By Stephen Phinney

Have you ever thought about the irony of someone asking if you would give up everything to serve Jesus? I certainly have. If we say “yes,” we know God will soon test our motives. If we say “no,” God will most likely bring us to the point of saying “yes.” What is a Christian to do? Well, honestly, most Christians become lukewarm.

I can’t change the fact that God tests whom He loves (Prov. 17:3). It is a real hardcore fact that we simply cannot escape if we love the Lord. Testing is a part of growth and growth is needed to sustain the attacks of the enemy. There are two primary principles I have found in the Scriptures which God requires of us, in order to get to the point of serving God rather than money.

ONE - List All the Things that You Love: What you love is what you worship. This practical principle drives you and me every day and moment of life. God will always go after the things that we love more than Him. It doesn’t mean He will kill and destroy each of our huggable lovables. What it does mean is that He will direct us to bring the people, places, and things, which summon our affections, before the altar of sacrifice. If we cannot say with our actions that these objects of love are dedicated to Him, there is a serious problem with our walk in and with Him. He knows these objects WILL become objects of worship. When we start hugging a tree more than Jesus Christ, well, we are begging to be hung on it (Gal. 2:20).

The best way to find out if something is more important to you than God is by thinking, “If God took it away, would I go into a meltdown to the point of questioning God?” It could be one or more of any of the following: money, location, children, parents, job, church, ministry, material possessions, family heirlooms, or a host of others people, places, or things.

One of the most popular stories in the Bible that God uses to communicate the importance of this message is that of Abraham and his son Isaac (Gen. 21-22). Keep in mind, Abraham had to wait on God for 80+ years to get his son. God is now asking him to “offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you” (Gen. 22:2, NASB). God was testing Abraham of his loyalty to Him versus his son. God was also demonstrating the perfect kind of love: sacrificing the people, place, and things that mean the most to us, for the simple sake of love and loyalty to the One who created the things we hold on to the most. Plus, this was a prophetic act and replica of what God Himself was about to do with His own Son in the future.

Even though it appears that God is a “drama king” here, He isn’t. God knows we tend to remember His principles longer when He places these memory markers, which usually come through painful sacrifices.

Just as with Abraham, we need to get alone with God and build our altar (on our knees on the side of our bed). List out our “gods” and ready ourselves to confess them before the living God as idols. Pray through the list in full honesty, claim God’s forgiveness for our idolatry, and let Him know we are releasing these people, places, and things to death OR life, and that we will live with His choices regarding each of these items.

If you’re not as confident with God as Abraham was regarding God’s ability to raise his son from the dead, to fulfill the other promises He had given to Abraham, then ask God for that confidence. God never changes His promises to us because of our rebellion. If He said He would do something for or with us, He will; but He might require of us to sacrifice all that will get in the way of pure service. There is one thing for certain; whatever we give to God, He is able to protect and multiply far more than we.

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12, NASB).

When we give up our most treasured items before the Lord, it activates His protective nature of those very things. We must continue to pray, “From this moment on, these things belong to You. I give them to You. I release my own rights over them and join You in your prerogative to manage them as You desire.” If we ever stray from this point of prayer, He will start the testing all over again. It is like Abraham taking his knife and “stretching forth his hand” to slay his beloved son (Gen. 22:10).

Abraham could not get to the point of sacrificing his own son until he was willing to die to the human emotion he had for the earthly object of devotion. The action of dedicating his most beloved possession to the Lord was not complete until he did this. You and I must do the same thing and be willing to be thankful ahead of time for whatever He decides to do with our “letting go.” I won’t lie to you; there are times when He does, for His own reasons, take the object of worship away from us. But, I believe most of the time, He restores the items with a new sense of worship unto Him.

Just remember: God shares His glory with no one!

TWO - Plan on God Revealing His SUPERNATURAL Power: Abraham did not have to wait too long for God to show Himself. As soon as He was assured He had Abraham’s heart and loyalty, He provided a different sacrifice. Abraham learned some very powerful lessons that day. He certainly learned that authentic sacrifice takes place in the core of a man’s soul, not in the superficial act of self-sacrifice.

He also showed us that once we let go of the emotion connected with the object of worship, God will be able to show His wonderful miraculous power through the very people, places, and things that we held onto so tightly. Usually, they become the foundational building blocks of our ministry of service unto Him. In Abraham’s case, even though God required him to sacrifice his son, God used the life of Isaac to continue building a great nation (Israel) through Abraham’s seed. My encouragement to you is make that list; give Him your marriage, children, grandchildren, job, friendships, church, reputation or whatever it is that toots your horn; AND lay it at the altar. Consider praying this prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, I desire to walk after the Spirit and serve you in my daily living. I recognize that the sin of idolatry is a direct assault against Your divine nature. I acknowledge before You that the act of ______________ is idolatry and sin. If this sin has been passed down to me through my ancestors, I break its power of influence through the blood of Jesus Christ. I accept Your redemption and forgiveness through the work of the cross. I recognize that it is only Your Son, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, that has the power to cause me to serve You and You alone. I choose to give You all the honor and glory that You deserve. I ask that the Holy Spirit bring the work of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus into the areas of my life, which these idols have consumed. Enable me to respond to Your prompting and voice to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Remind me that I am not to give divine attention to any person, place, or thing, including myself. Today, I entrust my victory over these idols completely into the hands of the Holy Spirit as I choose to let Him take full control of me. It is in the blessed name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.