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Hymn 400 “Take My Life and Let It Be”

What is the greatest degree of commitment you could express toward someone? To say “I would die for you” certainly conveys very great commitment, but it is not an expression of the highest commitment. That would have to be “I would live for you.”

There are, after all, many things worth dying for: your family, your country, your friends, perhaps even a stranger who needs your help; but none of those things are worth living for. They are all too small to be the focus of your entire life, and they are all of only temporal consequence. In the final analysis, committing your way unto the Lord is the only thing big enough to be worth living for.

Hymn 400 in The Lutheran Hymnal bespeaks the Christian’s proper commitment (consecration) to the Lord. But what does that mean? One definition of commitment in the Oxford English Dictionary is “An absolute moral choice of a course of action.” Absolute? Yes. No part of our life is to be excluded from our commitment to God.

Jesus told us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. This is not a matter of making God and His demands on our lives just one more item among many others that we consider important. It’s not even enough to make that the most important item. Our commitment to the Lord is to be the governing principle of all areas of our lives. Hymn 400 expresses this total commitment in the words, “Take my life . . . my moments and my days . . . my hands . . . my feet . . . my voice . . . my lips . . . my silver and my gold . . . my intellect . . . my will . . . my heart . . . my love . . . myself.” What facet of one’s life is left out? None. This is comprehensive commitment. This is the God-pleasing life of consecration to Christ.

When we think about the fact that “Take myself, and I will be/ Ever, only, all for Thee” really means that there is no area of our lives reserved for our own autonomous control, it may make us a bit uneasy. Why is that? Is it because we are afraid of what God might ask of us? The fact that God’s will for us might not be what we would have chosen for ourselves can make us uneasy, and perhaps a little bit fearful of complete commitment.

It is Satan who tries to place such fears in our hearts as we consider the claim of Christ on our lives. But those fears are groundless! Do not take counsel of your fears. Instead, remember Who it is Who has called you to be His own. It is your dear Lord Jesus! It is the same One Who has loved you with incomprehensible love from before the time you were born. It is the One Whose entire life was committed to you, Who both lived and died for you, taking your sins upon Himself, and enduring the torture of crucifixion so that you would enjoy the eternal blessings of heaven. It is this same Jesus Who, even as He calls you to a life of commitment, promises you that obedience to that call will not be burdensome to you, but that it will rather result in great blessings in your life. For He says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Jesus lived and died for us. Total commitment. How will we respond?

Craig Owings is a retired teacher and serves as assistant editor of the Lutheran Spokesman. He lives in Cape Coral, Florida.