There Is a rather popular phrase (no doubt of spurious origin, although that is a guess!) that has come into the American vernacular. That phrase is, “giving it up…” One may “give it up” for a comedian as he comes on the stage to give his monologue. One may “give it up” for a musician whose previous accolades give promise to a great evening of entertainment. The “giving up” is a deal. You “give up” your attention and time and your applause and then get a return on your giving by getting something in return from the comedian or the musician.
While that phrase is popular (and has a rather crude sound to it to my own ears), I want to borrow it to talk about “giving it up for God,” giving our lives up for God – ignoring safety, security, gains made from earlier victories, to die to self and to live for Christ and receive from him what we could’ve never received of ourselves.
Jesus talks about a life of faith of getting it up for God by pointing to the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. He points to Lot’s wife as a type of the person who would cling to the material gains, the supposed security, the familiarity of a place, even a wicked place like Sodom, over the insecurity of following God into the unknown. The verse on my mind isolates the tension between conserving gains and position for security and reaching out, in faith, to give all for Christ.
“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17:33 ESV).
I believe that it was FB Meyer who wrote that our vision is blurred when self interest is injected into our vocations and our decisions.
Our calling here is to die to self to gain the life of Jesus. Our calling by way of further application is to live lives as His servants who prefer the risk of denying self and trusting Christ for (as I think of our own ministry—insert your own focus of security!) this seminary and not seeking to preserve prior gains. To cling to yesterday’s victories is also to retreat into yesterday’s security. To live like that is an illusion if not idolatry. To die to such cautious conservatism and supposed preservation is not only our divine calling but better achieves what we truly desire.
I was reading through some old board reports recently. Sorry, but I actually do such things from time to time. You would be surprised what you learned! In 1967 The Reverend Sam Patterson, the founder of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), an evangelist, gave his President’s Report to the Board of RTS. His report looked like a devotional at every point. On the state of the seminary, the former WWII Navy chaplain seemed to be reporting from the deck of the “USS RTS.” Patterson observed that there was “great unity,” which made him remark that Satan would not stand for that for very long!” Therefore,” President Patterson wrote, “pray more fervently!” His report was marked by a wise, deeply spiritual brevity. “We are in great need. But because God provides, we shall see His abundant supply.”
I submit to you that this seminary was born out of giving it all up for the Savior and believing that the greatest “line item” we have in our budget is this: a trust in the God who provided His only begotten Son. If He did not spare His only Son will He not give us all things that we need for His sake? That is also true for all the ministries of the Church. Faith in Jesus Christ and God’s redemptive plan for His own creation is the greatest line item in the “budgets” of our family, our nation, and our own lives. He will not fail. He will provide.
So give it up to God. The applause of heaven awaits those who do. The peace of Christ is guaranteed to those who will. The testimony of His faithfulness is recorded for those who have.