1 Peter 2:16
We Christians can talk a good game. We are so good that we can not only convince those around us, but even convince ourselves of our piety or our sold-out commitment to God. I’m speaking from personal experience here, but I suspect I’m not alone.
Of course, we can’t fool God. But He has given us a few ‘quizzes’ for us to take to gauge our true commitment. He is acutely aware of what we love in this world and what is most likely to usurp His place in our hearts. He asks us to give up the world’s security and put our trust in Him alone.
First is money and possessions. Remember that rich young ruler in Matthew 19:20-22?
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
First off, it’s pretty obvious this young ruler had convinced himself of his piety! But Jesus knew exactly where his heart and thus his treasure truly lay. Money itself is not evil, just the love of it that keeps us from sharing our blessings with others and with God. Generosity is a little quiz for us.
Second is family. This one is more difficult. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Jewish superlatives were different than ours, but the meaning is still pretty clear: nothing and no one can retain first place in your heart. It has to be Jesus first.
Many of us have family members who are not Christians or who do not put Christ first in their lives, and it causes friction. It is challenging to surrender our children to the Lord and allow Him to work their lives apart from our advice and desires. But as the saying goes, God has no grandchildren. No one gets to Heaven because of the faith of a family member. We all have to make our own choice and will be held accountable for our own actions and thoughts and choices. Putting God before family is another ‘quiz’.
Last is our life. This one might be the most challenging of all. The verse above touched on it, but as Christians we should be thoroughly convinced that death is not the worst thing that could happen to us. As humans, our core motivator is to stay alive for as long as possible. But as Christians, our core motivator is to do God’s will. Our hope and our trust is that Heaven and Jesus are waiting for us when our earthly mission is complete whether that is at age 1 or 100.
As he was about to be stoned to death for his unwavering belief, Acts 7:55-56 says, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” “
Surrendering our life to the Lord is the key to eternal life: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it -Luke 9:24. And 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Jesus urged us to love one another as He loved us, and He was willing to die for us, so we should accept that as a possibility. Romans 12:1 urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as true and proper worship. We must be willing to love God so much that we entrust Him with our ALL of our life to use in whatever way He chooses. Complete surrender as slaves to Christ is the hardest test.
Thank you to all the martyrs, missionaries, first responders, soldiers and sailors who have given their lives for their brothers and sisters. We honor their courage and sacrifice!
Lord, we surrender our finances, our families and our whole lives to you. Help us recommit to you daily as we forgo the security of this life to place our trust fully in you. We know that true freedom is only found in following you.