The dictionary meaning of partial is, incomplete or not totally.  In the secular world partial can reasonably be used in some situations but would be ludicrous in others.  One can make partial payments on cars, houses and other big ticket items.  One can be a partial (part-time) worker, policeman, fireman, teacher, etc, etc.  To expect to buy a partial puppy from a partial pet store, pay a partial price for a partial kite, to swear to tell the partial truth in a court of law are all fairly ridiculous.  However, some people try to partially love, honor and obey their wedding vows.  Others join organizations and pay dues and are seldom ever seen again.  It also seems that some senators and representatives are partial law-makers when a vote is needed.  The secular world would probably use terms such as, “in name only” or  “pays lip-service” to describe such behavior.  Many organizations such as military, business, education and medical have a saying which seem to fit well here, “Either be all in, or don’t be in at all.”

In our Christian walk much the same logic applies.  Some people want to make a partial commitment by attending worship services 2 or 3 times a year while dropping a dollar in the offering plate.  One wonders if this partial approach applies also to:  partial repentance, partial forgiveness, partial obedience, partial service and partial love?  Only God can truly know the motivation and sincerity of the heart and Christians are told to “…stop passing judgment on one another…” because, “…each of us will give an account of himself to God…” (Rom 14:12-13)

Some may argue that partial commitment is better than none and better than being hostile to the cause of Christ.  Before using that argument, shouldn’t we all seek out what Jesus said about this very subject?  He said to the church in Laodicea “…I know your deeds, that you are neither cold or hot…” “So, because you are lukewarm….I am about to spit you out of my mouth…” (Rev 3:15-16)  Jesus also said when talking about false prophets, “By their fruits you will recognize them…” (Mt 7:16-20)  Surely this could also apply to partial Christians.  They will be judged by the master fruit inspector, but other Christians can recognize them and encourage them to mature in their faith.

—Jim Bailey