The Practice of Surrender

"If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me." (Matthew 16:24 NCV)

Paul's moment of surrender occurred on the Damascus road after a blinding light knocked him down. For others, less drastic methods are needed to get their attention. Regardless, surrendering is never just a one-time event. Paul said, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31b NASB).

There is a moment of surrender and there is the practice of surrender, which is moment-by-moment and life-long. The problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar, so you may have to re-surrender your life 50 times a day: "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me" (Matthew 16:24 NCV).

Let me warn you: When you decide to live a totally surrendered life, that decision will be tested. Sometimes it will mean doing inconvenient, unpopular, costly, or seemingly impossible tasks. It will often mean doing the opposite of what you feel like doing.

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5 NKJV).

We are, by nature, self-centered. When hurt by someone, your natural inclination is to hurt back. It is natural to hoard money instead of generously sharing it, to defend yourself when criticized, to hide your mistakes instead of confessing them, and to try to impress others. You can usually figure out what will please God by doing the opposite of your natural inclination.

Bill Bright founded Campus Crusade for Christ, and through the worldwide Crusade staff, his tract "The Four Spiritual Laws," and the "Jesus" film (seen by more than 1 billion people), it's estimated that more than 150 million people have come to Christ and will spend eternity in Heaven.

I once asked Bill, "Why did God use and bless your life so much?" He said, "When I was a young man I made a contract with God. I literally wrote it out and signed my name at the bottom. It said 'From this day forward, I am a slave of Jesus Christ.'"

Have you signed a contract like that with God? Or, are you still arguing and struggling with God over his right to do with your life as he pleases?

It is time to surrender - to God's grace, love, and wisdom.

Talk About It

What characteristics about yourself will you have to adapt in order to do "inconvenient, unpopular, costly, or seemingly impossible tasks" because of your surrender?

- Ask your small group or accountability partner to pray for you as you struggle to overcome your pride, ambition, and selfishness and surrender your life to Christ.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional © 2013 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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