Most of us who have grown up in a Christian home have heard of living a life of surrender. We know what the Bible says about submitting our lives to God.  We have seen, and even been, the people that have given time and money for the work of God’s Kingdom. We have seen people that have dedicated their entire lives to ministry. We have seen and marveled at people who have truly lived lives of surrender. But even in all of this, I believe there are few people who truly understand what it means to give everything to God. I know I don’t, but I have had a small taste of it and it has made me thirsty for more. It is my desire with this post to help you catch a glimpse of what surrender really means, and to give you a thirst for it as well. True surrender is very difficult, but the rewards will be greater than you can imagine.


What does surrender look like?

One of the best examples of living a surrendered life was Jesus Himself. Jesus was a man just like you and me. Sure, he was God in person, but he faced everyday life just as we do. He left the glory and perfection of Heaven and submitted himself to hunger, thirst, cold, pain, and temptation. When he gave his life on the cross, he was put through the most difficult experience that any human has ever had to endure; including physical torture, public humiliation, and betrayal by his best friends. The most amazing part of it is that he knew what was coming (John 18:4). It bothered him so much that he sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Yet despite all of this, he still prayed: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will”(Matt 25:39).

Another person who lived a life of surrender was Paul. Paul gave up his entire life to spreading the Gospel of Christ. He wrote about it many times in his letters to the early church. Paul was a man of high rank in the Jewish faith, and was recognized by all. He was a Roman citizen, and was probably paid well for his work persecuting the early church. He gave that all up to God when Jesus called him. At one point he said “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content”(Phil 4:11). This kind of contentment is not to be confused with complacency. It is not a result of “not caring” about what you may not have. This contentment can only come by completely giving up what you think you want or need and resolving to take the things that God has given you and giving it back to him. This contentment is the fruit of a life that is fully surrendered to God.

The disciples were also great examples of living a surrendered life. They gave up everything to follow Jesus. They left their families (Luke 9:59-62), their homes (Luke 9:58), and their jobs (Matthew 4: 18-22). In Mark 10:28, Peter said “See, we have left everything and followed you”. These disciples gave their entire lives to God – not only when Jesus was with them, but after He went back to His Father. That is what true surrender looks like.

Abraham was also a man who surrendered his life to God. He followed God’s command to sacrifice his promised son, probably the thing he cared about more than anything else in the world. He had faith that God would still hold true to his promises (Hebrews 11:17-19). The reward for this surrender was a fulfillment of Gods promise in a way that went beyond Abraham’s wildest dreams (Hebrews 11:12).


What does God call us to give up?

Some of us have pondered this question often. Does God want us to give up everything we own, living on the streets with the sole purpose of sharing the Gospel? While some may be called to a life like this, I do not believe that God is asking this of everyone. But what He does require is for us to give up the things that we value the most and look to Him for fulfillment. It is only through turning our focus directly to God that we can surrender everything.

  • Our Family – Jesus said that anyone who does not hate his family cannot be his disciple. Jesus was not calling us to actually culture and harbor hatred for our family members, but the point that he was trying to make is that you cannot truly follow him until you allow your family to become secondary to God’s call.
    • Luke 14:26 – “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”
  • Our Possessions – Jesus calls us to give up our right to own anything. Material possessions can build attachments to this life and cause us to lose focus on what really matters. This does not mean that a Christian is not allowed to own any material things, but we have to realize that what we have is only what God has given us and that He has the right to take any of it back at any time.
    • Matthew 19:21 – “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
    • Matthew 6:24 – “…You cannot serve God and money.”
  • The World – We are called to forsake our love for the things of this world. Allowing ourselves to focus on worldly things, even when they may seem relatively harmless, can cause us to lose our focus on God.
    • 1 John 2:15-16 – “For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.”
  • Our Worries – God does not want us to worry about things from this life. He wants us to look only to Him for strength when we face uncertainty. It is only when we give up our fears and anxiety to Him that we can experience true surrender.
    • 1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
    • Matthew 5:33 – “do not be anxious… but seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”
  • Our Desires – Focusing on our desires can quickly lead us to look for our own means of satisfaction, instead of looking to what God has given us. We need to give up the things that we want, and to look to God for fulfillment.
    • Ephesians 4:22-23 “…put off your old self, which…is corrupt through deceitful desires, and…be renewed in the spirit of your mind”
  • Our Minds– Not only does God call us to give our lives to him, he also wants control of our thought lives. It is only when we surrender our thoughts to God that we can clearly see His will for our lives.
    • Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  • Our Bodies – More than once, Paul calls us to give our bodies to Christ. Although God wants us to give him our spiritual bodies, I believe Paul is also saying that God is calling us to give him our physical bodies as well.
    • Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice…”
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “…You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
    • Romans 6:19 – “…For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness…”


How can I tell if I am surrendering to God?

One of the best ways to tell if a tree is healthy is to see what kind of fruit it bears. The same is true of a Christian. There are a few things that the Bible says are fruits of true surrender.

  • Suffering – While this is certainly an undesirable reward, we are warned that surrender to God will reap some suffering. It is when Satan sees someone moving towards God that he will attack the hardest. If you do not feel that Satan is attacking you in some way, then it is probably time to take a look at your life and see if you are truly surrendering yourself to God.
    • 1 Peter 5:8-10 – “…the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while…”
  • Confidence in Christ – It is only through surrender that we can experience true confidence in Christ. If you do not feel confident in your standing with God, there are probably some things that you have not given to Him.
    • 1 Peter 5:10 – “the God of grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  • Understanding the will of God – It is only after surrendering to God that we can see his will for our lives. This does not mean that God will give us a “map” of where our lives are going, or give us an answer to our problems right when we face them. Rather, this means that when God does reveal his will to you, it will be obvious.
    • Romans 12:2 – “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”



Living a life that is truly surrendered to God is difficult. There are many things that Satan will bring against a Christian to try to distract them from this goal. The amazing thing is that God does not require us to be perfect to be forgiven (Romans 5:8). However, He does ask us to strive for perfection (Matthew 5:48). It is when we begin to fully surrender our lives to Christ, bit by bit, that we will see rewards beyond our imagining.



Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


One comment on “A Life of Surrender

  • This puts a different perspective on why we are here. We know what our mission in life is, to serve others, but not too sure that I do so well. I hang on pretty tight to “my” things.

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