The Value of Surrender
God’s Value System: The True Treasure
“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me.”
What we value is what we treasure and strive to attain. A young, rich man comes to Jesus with a remarkable and insightful question. There is no more important question we may ask than the question: “Teacher, what good things shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” This one question is the most critical of all the questions we wrestle with, and we desire to find a clear answer. It is a question we must all ask. “What do I need to do to obtain eternal life?”
However, even as he asks the question, there is a hint that he is looking for the wrong answer. His question related to his works. In his mind, salvation was attained through our efforts, and the way to God is obtained by living a good life. He stands in contrast to the little children who came to Jesus. They came with nothing to offer and so must rely upon the grace of God. This young man desired to find the secret formula that he would do to accomplish his salvation. Instead of resting in grace, he sought salvation through his efforts.
In Jesus’ response, he points back to the importance of obedience to the law. In pointing to the law, he is not affirming salvation is attained through works. Instead, he is pointing to the opposite. The law was never given to be a means of salvation. Instead, it was given to show us the necessity for salvation. If we genuinely understand the law and its requirements, we will realize we cannot fulfill it. Such was the case of this young man. In his mind, he has faithfully fulfilled all the requirements.
Nevertheless, for all his bravado and confidence in his self-righteousness, his failure to fulfill the law is brought to light in Jesus' response. Jesus states that only one more thing is necessary: God and sell everything and give it to the poor, and then come and follow him. Jesus knows the young man’s heart, that his true idol was his wealth. Jesus confronted him with the fact that he did not truly love his neighbor, for his neighbor was also those who were poor and destitute.
It is essential to understand that Jesus' statement is not just a clarion call for social justice. The actual command was to “Come, follow Me.” Jesus is pointing to the heart of genuine faith, the faith revealed by the children in the previous verses. Faith is not merely an outward act; it is a heart condition. It is the willingness to surrender all and follow Jesus. Jesus calls him to leave everything and become one of his disciples. This is what he desires from us. Genuine faith is expressed in the willingness to forsake all things and completely surrender to the teachings and will of Christ. It is to bring our whole life under the authority of Christ’s lordship. It is easy to give lip service to being a disciple, but it is quite another to surrender our life to him fully. We are willing to give Jesus our time and money, but we desire to retain control of our lives. We want Christ to conform to us. That is the true expression of our sinful nature. This was the character of this young man.
Jesus confronts us with the same question. Are we going to relinquish control of our lives, our wealth, our perspective, and our values to bring them under the authority of Christ? We give lip service to Jesus but want to retain ownership of our lives. This is the heart of sin. As Christ points out, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments!” (John 14:15). We must surrender completely to him. Like the question Jesus asked this man, he also asks you and me: “Are you willing to give up everything—your wealth, your values, your pride, your plans, your life—and surrender to Christ and follow him completely?” How we answer that question determines our eternal destiny.