It has been said that “Christianity is one place where surrender bring victory.” Usually surrender is synonymous with defeat, and is associated with weakness. Though that may often be true, I believe this thought expresses an important Biblical message – one that everyone would do well to learn!
All people, whether they acknowledge it or not, are subject to surrendering to God. Now that is somewhat obvious to Christians because they have already done so, simply in becoming a Christian. But I am afraid that most people, even Christians at times, do not fully grasp the meaning of surrendering to God. This is really what James was speaking of in James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God…”, and Peter as well in I Peter 5:6 – “Therefore humble yourselves under the might hand of God… .” Surrendering to God means that no matter what God says, we MUST obey Him, whether we understand why or not. If we have faith, surrender is no problem, but without faith, it is impossible. Also, our surrender to God is unconditional – He demands complete surrender, because partial surrender is unsatisfactory. Even a “99% rate of surrender” is still not enough – it must be 100%! Remember what Paul said in Colossians 3:3 – “For you have died, and your life is hidden with God in Christ.”
In surrendering to God, we not only submit ourselves to Him, but many times it means submitting to other people as well. Now of course we have to realize that we cannot always surrender to the will of other people – Peter made this clear in Acts 5:29 (“…for we must obey God rather than men”). When man’s will collides with God’s, naturally God’s will must take precedence. Surrendering to other people refers to those times when my will collides with yours. Look at the attitude Jesus expresses in Matthew 5:38-42. He did not say “now you have rights – don’t take anything from anybody!” There in the “Sermon on the Mount”, He is basically saying,”surrender to your fellow man.” Again, remember circumstances will dictate when we can or cannot do this. Christians are not supposed to be easy targets to run down, nor should they be the ones who must always “get their way” either! The conflicts to which I am referring are not over matters of Biblical truth (a Christian should never compromise on the truth of God’s word), but rather this primarily refers to personal disputes, or matters of opinion. Notice what Paul says in First Corinthians 6:7 when confronting a particular problem at the church in Corinth: Christians bringing other Christians to court, suing each other. Paul says “why not take the loss yourself, instead of forcing it on another?” That is a totally radical idea in our society, is it not, in the age of suing other people at the drop of a hat, of always trying to find someone else to blame for my misfortune? The principle Paul expresses here seems to apply in many situations, especially today. Whenever your will conflicts with someone else’s, why not simply give in? Whether it be with your spouse, children, parents, in-laws, boss, etc. – we cannot always get our way. In fact, Christians should be least concerned about getting “their” way! In First
Peter 5:5, Peter said, “…all of you be submissive to another, and be clothed with humility…”, and notice what Paul said in Philippians 2:3-4, “…look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” We all need to better the learn the lesson of humility, even in the “little” things. You want to watch the football game, your spouse wants to watch a movie – why not watch the movie? Someone needs to pull onto the street in front of you – why not let him? We could come up with dozens of examples for surrendering – many much more important than these trite ones cited.
Finally, why do this? “I understand surrender to God, but why to other people as well?” First, it is for the very same reason as Paul states in First Corinthians 9:19-23 and 10:32-33. This even applies to our relationshi with fellow Christians, as shown in Romans 14:21. In dealing with other people this way, in an attitude of surrender, we show others the way of Christ – we direct people’s attention away from ourselves, and toward God! Secondly, the way we treat our fellow person, Christians especially, is a direct reflection of our attitude toward God – see First John 4:20 and Matthew 25:40,45. We cannot say we love God without treating each other with love. It is totally inconsistent to say “I love God”, while at the same time always forcing our way on other people, always stirring up conflict, or fuming over not getting our way. May we all strive to develop a more “surrendering” attitude. Remember the old church hymn “I Surrender All to Jesus”? It goes on to state “…all to Him I freely give…” – no matter to whom we are surrendering, it is for Christ’s sake!