Totally Abandoned - Part 1
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
By comparing Scripture with Scripture we realize this verse is not to be taken literally, but rather it is an example of Bible hyperbole, or a literary technique of exaggeration used to make a point. We read a similar verse in Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
We are comparing the love for Jesus to that of Mother and Father. Hate is not the issue for we are told in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Furthermore we see in Luke 14:26 that if we love mother or father more, or for that matter, if we love anyone or anything more than Christ we cannot be His disciple. He must be our all.
There is a term that occasionally is heard in Christian circles – that of total abandonment. It sounds good, but what exactly does it mean? If we claim total abandonment, do we realize just what we are claiming? It is foolish to claim to be wholly given to Christ if indeed that is not the case.
Let us allow the Dictionary to give us some insight. In part it defines the word abandon, as “. . .to withdraw one’s support or help. . . to surrender one’s claim to, right to or interest in; give up entirely . . . to cease trying to continue. . . .” (The American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition – Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York)
Two Sides of Abandonment
We can see from this partial definition that the word abandon deals with the idea of surrendering and giving up on something or someone. In the case of total abandonment it is not Christ we are giving up on, but rather the opposing kingdom. When we reach for total abandonment we are giving up on satan, withdrawing our support as we surrender our claim and our right to him, giving up on him entirely, and ceasing to continue to follow him.
Some other words we could use to describe this same word are relinquish, resign, leave, forsake, and quit.
There is another side to abandonment as well. Our dictionary definition continues. “. . . unbounded enthusiasm; exurberance.” (The American Heritage College Dictionary, Fourth Edition – Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York)
As we leave the old life behind true abandonment of the devil ought to bring a new joy and excitement as we willingly and lovingly serve the King of kings. As we abandon the past we can now abandon ourselves to Christ. What a joy! What a privilege!
What about the other part of our phrase – total. It carries the idea of completeness, the whole. Every piece of our life is to be given to Christ. When we seek total abandonment, we give up all of our rights, and allow the God of the Universe to call every shot. Total abandonment empties an individual of all pride, and it is a painful process. Few choose to undertake it.
In Exodus 21 Moses tells us of the laws concerning servants and bond servants. In verse 2 we read, “If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.” This was acceptable for most servants, but occasionally a servant would love his master and not wish to be set free. In verses 5 and 6 we are told further, “And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”
This was a legally binding contract between the master and the servant. The root of the contract was founded in a mutual love. The servant abandoned his freedom for something better. We are to be bond servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be totally abandoned from the world, the flesh, and the devil; and be totally abandoned to Jesus Christ.
Although the word abandon is not to be found in Scripture, the principle is found throughout its pages -and often hard words are used to describe the concept. Consider I John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We read Bible verses so carelessly sometimes. We understand we are not to love the things of the world, but yet we minimize its meaning. We allow little things to enter our lives and insist that God understands. He will overlook certain pet sins. He knows we are dust. Yes He does, but . . . .
God Will Not Overlook Sin
He will not overlook sin. He will not excuse sin – “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). It is high time we who name the name of Christ to live up to our responsibility in Him. Jesus is not to be added to our life. He is to be our life!
Look at the second part of I John 2:15 – “. . . If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We may say, “Oh that is just a little thing. God is not really concerned about it. He will overlook it. Why is it that we are not as quick to say, “I do not possess the love of the Father?” We want to overlook sin, and at the same time claim we love God. That simply is not what he Bible teaches. If we are to be totally abandoned, God must hold even the seemingly little, insignificant areas of our lives.
Abandonment - a Life of Suffering
Luke 14:27 continues to hit the nail on the head. “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” The cross was an instrument of execution. One who was headed to the cross could not expect a life of ease, but rather a road to, and of suffering. We are specifically told in I Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” You were called to live a life of suffering. If you are living a life of ease you may want to consider one of two things, or perhaps both.
- Are you truly a child of God?
- Are you living for Him? Are you totally abandoned to Him?
If you see no suffering in your life, it is because you are not following in His steps - steps of suffering. You have yet to take up your cross, and without taking up your cross, you cannot be totally abandoned. You are either a disciple or you are not. There are no grey areas. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
Count the Cost
Luke continues in chapter 14, verses 28-33 – “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
You see, there is a cost to the Christian life, and it can be very high. Are you truly willing to risk all for the cause of Christ? Are you really ready to pour your entire being into furthering the Kingdom? It may be you will need to sit down and count the cost to determine if you are willing to pay the high cost of total abandonment.
What if the cost meant a loss of personal health? What if tomorrow brought you to an encounter that would leave you paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of your life? What if you were to lose a spouse, mother, or child to a senseless, violent crime? Would you be out for revenge or would you meekly and patiently accept it as God’s will for your life? What if the economy suddenly fell apart and you find yourself penniless, and homeless living on the streets? What if . . . ? Have you counted the cost and are you willing to pay the high price of following Jesus?
Total Abandonment in the Christian life takes on more, than at first glance, meets the eye. Take some time. Consider what God has for you in this area of abandonment, and stay tuned for Part 2.