Give It Up!
by David Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 3, Jan. 16, 2009.
Toward the end of WWII, it was obvious to everyone that the Japanese empire was on its last legs. It was only a matter of time before the Japanese would be beaten. But, with a strict code of honor and battle, most Japanese were prepared to fight to the death rather than surrender. Their values would not let them entertain the idea of giving up without a fight. According to some historians, the Americans planning the invasion of the Japanese homelands predicted a million American casualties. Surrender was not an option for most Japanese of that era.
Before we shake our heads in disgust at people who won't give up, maybe we should look at ourselves. It is hard for any of us to admit we are wrong. It is hard to admit that there are battles we cannot win. It is humbling, and for some; shameful to face the fact that they haven't got all the answers. Truthfully, this is why many people don't want to become Christians. They know that if they come to God through Jesus they have to give up, surrender and let God rule. But there are good reasons to give it up.
Look at what Peter says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 5:6-11). There are several reasons for you to surrender. And, they all help you live a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.
Submission Relieves Anxiety
Peter tells us that if we humble ourselves under God's mighty hand, He will take charge and take care of us. When He takes over, we can cast all our worries on Him, letting Him tend to the harsh realities of life.
We must admit we live in a stressful era. We are often stressed by jobs that seem to demand more and more of us. We are stressed to keep up with the never ending advances in technology, from computers to digital recorders to cell phones. Trying to stay ahead of the learning curve is hard. We are often stressed by the demands of raising a family, with little league, school events, PTA and so many other things pushing us to get it all done and done well. If we are getting older, we may face the anxiety of deteriorating health, or the challenge of having enough to live on when we retire. Let's face it, we have countless sources of anxiety in our culture.
That is why you need to give up and surrender to God. When you turn your troubles over to the Lord, He will take care of things in ways you cannot. As God, He knows the end results of all these stresses. He knows what you need and what those around you need. When He takes over, He can act as God and make the best of choices for everyone. You can let go of your worries and let Him resolve the problems of the world, including your problems.
Imagine facing a difficult task at work, when, suddenly, a renowned expert shows up and offers to do the project for you. Wouldn't it be wonderful to turn over the job to the expert, and sit back and relax knowing it would be done better than you could every do it. That is what God offers you. He will take your worries and cares and make them His own. You can relax, if you will surrender all to Him.
Submission Keeps You Safe
Peter reminds us that we have an enemy out there who is seeking to harm us. He tells us the devil is active in our world, trying to create hardships and challenges for us. Like a lion, Satan is looking to pounce on you and create heartache in your life.
Again, we must admit that we live in an uncertain time. At any moment we could be the victim of a terrorist attack. Or, we could be caught in a school or church shooting. Even the malls are not completely safe anymore. Even more, we can face hardships with foreclosure or lost jobs. There are countless risks that can give us trouble at any given time.
That is why it is good to humble ourselves before the Lord. First, He is bigger than Satan. In every contest between God and the Devil, the loser is always the Devil. So, when you turn your life over to God, you are putting your future in the hands of a guaranteed winner.
Second, God can protect you from the influence and consequences of Satan's attacks. Notice, Peter doesn't promise that you will not suffer or face hardships. You will suffer if you surrender to the Lord. Satan will redouble his efforts to harm you or seduce you. But God promises that whatever suffering you experience in this life will be more than offset by the glory He will give you in the next life. You need to surrender to God so you can live life unafraid, confident and calm, even in the face of uncertain times.
Submission Keeps You Going
As we just saw, life is full of
threats. And, Peter pulls no punches in telling us we will face
suffering as a result of Satan's attacks. In the face of life's harsh
realities, some people give up and quit trying. They quit trying to succeed,
to have a better life, to be a better person. Some turn to drugs or alcohol
in an effort to escape the pain and tragedy of life. Others turn to multiple
sexual encounters, hoping to find enough pleasure in life to obscure the
hardships that come. Some even reach a point of despair that they take their own lives. So, in our culture, suicide is on the rise, especially among the middle aged.
But, if you humble yourself before God, you have a bigger reason to live and live successfully. When we can look beyond this life and its troubles, we can stand up under the strains of the world. Satan can do his worst, and God will ultimately turn his worst into our very best, giving us eternal glory in His presence when this life is over. As Paul puts it, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). When we turn over our lives and futures to God, we can then endure whatever life throws at us.
You see, you need to give it up. As long as you try to carry your own burdens, fix your own problems, handle your own challenges, you will come up short. You will face stress, anxiety, worry. You will have to face the worst things in life on your own. And, you will not have the stamina to endure and succeed. But, when you surrender to God you can let go of worries, you can face life's difficulties without crumbling, and you can endure all that life does to you, because you know you are on the winning side.
So, Give Glory To God
"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The whole point of life, my life, your life, every life, is to honor God. We are to come to Him, rely on Him and let Him govern in our lives. That is what life is really all about. Satan will try to mess up as much of that as he can. Our task is to turn to God and let Him care for us.
Our human pride often keeps us from surrendering to God. We think we can handle life on our own. We think we are smart enough, rich enough, hard working enough to force problems to disappear. The fact is, our purpose in life is to bring glory to God. That is what life is all about. God wants us to surrender so He can rule.
So, Give Glory By Giving Up
Many believers want to do great things for God. That is admirable, and I hope you do work for the Lord. But the fact is, the best way to give glory to God is by giving up. Every great servant of God, from the Old Testament, had to give it up in order for God to make them great. Moses spent four decades in the desert before God used him to lead Israel to freedom. Elijah spent three years by a stream and then in a Gentile widow's home before he was called to defeat the prophets and priests of Baal. Saul spent three years in Arabia before embarking on the great missionary work that was his life. Even Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, not eating, while Satan tempted Him. All great servants of the Lord have to be broken and have to surrender before God can use them.
So, how do you surrender? On the day of Pentecost thousands of Jews had come to Jerusalem, first for the Passover (during which Jesus was crucified), then for the feast of Pentecost. They were serious believers, active in their commitment to the law of Moses and to the God of Israel. Yet, they had allowed the Son of God to be crucified. Some of them had even called out for Jesus' death. Devout Jews, devout believers, yet they still bore the guilt of their sins. When Peter had convinced them of this guilt, they responded, "Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?'" (Acts 2:37). Even though they had tried to serve God faithfully, they realized they too needed to give up and surrender. So, they ask the question you need to ask, and then answer, "What does God want me to do?" or, "How do I surrender to God?" Listen carefully to Peter's charge to these Jews, and what it means for you. "And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit'" (Acts 2:38). These good people needed to surrender. Peter told them to admit their sin, repent and be immersed in the name of Jesus.
Too often people argue over baptism. But when we argue over God's demands, it just proves we still have not given up. We still think we know best and can do it our way. Only when you surrender can you be saved. And, when you truly give up, you will not quibble over God's commands. So, give it up. Stop trying to live life in your wisdom, your power. Surrender to Jesus today. Be baptized, have your sins washed away, and turn your worries over to God. He is waiting for you to give up.