“Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” These are the words of a young man who came to Jesus in Luke 18:18-30. On the surface it is an admirable question, but Jesus knew the man’s heart. Like this man, we sometimes come to Jesus with a list of things in our minds that we are willing to accept or not accept, do or not do. As with this man, Jesus will poke those things that we are tempted not to accept or not do to see if we will surrender everything to Him, or, like the man in the story, go away from Him.
Unconditional surrender to God means no prearranged, no predetermined conditions – not even one thing we are unwilling to do or quit doing. Admittedly, this isn’t easy. So, here are a few things that can help…
- This surrender is to God – not to man. When we question surrendering to God we’re forgetting that He is God, our All-Powerful and All-Wise Creator, our Loving Redeemer and Savior. We are not surrendering to men, to churches, or leaders. We present our lives and bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (Ro 12:1). Paul goes on to write that this total surrender and sacrifice is “your reasonable service” (NKJV) or “your spiritual worship” (ESV) and “your true and proper worship” (NIV). Surrendering to God is how we properly serve and worship God because He is worthy and deserving of it.
- This surrender is a sacrifice – not a negotiation. The sacrifice is “holy, acceptable to God” (Ro 12:1). We come to God, making sacrifices that He determines and accepts, not simply what we want to give. We come to God on His terms, not our own. We do what is acceptable to Him, whether we like it or not. We listen to Him, no matter what the cost or how many other people are doing it. And when it costs us something that is difficult or even painful for us to pay, we remember that God is worthy and deserving of it.
- This surrender is continuous – not a one-time event. The sacrifice is a “living sacrifice” (Ro 12:1). It means that it not only touches our lives, but we actually live it. Our lives are changed because we have surrendered to the will of God. It is no longer our will – our wants, desires, plans, likes – that guides and forms our lives both now and in the future. And it’s not just when we are worshipping with the church or reading our Bibles. Our lives are now God’s 24/7 because God is worthy and deserving of it.
- This surrender is of self – not just of things. Sacrifice can seem painful when we don’t want to do it, but can be done willingly, even happily, when we love and respect the one we sacrifice for. When we give ourselves to God, our things come with us. When He requires sacrifice of things we know those things are His anyway – in a sense, we have already given them to Him! We totally belong to God because He is worthy and deserving of me, all I have, and so much more!