You Must Be Willing to Give Up Something
We all know about store exchange policies that are different depending on the store. When you take something back to the store, you can either get your money back or exchange the unwanted item for something that you want.
God has an exchange policy that is similar. You give Him something, and He exchanges it for something that is usually of greater value. God really doesn't need what you offer Him. However, He honors the act no matter how small you think may be. He wants you to be willing to give up something. In other words, God wants you to participate in your own blessings.
Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of people who gave up something and God exchanged it for something much better.
Adam and Eve
Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were innocent and walked freely in the nude, It was quite acceptable to both of them in the Garden of Eden. After they sinned, their eyes were opened, and they were ashamed of their nakedness. They tried to hide their private parts by covering them with fig leaves that turned out to be inefficient.
They gave the fig leaves up and God gave them garments of skin that were more comfortable, according to Genesis 3:21. That was the first exchange transaction in the Bible, and God has continued to use His exchange policy.
Even when Abraham was a pagan, God instructed him to leave his family and his country and go to a place where God would show him as he went. Abraham gave up his home, his country and his family. He did exactly as God instructed. He left everything behind only to be rewarded by becoming the "Father of Many Nations." (Genesis 17:4)
After Abraham had a son in his old age, he was willing to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah when God tested him. However, God had a ram in the thicket and Abraham didn't have to give him up after all, but he was willing to do so to please God (Genesis 22:1-19). The life application is that we must be willing to lay down our Isaac.
Ruth gave up her life in Moab to follow Naomi to Bethlehem to a country she did not know. She gave up her family, her friends, her culture and her god to be with her mother-in-law.
Ruth was rewarded with a husband named Boaz, a son named Obed, a grandson named Jesse and a great-grandson named David who became the second king of Israel. Even though Ruth gave up so much, she gained so much more. She is in the lineage of Jesus Christ and has a book in the Old Testament that bears her name.
Hannah prayed for many years to have a male child because God had closed up her womb. It was a disgrace to be barren and not being able to bear children. After many years, God blessed Hannah and gave her a son named Samuel.
Hannah was so grateful that she dedicated her young son to the temple. One would think that Hannah would have kept her son to herself after she finally had him. Hannah kept her vow and allowed little Samuel to work with Eli the priest at Shiloh.
God honored Hannah and gave her three more sons and two daughters. This is a very good example of giving something up and God replacing it with much more.
The Little Boy
People had followed Jesus all day long while He was teaching. It was evening and Jesus knew the people were hungry. He fed the five thousand men besides women and children after a little boy gave up his lunch consisting of only five small barley loaves and two small fish.
The little boy's lunch was enough for everyone to eat and be full. In fact, there were twelve baskets of fragments left over, according to John 6:1-15.
Jesus gave up a lot to come to earth. According to Philippians 2:5-11, Christ Jesus was God, but He gave it all up and made himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a human. He came to earth in the appearance of a man. He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross. Jesus was willing to give up his glorious life in heaven.
Therefore, God rewarded Jesus and exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When Jesus was a boy, He worked with His father as a carpenter until He was 30 years old. Then He gave up his carpentry business and began teaching, preaching, and healing.
Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and gave up His own life on the cross. He offered Himself to God in exchange for our salvation.
What Are You Willing to Give Up?
Everyone must be willing to give up something for the glory of God. It might be a lucrative job, a failed relationship, or whatever God chooses. Like Abraham with the attempted sacrifice of Isaac, you might not have to actually give it up. However, you must be willing to give it up. Then God will reward you with something greater.
What are you willing to give up? In other words, what you are willing to give up can be described as a molehill. What God gives you in return can be described as a mountain.