Mary said in Luke 1:46-47 “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” The English word “rejoice” here is the translation of the Greek word ἀγαλλιάω which means “to be extremely joyful.” Mary didn’t begrudgingly surrender to God’s will for her life, she surrendered joyfully!
We must guard against surrendering begrudgingly, like Cornwallis did to Washington during the American Revolution in 1781. At Yorktown, VA Washington defeated Cornwallis and forced his surrender. But Cornwallis so resented Washington and the fact that he, a great military General of the British army had to surrender to the rag tag band of revolutionaries, that he refused to attend the surrender ceremony. Pleading illness, he sent his sword of surrender to Washington via his second-in-command, General Charles O’Hara. And like Cornwallis, the British soldiers also surrendered reluctantly, against their will. As they marched out to surrender, the British band played the song “The World Turned Upside Down.” Though they were surrendering outwardly, this song showed the inward resistance in their hearts.
Our surrendering to God’s will is a lot like our giving to the work of the Lord – it has to be done a certain way for God to accept it. When it comes to giving the Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). It’s not enough just to give in the Christmas Offering – for God to accept the gift as an act of worship for which you’ll be rewarded, you have to give willingly and cheerfully. In the same way, when it comes to surrendering to God’s will for our lives, for God to accept it as an act of worship, we have to do it willingly and cheerfully, as Mary did.
Friends – can I tell you that begrudging surrender is not the kind of surrender God wants from us! God isn’t pleased with outward obedience but inward resistance, inward resentment, inward reluctance. So I ask you: Do you read your Bible and pray joyfully? Or do you practice the spiritual disciplines begrudgingly? Do you drive to your growth group each week joyfully or reluctantly? Is it a chore or a time you cherish? Do you give of your time and talent and treasure joyfully or resentfully? Do you view it as a burden or a blessing? Do you share your faith out of a sense of duty, or is it a delight?
The kind of surrender that’s pleasing to God is the kind Mary had. She surrendered to God’s will joyfully! And that’s what God wants from us as well!