One of my favorite hymns (and consequently one of the most tear-inducing hymns) is All To Jesus I Surrender. Each time we sing this song, I find myself quite emotional, mostly because I wonder if it’s really true. Do I truly surrender everything to Jesus?
When we think about the word all we intellectually know that it is an all-encompassing term. There is nothing left out of the word all. But intellectually recognizing it and actually fathoming what it means are two separate things, right? We can know that all means all, but when it comes to complete and total surrender, I think we forget what the word all means. Or, maybe instead of forgetting, we simply choose not to dwell on it for long enough to let it sink in.
But if you’ve ever sung that song, you’ve made a commitment. If you died with Christ in the watery grave of baptism (Rom. 6:4), you made that all in commitment. You didn’t die to a part of yourself. You didn’t bury a fraction of yourself. Some of you didn’t contact the blood of Jesus. Instead, all to Jesus we surrendered. Becoming His disciple was a total, 100% commitment to living life for the Savior.
So I want to take a moment to remind us what it means to surrender all to Jesus. As I was thinking about this post, I made a list…and within 10 seconds I had 10 things. 10 areas where I am to surrender all to Jesus. Maybe this list is a good starting point for all of us as we consider our dedication to Jesus and His cause.
I completely surrender….
1: My family ties. In Luke 14:26, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.” If I am not willing to put Jesus above every relationship I have, I am not worthy to be His. And if I haven’t put Jesus above every relationship (spouse and kids included), then I haven’t surrendered all to Jesus.
2: My friends. 1 Corinthians 15:33 shows that evil companions corrupt good habits. Are we more intent on keeping our friendships or keeping ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27)? If we are unwilling to cling to Jesus above our friends, we aren’t surrendering all to Him.
3: My closet. How I present myself is, in a sense, how I present Christ to those I encounter. Am I more focused on being fashionable or on following Jesus? Am I more focused on making myself look good or allowing the gospel message to be evident in my choices? 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Surrendering all to Jesus means putting aside anything that keeps me from having a gentle and quiet spirit— anything that corrupts my inward beauty.
4: My entertainment. Ephesians 5:3-4 reads, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.” Fornication, impurities, crude jokes, inappropriate language…these are things that shouldn’t be named among disciples of Jesus. If we aren’t willing to part ways with unfitting entertainment, we aren’t surrendering all to Jesus.
5: My words. Jesus said in Matthew 15:11 that it is not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man. The words we use show whether or not we’ve been in contact with Jesus. Peter knows this all too well. Remember when people asked if he was friends with Jesus while he was at Jesus’ trial? He said no two times before finally (and exasperatedly) cursing and speaking in a vile way to prove he wasn’t associated with Jesus (Matt. 26:69-75). If we gossip, lie, slander, tear down, use God’s holy name in vain, curse our brothers, speak ill about our elders or Christ’s church, we haven’t surrendered our speech to Jesus. And surely speech is included in the word all, right?
6: My thoughts. It isn’t just the words we use that show whether we’ve surrendered all to Jesus. In Luke 6:45, the words of Jesus are recorded: “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” It isn’t enough to be able to control whether or not bad things come out of our mouths. Total surrender to Jesus means bringing every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5); aligning our hearts totally with the mind of Jesus.
7: My money. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 shows that God has a special love for those who give cheerfully. Total surrender to Jesus means recognizing that everything I have belongs to God. We are simply stewards, some with much and some with little. Regardless, we view our money as a means to bless others. We work so that we can give to those in need. That’s totally surrendering our assets to Jesus.
8: My talents. While we do not have miraculous spiritual gifts anymore, the principles laid out in 1 Corinthians 12 still hold true for us today. We are all different. We each have “diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (v. 4). But while your talents may differ from mine, we each have the same calling: to use our gifts for the glory of God and to magnify Christ in our bodies. If you are a talented cook, why wouldn’t you use your talent to bless those who are hungry or ill? If you are a talented writer, why wouldn’t you encourage those around you via personal notes or messages? If you are a talented doctor/lawyer/teacher/dentist/mechanic — why wouldn’t you use those talents to glorify God in your interactions with others? Total surrender of my talents means recognizing and giving glory to the Giver of all good things (James 1:17), but also USING the talents and not sitting around idly while proclaiming you’ve surrendered yourself to the Lord.
9: My time. Colossians 4:5 admonishes us to “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” We don’t have a guaranteed amount of time on this earth, and neither do the people we encounter on a daily basis. With that in mind, we should be snatching up that time as much as we can, making the most of every opportunity to serve Jesus. We shouldn’t complain when worship “goes long” because we have other things to do. We shouldn’t complain about how many functions our congregation has. We shouldn’t look for ways to get out of lunches/door knockings/meetings/teaching opportunities. Instead, we should surrender all of our time to Jesus. What His kingdom needs, we will give. And we will rest on the other side (Rev. 14:13).
10: My roles. If you are a spouse, you have the opportunity to surrender your marriage to Jesus. By your marriage, you are to glorify God and present yourself/your marriage in such a way that others will glorify God as well. If you are a parent, you are to surrender that role to Christ, parenting only in the ways He has sanctioned, even if other ways may be more convenient/admired by society. If you are a friend/co-worker, you are to surrender to Jesus’ will for that role. You are to be kind, patient, evangelistic, holy, pure. In all that we are, we are first and foremost Christ’s. Total surrender means identifying as a Christian first, then letting Christian modify all of the other roles: Christian spouse. Christian parent. Christian friend. Christian co-worker. Christian student.
Surrendering all to Jesus means just that, surrendering everything. But not out of obligation. No, you freely give yourself to Him, just as the song says, because He freely gave Himself to us.
To close, I want to leave some of Judson W. Van de Venter’s lesser-sung lyrics for your consideration. And after you’ve read them, ask yourself if you’ve truly surrendered all. And if not, why not?
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,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel Thy Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine
All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!