Christ First! Last! and Always!

by Jefferson David Tant

I beseech you … brethren … to present your bodies a living sacrifice … And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). We all know the words. Do we really know what they mean?

“All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me Jesus, Take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
I surrender all …
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all” (J. W. Van de Venter).

We know the words, but do we sing them from the heart, or just from the lips?

We must all agree that many of God’s people are sorely lacking in real spiritual life. There is no zeal. There is no fire. The salt has lost its savor. The light has grown dim. Perhaps we need to confront ourselves soberly with a tough question: “Do I put Christ first in my life by complete surrender and commitment to Him?” Right now, jot down the things in life that are most important to you. Be perfectly honest — don’t fudge. Be sure to include job, family, personal comfort, social relationships, possessions, Christ, etc.

If Christ is not honestly at the head of the list, ask, “Would I be willing to put Christ first — ahead of my social life?” Sometimes when we might have the opportunity to serve Christ, whether it be attending mid-week Bible study, or visiting the sick, etc., we are excused because “This is my night to bowl,” or “Our company stayed too late…”

Did you take a job knowing you would be unable to participate in worship assemblies and Bible studies regularly? Be really frank with yourself. Is Christ first? Have you put absolute faith and trust in His promise of Matthew 6:33?

Did you miss a gospel meeting in order to see your son play in the baseball game? The excuse: “This creates a bond between me and my son, and will help me lead him in the way of Christ.” But which came first — Christ or family? Can we actually put Christ first — ahead of them? Why should God ask such an outlandish thing? Yet, we recall Jesus saying, “He that loveth father or mother …son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:33)

Sure, the problem is difficult. If you don’t believe it, try it yourself. The same test was put to Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham became the “father of the faithful” when he answered the question in God’s favor. The rich young ruler (Matthew 19) “went away sorrowful” because he answered the question in what he thought was his own favor. Like the ruler, we have allowed our material prosperity and our environment to bind, gag, and deliver us to the world, the flesh, and Satan.

What a joy of release when we can finally say, “I surrender all.” Then will we have presented our bodies a “living sacrifice unto God.” Then will we fully realize that we are not our own, “for ye were bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Then the world will take knowledge of us, that we have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13). Then will the Lord be Alpha and Omega — forever!

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