“None of Self and All of Thee” was a hymn written by Theodore Monod in 1874 and it has well expressed these many years the spiritual struggle the earnest disciple of Christ must face in moving from a worldly focus on self, to the proper focus on Christ.
The opening stanza of the old hymn begins, “Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow that a time could ever be, when I proudly said to Jesus, ‘All of self, and none of Thee.’”
It is sad that this is indeed the attitude of many in the world. Instead of glorifying God and Christ as supreme, they worship themselves and put their own desires first. They fall into those covetous desires which are called, in the Scriptures, “Idolatry.” (cf. Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5)
The irony is that the more men seek to please themselves, putting themselves first, the more pain and sorrow they bring to the world, and the more wretched and unhappy they tend to become themselves. Jesus teaches us another way, seeking joy and glory in imitation of His own self-sacrificing service; a service to others that ended with His glorification before God (cf. Philippians 2:1-11).
Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26; ESV.”
Jesus must be supreme, greater in a man’s estimation than “even his own life,” if he is to follow Jesus as a disciple, learning the lessons of the master. This is in keeping with the ultimate of commandments, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).” We cannot love God with all that is in us if, in truth, we are loving ourselves more.
Some, realizing the folly of total neglect of God, try to make a partial commitment to Christ, daring to place Him on an even footing with self. Again, in the words of the hymn, “Yet He found me; I beheld Him bleeding on th’ accursed tree, and my wistful heart said faintly, ‘Some of self, and some of Thee.’”
A little bit of serving Christ, and a little bit (or more) of serving self. Many think to themselves that this approach seems a reasonable compromise. Surely, they reason with themselves, Jesus can’t expect everything.
But again, Jesus tells His disciples, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25; ESV)
Jesus is not asking for a partial denial of self; a compromising denial of self which avoids the most arduous of sacrifices. His own example brooks no compromise. As we read the Gospels, we see Him denying Himself in order to go to the cross on our behalf: giving all that He had for our good.
We too are called to make our lives a living sacrifice to Him (cf. Romans 12:1), holding nothing back.
So long as we are trying to have some of self, and some of Christ, we are warring with Christ and refusing to allow Him to truly live within us. We are trying to serve two masters, ignoring the true master who taught that such dual service was impossible (cf. Matthew 6:24). We cannot in full honesty claim to be living Christ-like, if we are still clinging to those bits and pieces of self that we refuse to give up to Him.
Our attitude and philosophy should always be that which John the Baptist espoused, when he considered himself in relationship to Christ: “I must decrease, and He must increase (John 3:30).” We should seek to be able to say, with the apostle, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20).”
We have not truly given ourselves to Christ until we can say, with the closing verse of the hymn, “Higher than the highest heaven, deeper than the deepest sea, Lord, thy love at last has conquered: ‘None of self, and all of Thee.’” It is then, and only then that we will fully know the peace and joy that Christ promises to all who walk according to His commandments.
The church of Christ invites you to come worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any question you would like answered or addressed, please share them with us.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.