Remember those definitions I’ve been using the past couple of weeks? Good. Now I don’t have to post them again. *Wink* So I don’t burn you out on them, I’ll just say that today’s think is on yet another part of the the definition of surrender – surrender of possessions.
Luke 18:22-23 ~ When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
The “rich young ruler” (don’t you just love all those boring titles?) sought eternal life, and Jesus told him he was almost there, but he needed to one more thing – totally surrender all of his possessions. To me it’s a very sad story. I always wondered whether or not he obeyed Jesus in the end. He was so close, but he couldn’t seem to swallow the idea of surrendering his stuff.
God wants us to totally surrender our hearts and lives to Him. In the process we have to surrender everything within them. If we didn’t, it would be like giving someone a house for them to do absolutely whatever they want with, and then turning around and saying “Oh, by the way, you can’t mess with any of my stuff that’s in there.” If you’re gonna sincerely give away the house, you either empty it yourself or you give away the stuff with the house.
Surrendering possessions has to go right along with surrendering heart and life, because they are a part of our life (and often are a part of our heart too). To hold them back from God is to say that they are more valuable to us than God Himself. And that…is kind of what idolatry is.
It’s one thing to talk about surrendering that all encompassing “possessions” – but how do you actually do it? And what all fits under the category of “possessions” anyways? In answer to the second question (because the first will be last and the last first 😉 ), I think that “possessions” includes anything that God has entrusted us with in this life – from money to media to electronics to talents to friends to time, etc.
At first glance, this can look really weird. How in the world do you surrender, say, your clothes to God? That sounds so silly, doesn’t it? After all, it’s just clothes, for Pete’s sake! But it’s not at all silly. I think that every aspect of our lives is important to God, and therefore it can’t be silly to give it back to Him. A good test to find out if something is surrendered to God is to ask a four-word question: “Who does this glorify?” Going with the clothes example, you would take that question and then ask some more – Does this outfit glorify my body, or honor God y being decent and modest? Are my stuffed-full dresser and closet a glory to God, or me? Would maybe wearing the same outfit a few times in the same month (after washing it) so that I can give away some of the excess clothes to someone who could use it be more glorifying to God? And so it goes with any other possession.
So, taking into account the (very brief and incomplete) list of possessions I put up there *points*, maybe some good questions would be these:
- Money – How am I spending it? Does the way I spend it honor God? Is there something He would want me to spend it on in addition and/or instead?
- Media – Do the books/movies/CDs/etc. on my shelves (or on my electronic devices) honor God? Are there some I shouldn’t be reading/watching/listening to? Are there some I should be reading/watching/listening to instead?
- Electronics – How do I use my electronics (phone, computer, music player, reader)? Does my usage of them glorify God? Does it glorify God to get a newer, fancier version if the one I already have still works fine? Does it glorify God to have this many? If He asked me to give one or all of them away, would I be able to willingly do it?
- Talents – How am I using the talents God entrusted to me? Does it glorify God or myself? How would God want me to use them? Am I using my talents to their fullest potential, or am I wasting them?
- Friendships – Are my closest friendships with God-honoring people? Am I using my friendships to reach out to people who are struggling in their faith? Is there someone God wants me to build a friendship with? Is there someone He doesn’t want me to build a close friendship with?
- Time – How am I using it? Are my biggest time-fillers something I would want Jesus to find me involved in when He returns? Is there something He wants me to spend time on instead?
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list, and God will lead people to make different decisions regarding their possessions. Some He might ask to sell all that they have, while He might ask someone else to keep what they have so that they can use it to bless other people. The idea is not to cling to a human being’s (very brief and incomplete) list or be legalistic or “all-fun-things-are-bad”. The idea is to sincerely seek God’s will about your life and your possessions. And when you surrender all your possessions to God, I think that He allows the fun things to be that much more enjoyable. And maybe, just maybe, serving God with your “possessions” might turn out to be more rewarding than the fun things anyways.