“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12: 1-2
“All for Jesus!” written by Mary D. James, is a longtime favorite hymn of many of the dear saints of First Presbyterian Church in Dillon, SC. Rightly so! This hymn presents the sum of the Christian life in poetic form. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12: 1-2, speaks of the whole devotion that Christ desires from His people. In fact, on the heels of Paul taking eleven chapters to explain the beauty of the gospel – grace, justification, the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and God’s plan to save His people – the Apostle states that these grand doctrines demand a response. That response is presenting your body as a living sacrifice. Living a life, “All for Jesus!”
If we consider the call of discipleship, complete devotion of ourselves to God is the logical response to all that He has done for us. God desires for us to give unto Him our time, talents, desires, and possessions, and even that could never begin to show our appreciation for His willingness to save us from the wrath we deserve for our sins against Him. Our total devotion means that we set our minds upon our crucified Savior, and we refuse to conform to the patterns of this fallen world. If we love what the world loves, we cannot love what our Lord loves. Furthermore, what is the best way to learn how to deny the world’s ways and embrace the Lord’s will? The biblical writers state that it is through the renewal of our minds, which occurs as we study and meditate upon God’s Word (Rom. 12:2; Heb. 4:12).
Oh, how all of this is so beautifully captured in this hymn! I love the hymn-writer’s earnestness for the Christian life within the lyrics of her melody:
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my being’s ransomed pow’rs:
all my thoughts and words and doings,
all my days and all my hours.
Let my hands perform his bidding,
let my feet run in his ways;
let my eyes see Jesus only,
let my lips speak forth his praise.
Worldlings prize their gems of beauty,
cling to gilded toys of dust,
boast of wealth and fame and pleasure;
only Jesus will I trust.
Since my eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside;
so enchained my spirit’s vision,
looking at the Crucified.
O what wonder! how amazing!
Jesus, glorious King of kings,
deigns to call me his beloved,
lets me rest beneath His wings.
Looking at our crucified Savior, we see Christ’s life is our example of “spiritual worship” and a life wholly devoted to the Lord. Our Savior, being without sin, endeavored to please His Father in every moment of His earthly life and ministry. His endeavor was not in vain; Jesus lived a life completely devoted and absolutely pleasing to the Father. With Christ as our example, we must admit, of course, that we will fall short in attempting to do the same. Yet, again looking at the Crucified One, we see that God is gracious and that He forgives all who repent of their sins and shortcomings in our “spiritual worship.”
The last line of this hymn is captivating. Jesus calls us, “His beloved” and gives us rest. Not only does this have undertones of Psalm 23 and Jesus being the great Shepherd of the sheep, but it also helps us to express that resting in Christ necessarily leads to worship, for worship is the only reasonable response to the grace of God we find in Christ Jesus. We discover this in today’s hymn and correlating Scripture text (Rom. 12:1, 2). The most logical outcome of the gospel is a doxological outcome: a life of total devotion, of spiritual worship to God in gratitude for our great salvation.
Indeed, our response to God’s gospel of grace is a life that is “All for Jesus!”