For a long time, I had a serious love-hate relationship with these lyrics:
“All to Thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all”
I loved what it says about Jesus, that He’s worthy of our all, but I hated what it says about me. If I’m honest, I’m not sure if I’ve ever surrendered all. It felt disingenuous to stand up, in front of my congregation, and sing I Surrender All. Regardless of how badly I wanted to mean what I sang on Sunday, I knew I'd fail to live up to it on Monday (or more likely on Sunday afternoon).
But after singing it one morning I found myself wondering, Will I ever be able to sing those words and truly mean them? I couldn’t figure out how to answer that question—that is, until Philippians 3:8-12 answered it for me.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
To get me to see that I was looking at this all wrong, the Spirit directed my attention to three words, “depends on faith,” in verse 9. I saw how my surrender had become a law to me; I was basing my worthiness to sing the song on whether or not my spiritual performance was up to snuff. I neurotically looked inside myself to see how well I was surrendering.
Then God obliterated my neurosis with the wrecking ball of the Gospel. He showed me that my surrender depends not on human righteousness—which is polluted and corrupt—but on faith, which is an indestructible gift He gives in Christ (Eph. 2:8).
I began to see my inability to surrender all as a powerful reason to sing it all the more. After all, Jesus surrendered everything to God for me. Through His flawlessly righteous performance, God has begun a work of true surrender in my heart, which He has promised to complete (Phil. 1:6).
Therefore, my surrender is not contingent upon the goodness of my performance, but upon the glory of His surefire grace sanctifying me day by day. Singing this song has become a powerful way of conforming my heart to His will.
Now I no longer look at myself when I sing about surrendering all; I look at Christ, and I sing it by faith in Him alone.
Tyler Greene is the Associate Pastor of Worship Ministries for LifePoint Church in Ozark, MO.