The Price Of True Success

We so easily spend our energy and lives trying to become what we already are—people of worth, value, and significance. If God says it’s true, it is. And he does.

The joyous life of surrender

Now we come to the stewardship question. If we are not to live by works but grace, not to try to become people of worth but believe that we are by the grace of God, then what do we do? Why do we live faithfully and obediently by the word of God? Why do we sacrifice our lives in service? Why surrender ourselves to the lordship of Jesus?

For this simple reason: God can do far more with our lives and resources than we can. He can use our money, time, gifts and opportunities far more effectively than we can. I’d want Don Nelson to coach my sons’ basketball team, or Tiger Woods to teach me golf lessons, or Pete Sampras to be my tennis pro.

I’d want the best person to be in charge. Don’t we want the Lord of the universe, the omniscient, omnipotent, all-loving, gracious God of all that is to guide our future? To direct our lives? To empower and feed our souls?

A farmer was known for his generous giving. His friends could not understand how he could give away so much and still remain so prosperous. One day he explained: “I keep shoveling into God’s bin and God keeps shoveling into mine. But God has the bigger shovel.”

Cameron Townsend, the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, used to say: “Living from hand to mouth is not so bad when it’s God’s hand.”

We need the direction and provision God can only give to those who trust him, who surrender their lives to his care. And our souls need to give to the One who gives so much to us.

Harry Emerson Fosdick expresses the point well: “The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are made of the same water. It flows down, clear and cool, from Mount Hermon and the roots of the cedars of Lebanon. The Sea of Galilee makes beauty of it, for the Sea of Galilee has an outlet. It gets to give. It gathers in its riches that it may pour them out again to fertilize the Jordan plain.

“But the Dead Sea, with the same water, makes horror. For the Dead Sea has no outlet. It gets to keep. That is the radical difference between selfish and unselfish people.

“We all want life’s enriching blessings. We ought to; they are divine benedictions. But some get to give, and they are like Galilee; while some get to keep, and they are like the brackish water that covers Sodom and Gomorrah.”

We need what God can give to those who are surrendered to him. We need to give to him in return. And we need him to use our lives more effectively than we could ever use them ourselves.

Dr. Robert Cade is a research physician at the University of Florida. In 1965 he was asked why football players lose so much weight during extended practices and games. The question led Dr. Cade to research in which he developed a drink designed to replenish the fluids lost during heavy exercise. He even named the drink after the Florida football team: “Gatorade.”

Last year, Gatorade generated sales of more than $530 million. Dr. Cade’s royalties have supplied him with a tremendous income. Yet he still lives in the same house in Gainesville, preferring to use his money to help others. He has supported Vietnamese boat people, paid the bills of many needy patients, funded research performed by himself and others, and currently underwrites the education of sixteen medical students.

When asked about his giving, Dr. Cates replied, “God has blessed me in all kinds of ways, including a big income. In the book of Deuteronomy God tells the Israelites a man should give as he is blessed. I think I am duty bound to do as He suggests.”

And God is doing so much more with his money and life than he could have done outside his Father’s will.

Conclusion

Today I want you to make a simple decision: resurrender your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Not out of guilt but gratitude. Not to be a person of worth, but because you are.

Realize that everything you have comes from his hand and grace. Your hard work is done with abilities and opportunities he has given you. There is no reason at all why you would be born in America and not Somalia, healthy and not hindered, loved and not abandoned. This day, your next breath, all come from his gracious provision. Admit that you are but a steward, a manager of a life which is not your own.

And yield it to the will of the only One who knows your very best. The only One who can see the future. The only One who has given his Son to die in your place, out of his love for you. The only One who can make your life truly significant. Surrender is not an obligation of religious duty, but a privilege of deep joy.

If the wisest, most loving, most powerful person in the world could guide your life, would that be good news? He can.

Years ago, a Sunday school in a Philadelphia church was overcrowded, as are many of our children’s departments today.

A sobbing little girl named Hattie May Wiatt stood outside, turned away because there was no room. The pastor saw her, took her inside and found a place for her. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship God.

Two years later, Hattie May died. As her body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found. It looked as though it had been rummaged from a trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note in a child’s handwriting which said, “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday school.” For two years the impoverished girl had saved this money.