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Words: Will Lamartine Thompson (b. Nov. 7, 1847; d. Sept. 20, 1909)
Music: Will Lamartine Thompson
Note: Thompson was a successful popular song writer. At the age of sixteen he wrote “Darling Minnie Gray” and “The Liverpool Schottische” (the Schottische was a nineteenth century dance, like a slow polka). Both songs were published, and he was on his way to a big career in secular music.
But he later committed his life to the service of Christ and focused on writing hymns. (There’s a bit more about him in the Wordwise link.) His best known creation is the song of invitation, Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling. But the present song seems to express his own testimony in directing his talents to the service of the Lord.
It’s doubtful whether an accurate monetary value could be placed upon all the wealth of the world. But many individuals are rich in financial terms, and getting richer. It used to be that millionaires were looked upon as fabulously wealthy, but not any more. For someone to have more than a million dollars in cash and assets is now relatively common. There are now over fourteen hundred billionaires, some possessing seventy to eighty billion dollars. Their combined wealth is some 5.4 trillion dollars.
It raises the question of how much money is enough. The answer is often: just a little more. As Solomon puts it in the book of Ecclesiastes, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Ecc. 5:10).
The Bible directs us into a better path.
CH-1) Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all;
He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall.
When I am sad, to Him I go, no other one can cheer me so;
When I am sad, He makes me glad, He’s my Friend.
CH-2) Jesus is all the world to me, my Friend in trials sore;
I go to Him for blessings, and He gives them o’er and o’er.
He sends the sunshine and the rain, He sends the harvest’s golden grain;
Sunshine and rain, harvest of grain, He’s my Friend.
The other pertinent question is: What’s to be done with accumulated wealth? The response of a rich man, in a parable of Jesus, was to live it up. He said to himself, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk. 12:19). But God said: “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (vs. 20; cf. Ps. 49:17; I Tim. 6:7). It happened also in an actual incident.
“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not bear false witness, do not defraud, honour your father and your mother.’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’ But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mk. 10:17-22).
To see the purpose of this life in terms of acquisition and the accumulation of possessions is short-sighted. It fails to consider eternity and prepare for it. As the Lord Jesus put it, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). Even the wealth of all the world is not worth the sacrifice of one’s eternal soul.
That’s the conclusion reached by Will Thompson, the popular musician of a century ago. He could well be witnessing to us about his own commitment, in the words of his song. In the penetrating words of missionary C. T. Studd, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; / Only what’s done for Christ will last.” If Jesus is indeed “all the world” to the believer, everything else in life relating to values and decisions, will flow from that.
CH-3) Jesus is all the world to me, and true to Him I’ll be;
O how could I this Friend deny, when He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right, He watches o’er me day and night;
Following Him by day and night, He’s my Friend.
CH-4) Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better friend;
I trust Him now, I’ll trust Him when life’s fleeting days shall end.
Beautiful life with such a Friend, beautiful life that has no end;
Eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my Friend.
1) Can you give a couple of examples of how values and decisions will be affected in the life of one for whom Jesus is “all the world”?
2) How would those same things be affected if commitment to Christ were either non-existent or only halfhearted?