4-Minute Sermons

DETERMINATION – A Four-Minute Sermon

By Dr. Paul Toms
Senor Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church – Boston, MA

August 1, 2003

Determination Seen in the Lives of People

William Lloyd Garrison, the famous English Abolitionist, gave many impassioned speeches on this topic, one of which was in Park Street Church in Boston. On one occasion he said about his topic: “On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. No! No! Tell a man, whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from great danger; tell a mother to gradually extricate her baby from the fire into which it has fallen—but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest-I will not equivocate-I will not excuse-I will not retreat a single inch. AND I WILL BE HEARD”. Now that’s determination.

Our Character Qualities’ material on this matter says, “determination is purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of opposition.” Certainly, Christians are to be people of determination. The Bible presents this quality as something to be practiced. This is seen in the story of Naomi and Ruth in the Old Testament. Ruth makes a strong speech in which she says, “Don’t urge me to leave–where you go I will go; where you stay I will stay.” And when Naomi, “realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her” (Ruth: 1-18). There are some other good passages that exhibit this quality and I would urge you to look at them.(2 Sam. 17:14; 2 Chron. 25:16; Prov. 16:9; Acts 17:26—All of these verses illustrate that God is determined. And he expects us to show this characteristic.

We will skip over a most interesting theological discussion, material of which can be found in books and articles. Theologians like to speak and write about Freedom, Free Will, and Determinism. B.F. Skinner, who taught at Harvard for many years, when writing about human behavior, said it was all determined. Unfortunately, he did not mean it could be traced to the power and sovereignty of God.

We often tell people, “Please make up your mind.” James warns us of this kind of instability. He says, “…a man of two minds, undecided in every step he takes”(Weymouth), or, “He’s halfhearted, wavering in everything he does” (Beck) (James 1:8.). And again, “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind”(James 1:6).

Focused and determined—these are needed qualities for us all. During the early 1920’s, English explorer George Mallory dreamed of conquering Mount Everest. He organized an expedition, but it failed. A second attempt also failed. A third expedition, carefully prepared, was the most tragic of all. An avalanche killed Mallory and most of his team back in England. Friends invited the survivors to a banquet honoring the lost team. At its close, a surviving team member stood and looked at the pictures of Mallory and the slain comrades. Then, in tears he turned to face a huge picture of Mount Everest behind the banquet table. “Mount Everest,” he said, “you defeated us once, you defeated us twice, you defeated us three times. But we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger, and we can!”
(MEN OF INTEGRITY, Sep-Oct 2002)

The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore we do not lose heart.” (2 Cor. 4:16). Here is the standard. Here is the call for focus and concentration on “sticking with it.” And like Paul, “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18).

At a recent National Prayer Breakfast, National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice, said, “We are living through a time of testing and consequence-and praying that our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us….it is a privilege to struggle for what is right and true.” This requires determination, whether in national life, or especially in the Christian life. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength”(Phil. 4:13).



This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.