Unconditional Surrender

Gary Henry

“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:5).

To seek God sincerely is to give ourselves to him completely. The good things that come from life in God come to those who yield themselves to Him entirely. If we hold back parts of our hearts or our lives from His benevolence, we will miss the unique blessings that flow from commitment. If we sow sparingly, we will not reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6).

“A living sacrifice” is the expression Paul used to characterize the yielding of ourselves to God: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). In the Law of Moses, animals that were sacrificed to God had to be slain. It was not possible for the worshiper to retain the living animal for himself and still give a part of it to the Lord. The very life of the animal itself had to be given. Corresponding to those sacrifices, our offering must be total. Although ours is a “living” sacrifice, the gift must be no less complete than if our bodies were to be slain. God deserves no less than our all, both inwardly and outwardly.

But the partial approach not only tries to give God less than He deserves, it involves us in great difficulty and frustration. Just as a timid soul can’t leap a large chasm by taking two medium-sized jumps, the requirements of our new life can’t be met by the half-hearted efforts of our old mind. If we try to hang on to all that we think is “ours” and give God only enough of our outward behavior to get us to heaven, we are attempting the impossible. The old self will never be happy having to give up parts of itself to God. Since it never relinquishes its own desires except when forced to do so, the old self will never find Jesus’ yoke “easy” and His burden “light”” (Matthew 11:30). So the old self must die and a new self must come to life. We must be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). When that happens, we will then find that the Lord’s “commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

“The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says, ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good . . .’” (C. S. Lewis).