In the latter part of the nineteenth century physicians were still treating patients with unscientific methods. Bleeding was practiced for those who had a fever, and smoking was recommended for those with lung problems. Ellen White noted: “One woman I knew who was advised by her physician to smoke as a remedy for the asthma. To all appearance she had been a zealous Christian for many years, but she became so addicted to smoking that when urged to give it up as an unhealthful and defiling habit, she utterly refused to do so. She said, ‘When the matter comes before my mind distinctly, that I must give up my pipe or lose heaven, then I say, “Farewell heaven;” I cannot surrender my pipe.’ This woman only put into words that which many express by their actions” (Ellen G. White, Temperance, p. 63).
The Importance of Surrender
God’s people of hope have surrendered to Jesus. What does that mean? At the very heart of salvation history is the great controversy theme. It gives us the big picture.
Since the day that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, all the acts of God forward have been part of His plan to restore humanity. Because of His demonstrated love for us, we are encouraged to surrender to the wisdom and will of God when it comes to quality of life now and the hope of eternal life.
The Bible informs us that “God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).* In fact, “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). When we understand that God is the Creator/Owner of everything, then we properly understand our role as stewards of the kingdom resources. So my goal as a committed Christian is to take what resources God has given me and trade with them until He comes, with the perspective of bringing profit to His kingdom.
Surrender Like Clay
The message of the prophets is “obey and be blessed, or disobey God and suffer.” This is not about salvation so much as it is a quality of life issue. If we were all smart enough to realize it, we would understand that God’s way is primarily for our own good, not just for the benefit of God’s work or His church.
The word “surrender” is not used frequently in the Bible, but the concept is there again and again. We are told we should love the Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul (Matt. 22:37). The Bible also uses the analogy of the potter and the clay to illustrate surrender (Isa. 64:8; Jer. 18:4-6). If we want something good made of our lives, we must surrender to the heavenly Potter.
In a single verse, Matthew 13:44 captures the heart and ?soul of following Jesus: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
In Old Testament times it was common for the rich to hide their treasures in the earth. Thefts and robberies were a regular part of life. In addition, whenever there was a change in the ruling power, the rich were often targeted to pay large taxes. Israel’s warlike neighbors frequently came to pillage the land of crops and wealth. But often the place where the treasure was hidden was forgotten, or the owner may have died or been taken prisoner.
An average working person is sharecropping the land of another family. While plowing with his oxen, he unearths something buried. You can imagine the man stopping his oxen and getting down on his hands and knees to investigate. He digs with his hands to uncover more and finds a rich treasure. He quickly realizes that the current landowner likely has no idea that this treasure is even there. This is unclaimed treasure, and whoever owns the land owns it. This treasure captivates him. It becomes the stuff of his dreams; he becomes single-minded about it. He decides to buy the field no matter what the cost, and, in fact, it costs him everything he has. He experiences the ultimate paradigm shift. We call it conversion! His life takes on a new perspective. He now sees through different eyes.
Perhaps some of his family and friends think he has lost his mind. But the man knows what he is doing. The field with the treasure cost him everything! He had nothing left of what he originally had, but what the field cost him paled in comparison to the value that he obtained—the greater treasure.
The treasure is Jesus and His plan of salvation.
Investing our earthly treasures in the kingdom of God is all a matter of cost-benefits ratio. Of course there’s a cost, but the benefits far outweigh the cost. There is therefore no joy like the joy of giving. The key word in this verse is joy. “For joy over it” he went and sold all that he had. This is a man captivated by joy!
Christ’s purpose in using this illustration “is to convey to our mind the value of spiritual things. To obtain worldly treasure, the man would make a sacrifice of his all, and how much more should we give for the priceless, heavenly treasure!” (Ellen G. White, That I May Know Him, p. 58).
Is It Really Sacrifice?
Is there anything worth trading for heaven and eternal life? We are told, “Jesus does not require of man any real sacrifice; for whatever we are asked to surrender is only that which we are better off without” (Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 300).
Surrender and sacrifice are not mysteries. They are a lifestyle.
Here is a simple plan of action: “Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ . . . Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate” (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 70).
Those who have been fitted for heaven through the power of Jesus have hope, and it shows in the way they deal with the many blessings that He is constantly giving them. Their journey of hope is characterized by a balanced use of God’s gracious gifts.
*Bible texts in this reading are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND SHARING
1. What does “surrender” to Jesus mean?
2. The man who found the hidden treasure sold everything he had, yet he was joyful. How could this be?
G. Edward Reid is stewardship director for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, with offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A. This article was published September 23, 2010.