Ours is a selfish world. Human beings are selfish, self-centered creatures. We’re taught by precept and example to “look out for number one” – meaning ourselves – before we look out for anyone else. We pursue position and power for ourselves. We seek status and significance for ourselves. Which is why the Christian life is a counter-cultural life. To truly live as a Christian is to live a life characterized by personal sacrifice, humility, and yielding.
There is no greater example of this than our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His death on the cross for our sins “. . . yielded up His spirit” (Matthew 27:50). He gave Himself up willing to accomplish our salvation. In describing what it means to live by godly wisdom, James writes that “. . . the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits . . .” (James 3:17 NKJV). It is this self-sacrificial wisdom – this life of yielding our own will to the will of God – that Frances Ridley Havergal expresses so beautifully in her hymn, Take My Life, and Let It Be. She begins with a general statement of surrender – of yielding – of the actions of her daily life to God.
Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Notice then the progression as she brings before the Lord the totality of her being. First, her hands and feet.
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee; swift and beautiful for Thee.
Then she yields her voice and the words that she speaks.
Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee; filled with messages from Thee.
Next, she brings before the Lord her material possessions and her abilities and talents.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose; every power as Thou shalt choose.
Through each successive stanza, Frances Havergal releases – yields – more of herself to the Lord, until she gets to her sense of personal prerogative and personal choice.
Take my will and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart – it is thine own. It shall be Thy royal throne; it shall be Thy royal throne.
One would think that having yielded her will and the center of her being – her heart – to the Lord, she would consider herself fully yielded. But there is yet one more step. One’s actions may be honoring to God. The words we say may give praise to God. We may use our various resources for the good of others and even the glory of God, seeking to make good and right choices in the affairs of our life. But the question of deepest motivation remains. The apostle Paul made this point in 1 Corinthians 13. We may speak eloquently for God, we may do great works for God, and we may even give freely of our possessions to bless others. But if love is not the motivation – whole-hearted love for God, as well as genuine love for people – then everything we do, or give is a worthless waste. So, Frances Ridley Havergal closes with the most important thing we must yield to the Lord.
Take my love! My Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be ever, only, all for Thee; ever, only, all for Thee.
Jesus said that the greatest thing in life is to “. . . love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV). May our love for God be such that we can say, with Frances Ridley Havergal, that we live “ever, only, all for Thee.”