I often hear the word “surrender” used amongst Christians. We say that we need to surrender all to Christ. But what does this truly mean? The definition of the word, as it appears in scripture is: “to give into the hands (of another); to give over into (one’s) power or use.” So, to be surrendered to God means that we place ourselves into His hands or we give ourselves over into His power or use. This is not just on occasion; we must be totally surrendered to Him. This means that in every aspect of our lives, we surrender to Him. This is more difficult than simply singing “I Surrender All” on Sunday mornings. This takes an act of constant surrender in every situation.
The greatest example of surrender comes from Jesus Christ Himself: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 ESV). Christ prayed that if there was any way to get out of the suffering that He knew was coming, that’s what He wanted, however, He was surrendered to the will of His Father. That is exactly how we need to be. Often times, we are willing to surrender ourselves to the will of God, if that will is what we already want. But that’s not what He is asking of us. He wants us to surrender ourselves to His will even when He is asking us to do something we don’t want.
“Then he said to the crowd, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” (Luke 9:23-24 NLT). Christ made it crystal clear that:
- Surrender is a daily decision.
- Surrender is burden we must bear (our cross)
- Surrender could even be a life or death decision
I have heard people say that there are certain things they can’t give up. They would miss it too much. I have found that when I give up certain things to God, my desire changes. I used to watch a lot of TV. I started realizing that many TV shows today use a lot of foul language. In addition, many shows depict promiscuity, fornication, and adultery. I knew these things were wrong, and felt I should stop watching it. I argued, “It’s just entertainment.” However, I knew that type of entertainment was not beneficial to me as a Christian. I was afraid that I would miss the entertainment too much. I made the decision to cut that out of my life. As a result, I watch very little TV (mostly the news and sports). I found that I have very little desire to even turn on the TV, and I don’t miss my shows at all. I am not saying that anyone should give up TV, or that Christians do not watch TV. What I am saying is that everyone needs to surrender everything in their lives to God. If there is something you want to do, you have to ask, “Does this align with God’s will for my life?” “How does this affect me in following God’s will?”
There are 2 things in particular that we must surrender:
- Our virtues
- Our vices
Let me start with the easy one, our vices. We all know that our “bad qualities” need to be surrendered to God. I have a really bad temper. If you have ever seen me explode, then you would agree. I can be the nicest guy, but then, I get ticked off. I try to hold it in, but finally, the last straw falls and the Todd monster appears. The problem lies within the statement “I try to hold it in.” Surrender does not involve holding on to anything. Instead of holding it in, I need to surrender it to God. I cannot solve or control my temper. Only God can. My problem is that I try to do it on my own. I never will. This is the same for whatever vices are connected to each of you. You cannot hold on to it, you must surrender all things to Christ.
Now for the hard one, our virtues. Anything we have in our lives that seems good must be surrendered to God. This does not mean that we cannot do anything, but we must be willing to use our gifts and talents for the Lord. For example, perhaps you are a talented musician. You need to surrender that to the Lord, and allow Him to be in control of how you use your talent. Sometimes God releases us in our talents to see what we can do. Other times, He holds us back. We just have to listen to Him to see which direction to go. The best example I see of this is found in Acts 16: “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.” (v. 6 ESV). This must have been difficult for Paul, not preaching. 1 Cor. 9:16 records his words, “for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (NAS). However, God had a plan for Paul that did not include going into Asia.
The best verse I found that captures all the meaning of surrender is: “Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways.” (Prov. 23:26 NAS). Give your heart to the Lord, and He will show you His will.