In his 1695 play, “Canterbury Guests,” writer Edward Ravenscroft used this phrase.
Ever since that time, many writers (especially British) have used the adage. In fact, Charles Dickens used these words in “Nicholas Nickleby,” “Oliver Twist,” and “The Old Curiosity Shop.”
Have you guessed the adage yet?
All but vanished from usage, the expression taught commitment. One shouldn’t undertake anything half-heartedly.
In 2016, American composer Henry Threadgill won a Pulitzer Prize in Music for his album with the name of . . . ready for this? In for a Penny, In for a Pound.
What’s so fascinating about this phrase?
It’s Biblical origins, of course! Of the many Bible verses that have to do with commitment, here’s one of my favorites:
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62, NKJV
As they say, context is key.
In the agricultural area in which Jesus was teaching, farmers understood this statement well. Looking backward while moving forward does not make for plowing straight rows. Fewer crops due to poor land use means less harvest.
On the face of it, the request from the young man (to go bury his father) seems reasonable, compassionate even. But Jesus knew his heart. He knows our hearts, too. We are not fully committed to Him when we choose to look or go back. Leave. Move in a different direction. We’re either going forward with Him, our hand in His, or we’re going our own way.
Two words that have taken the place of commitment these days are “all in.” Jesus said He would rather we were all in than lukewarm. His command is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.
If we’ve had difficulty with our harvest lately, maybe it’s time to recommit our hands to the plow. No looking back. Just straight rows ahead.
We’re not only in for a penny or a pound. We’re plowing and planting for eternity.
By author eMarie
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