Posted by: rcottrill | December 23, 2009

Cutting Up the Pie

There used to be a cute TV commercial depicting a young girl sharing out pieces of a dessert with two friends. Then a voice-over says, “And a big piece goes to her little brother”–who stands by, looking hopeful. Clearly she had not intended this. But when the voice insists, “And a big piece goes to her little brother,” she sighs and passes him a helping.

That got me thinking–that we sometimes view our lives like a pie. And a big piece goes to our family, and a big piece goes to our employer, and a big piece goes to our recreational pursuits, and so on. But if we are Christians, there is another issue. How big a slice of the pie belongs to God? Maybe we plan to fill the other plates first. Then, if there are left-overs, we will see they are passed on to Him. Or perhaps we readily cut him a large piece.

But all of this falls short. In truth, the whole pie belongs to Him! All we are and have comes from God, and ultimately belongs to Him. We are stewards of these things, no more. King David recognized that when he prayed regarding his people’s offering to the Lord, “All things come from You, and of Your own we have given You” (I Chron. 29:14). The Macedonian believers did too, whom Paul commends because “they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then [gave] to us by the will of God” (II Cor. 8:5).

Mary Dagworthy James reached a point in her life where she grasped that essential truth. Mrs. James (1810-1883) had been a Sunday School teacher since she was thirteen years old. But in later years she offered herself to God as a “living sacrifice,” releasing every part of her life to His control. Her service for God included assisting in the meetings of a leading evangelist of the day. Mary also penned about fifty hymns. One of these, entitled All for Jesus, reflects her commitment.

All for Jesus, all for Jesus!
All my being’s ransomed powers:
All my thoughts and words and doings,
All my days and all my hours.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
All my days and all my hours;
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
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.


  1. Here’s another example of how a different tune can immeasurably enhance the words of a hymn.

    I grew up singing “All for Jesus,” set to the “traditional” tune – author/tune name unknown; uses the refrain. Several years ago, after a move, I began attending a church that used a hymnal new to me: the Trinity Hymnal, 1990 edition. This hymnal contains “All for Jesus” set to the tune WYCLIFF, composed by John Stainer — and the hymn was obviously a favorite in this church. Well, with this new tune, the hymn immediately became a favorite of mine, as well. Especially the fifth verse, which sometimes I write out on a small piece of paper and put in my pocket when I go to work. It’s a great comfort to me . . .

    O what wonder! how amazing! Jesus glorious King of kings;
    Deigns to call me His beloved, lets me rest beneath His wings.

    And from there my thoughts often go to Psalm 91, and then to the hymn “Under His Wings” . . .

    • Wonderful! And I quite agree. I’ve always encouraged the use of Wycliff for this hymn. There’s a beautiful flow to the tune, superior to the repetitive melody by Asa Hull, a music publisher who wrote a number of hymn tunes in the 19th century.


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