelites. Joshua told the people that “the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction” (Josh 6.17). What did this mean? While the silver, gold, bronze and iron were to be taken to the treasury of the Lord (6.18), everything else was to be destroyed. Further, the city itself was never to be rebuilt (6.26). So serious was this devotion that when someone (Achan) took some of the things from the city for himself, it brought defeat for Israel until he was exposed and his sin was dealt with (resulting in his death). When the city of Jericho was rebuilt in the time of Ahab, true to Joshua’s warning the builder’s firstborn and youngest died during its construction.
Devoting something to the Lord, even voluntarily, was a serious thing under the law of Moses. Leviticus 27 lays out the regulations concerting voluntary devotions and vows. Some devotions could not be taken back at all, such as an animal that may be offered as an offering to the Lord. But other things that could be redeemed had to be redeemed with a fifth added to the value of what was originally dedicated.
So what does that mean for Christians? Our choice to follow Christ is a choice to be devoted to Christ. That means we are dedicated to Him and Him only. It is not something to be done lightly. Becoming a Christian is more than just becoming a member of some organization and participating in a few events. It’s more than just gathering “whenever the doors are open” and putting some money in a collection plate on Sunday. It means that every hour of every day is given to Him. Every dollar we spend is spent with a view toward what is pleasing to Him. All of our power is placed under His control. Being devoted to Christ means that nothing is held back from Him.
Have you set yourself apart fully for Christ, or is there some portion that you’ve held back for yourself? Let us all resolve this year to be totally devoted to Christ.