This morning in my Bible reading I read Mark 10:41-44, the account of the widow who, in Jesus’ words, gave “everything she had.” Tomorrow we conclude our study of Surrender and as I prepare for our discussion I can’t help pondering what it means to give everything I have.
I think sometimes I look at the widow of Mark 10 and other believers who likewise have given all for the sake of the gospel and I think to myself that, why sure, of course I’d be willing, you know, if Jesus actually were to ask, but lucky for me He hasn’t and then I go about my business carefully protecting and hoarding that which I’m convinced He hasn’t asked of me.
The thing is, He has and He does. Not just of me but of all who would claim to follow Him. Oh, I don’t mean we are each of us to empty our bank accounts and write the church a big fat check. But perhaps I am. Consider:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt. 10:37-39)
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25)
Denying myself. Taking up the cross. Daily. Dying to myself. Losing my life to gain Him. See, that’s the kind of commitment Jesus demands. This is the kind of surrender that marks the true disciple of Christ: complete and total. Everything she had.
We sometimes view a particular struggle or burden as our given cross to bear. I think Jesus’ demand is far more radical than persevering through illness or loving a wayward child. The cross had one connotation to his listeners: death. Just as Paul claimed to be crucified with Christ so too must we die to all that is ours: our agenda, our rights, our dreams, our stuff, our reputation, our children, our homes, our very lives. We are to sacrifice it all, laying it before Him to do with as He pleases.
Seems harsh. It is. Seems difficult and costly. It is. But, like the merchant who sold all he had in order to gain the pearl of great price, we will find that the supreme value of the Treasure far outweighs any sacrifice made to acquire it. As we relinquish all to the good and sovereign King, our testimony becomes that of Paul’s:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in him…” (Phil. 3:7-8)
Is Jesus the great Treasure of your life? Have you relinquished all in glad surrender before Him? Can He say of you as He said of the widow: she gave everything she had? Do you know the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus? Do you count all else as rubbish so that you may gain Christ?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom. 12:1)
How I long for my testimony to be: she gave everything she had. A living sacrifice offered to my God in view of the glorious grace and abundant mercies He poured out on my behalf at the cross of Christ.
I surrender all. All to Him I owe.