Years ago a guest speaker in church asked us to raise our hands if we believed we were fully surrendered to God. I raised my hand.
At the time, I thought I was fully surrendered. But over time, God showed me how I was holding back. What does “full surrender” look like? I wondered.
Then I read the story of the woman who poured the entire contents of a costly jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. The practical ones grumbled. “What a waste!” they said. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” The apostle John tells us that Judas Iscariot was the one who objected. “He didn’t say this because he cared for the poor,” he wrote, “but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6 NIV).
“Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.”
This woman, described by Luke as a “woman who had lived a sinful life in that town,” demonstrated better what full surrender looks like than the disciples and the “good” folks of the time—in more ways than one.
First, her motive was pure. An outcast, she was looked down upon by the so-called “righteous” citizens who were indignant that this pariah would crash their party. But she’d been forgiven and given a new life, a clean slate, and she wanted to show her deep gratitude. How grateful am I that the doors of heaven have flung open wide for me, thanks to the sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary? How do I show my gratitude for what God does for me every single day? Full surrender shows gratitude.
Second, she gave the best she had. Most alabaster in those days was actually marble, and we know marble, even today, is costly. The perfume, nard, was worth a year’s wages—around $33,000 by today’s standards. Wow. Have I ever given God my best? Full surrender gives the best.
Third, she poured it all out. Nothing kept in reserve—just in case. When have I given God my all? Full surrender doesn’t hold back—it gives all.
Fourth, she ignored the criticism and obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit. How often do I let what others might say or think of me determine what I do? How obedient am I to the Holy Spirit’s promptings? Full surrender obeys.
Fifth, she recognized the opportunity to do what she could before the window closed. Too often I say, “mañana”—not now. Tomorrow. Next week. Next payday. When I have time, money, whatever. And I lose the opportunity to do good. Full surrender doesn’t put off or look for excuses—it acts promptly, whether or not the command makes sense.
Who am I most like—the weeping, grateful woman? The smug, prideful onlookers who thought they were better than her? Or, worse, am I like Judas, hiding behind greed and selfishness?
Another account comes to mind: David—the shepherd, psalmist, king, “man after God’s own heart”—went to purchase some property so he could built an altar to God (2 Samuel 24:18–24). The owner offered to give it to him. David refused. “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Have I ever truly sacrificed to give? Full surrender sacrifices.
Full surrender. I’m not there yet, but, with God’s help, I’m still working on it.
Father, keep drawing me closer to full surrender to You. Remove the fear of losing control—the fear of losing what I love and cling to. Plant the desire, the willingness, and the trust I need to let You truly be God and Lord. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Matthew 26:6–13; Mark 14:3–9; Luke 7:36–38; John 12:1–8