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And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions (Mark 12:28:34).
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights (Prov 3:11-12) (Heb 12:5-6) (See also Rev 3:19).
Who are the greatest people in the Bible?
Adam? Adam is responsible for all of the evil and death in humanity. He was created perfect, in God’s own image, in every way like God. He traded it for the promise of being like God, but instead distanced himself and all his descendants from God, dooming all to death.
Abraham? The patriarchs? They all chickened out, growing afraid of the people around them. Abraham and Isaac both pretended their wives were their sisters for fear of the nations around them. The families of the patriarchs were riven with conflict. Brothers trying to kill brothers, selling brothers into slavery, trading their birthrights for soup, killing all the men in a city out of revenge, and the list goes on.
Moses? Moses murdered a man. He also wasn’t very good at leading; he made a LOT of mistakes.
David? David committed adultery and then murdered the woman’s husband. He also neglected many of his children.
Solomon? In the name of lust, he refused to lead his people to God, but let his many wives lead them into idolatry and polytheism.
Elijah, the greatest prophet since Moses? Chickened out and hid in a cave.
Gideon was a coward. Jonah hated the Assyrians. Peter was a coward and abandoned Jesus. Simon was a zealot and a rebel. Matthew was a tax collector, a traitor to his people working for a foreign occupier. Paul refused to go on mission with his friend and mentor Barnabas when Barnabas refused to leave Mark behind because Paul didn’t trust Mark after he abandoned them before.
The great figures of the Bible all have these things in common: They walked with God, but they were also routinely rebuked by Him. They were not perfect. But they are God’s people.
God does not require perfection in order for you to be His child. He just requires all of you.
You can hold nothing back. Being God’s child is not compatible with the Hokey Pokey: you can’t be in, then out, then in, then out again. Go all in.
“Yeah, duh. I know this,” you say as you roll your eyes. “So what’s new?”
What’s new is not the message, but you.
You are not the same person you were yesterday. You certainly are not the same person you were last year.
What you laid down to God last year needs to remain laid down. But what do you need to give up now?
It is so easy to say, “Yeah, I’ve surrendered to God. I’m good.” But I tell you, surrender to God daily. You can’t surrender once and call it good, because it is your habit—everyone’s habit—to pick it back up again and try to run with it on your own.
It is entirely healthy—entirely necessary!—to periodically reflect and see what you’re holding back from God. The daily walk with God, in a sense, consists in finding new things that you have not surrendered.
And it’s not just the bad things you have to surrender. After all, there is probably more of you that is good than that is bad. But if you want to grow, you need to give up what is good for what is best.
You need to surrender to God your sins and your goals. Your hopes. Your dreams. Your ideas. Your identity. Your creativity. Your habits, both good and bad. Your plans for marriage. Your plans for family. Your plans for education. Your plans for health. Your plans for finance.
Most of these things are good things. Hopes, dreams, goals, marriage, family, education, etc.: All these things are good. But if they are not surrendered to God, they will hold you back.
One thing that I lay down again and again is my hope to be loved by someone. I’m still single and I’m heading towards my mid-thirties. I really want to get married and have a family.
It’s a good desire. But it can also be an idol in my life. It’s something I have to lay down at the throne of God and say, “This is yours, not mine. Not my will, but yours be done.”
You can’t hold back. You can’t say, “God, I give you all of me. Except this bit. I like this bit.” It doesn’t work that way.
So, ask yourself: What are you holding back from God? Why won’t you let it go? What do you hold more dear than following God?
How can you address these things in your life? How can you lay them down? Call in your friends and mentors and get their input.
What will it take to not hold back?