Self-surrender

self-su-ren’-der: The struggle between the natural human impulses of selfseeking, self-defence and the like, on the one hand, and the more altruistic impulse toward self-denial, self-surrender, on the other, is as old as the race. All religions imply some conception of surrender of self to deity, ranging in ethical quality from a heathen fanaticism which impels to complete physical exhaustion or rapture, superinduced by more or less mechanical means, to the high spiritual quality of self-sacrifice to the divinest aims and achievements. The Scriptures represent self-surrender as among the noblest of human virtues.

I. In the Old Testament.

1. Illustrious Examples:

In the Old Testament self-surrender is taught in the early account of the first pair. Each was to be given to the other (Ge 2:24; 3:16) and both were to be surrendered to God in perfect obedience (Ge 3:1-15). The faithful ones, throughout the Bible narratives, were characterized by self-surrender. Abraham abandons friends and native country to go to a land unknown to him, because God called him to do so (Ge 12:1). He would give up all his cherished hopes in his only son Isaac, at the voice of God (Ge 22:1-18). Moses, at the call of Yahweh, surrenders self, and undertakes the deliverance of his fellow-Hebrews (Ex 3:1-4:13; compare Heb 11:25). He would be blotted out of God’s book, if only the people might be spared destruction (Ex 32:32).

2. The Levitical System:


3. The Prophets:

In the divine call to the prophets and in their life-work self-surrender is prominent. The seer, as such, must be receptive to the divine impress, and as mouthpiece of God, he must speak not his own words, but God’s: "Thus saith the Lord." He was to be a "man of God," a "man of the spirit." `The hand of the Lord was upon me’ (Eze 1:3; 3:14) implies complete divine mastery. Isaiah must submit to the divine purification of his lips, and hearken to the inquiry, "who will go for us?" with the surrendered response, "Here am I; send me" (Isa 6:8). Jeremiah must yield his protestations of weakness and inability to the divine wisdom and the promise of endowment from above (Jer 1:1-10). Ezekiel surrenders to the dangerous and difficult task of becoming messenger to a rebellious house (Eze 2:1-3:3). Jonah, after flight from duty, at last surrenders to the divine will and goes to the Ninevites (Jon 3:3).

4. Post-exilic Examples:

On the return of the faithful remnant from captivity, self-giving for the sake of Israel’s faith was dominant, the people enduring great hardships for the future of the nation and the accomplishment of Yahweh’s purposes. This is the spirit of the great Messianic passage, Isa 53:7: "He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Nehemiah surrendered position in Shushan to help reestablish the returned exiles in Jerusalem (Ne 2:5). Esther was ready to surrender her life in pleading for the safety of her people (Es 4:16).

II. In the New Testament.

1. Christ’s Teaching and Example:


See Kenosis.

2. Ac of Apostles:

The early disciples practiced the virtue of self-surrender. Counting none of their possessions their own, they gave to the good of all (Ac 2:44,45; 4:34,35,37). Stephen and others threw themselves into their witnessing with the perfect abandon of the martyr; and Stephen’s successor, Paul, counted not his life dear unto himself that he might finish the divinely-appointed course (Ac 20:22-24).

3. Epistles of Paul:


4. Epistles of Peter:

In the Epistles of Peter self-surrender is taught more than once. Those who were once like sheep astray now submit to the guidance of the Shepherd of souls (1Pe 2:25). The Christian is to humble himself under the mighty hand of God (1Pe 5:6); the younger to be subject to the elder (1Pe 5:5); and all to civil ordinances for the Lord’s sake (1Pe 2:13).

So also in other Epistles, the Christian is to subject himself to God (Jas 4:7; Heb 12:9).