Posted by: rcottrill | January 25, 2017

Take Me as I Am

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Words: Eliza H. Hamilton (no information available)
Music: Ira David Sankey (b. Aug. 28, 1840; d. Aug. 13, 1908)

Wordwise Hymns (Ira Sankey)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: The earliest publication of the hymn found in dates from 1878. This gives us a rough idea of the timing of incident upon which it’s based, and also places Eliza Hamilton’ life somewhere in the late nineteenth century. As to the tune, early on one was provided by John Hart Stockton (1813-1877).

There are some folks you can drop in on virtually any time, and get a warm reception. We knew a couple like that years ago. Sometimes, when I was a boy, my dad would say to mom, “Let’s go have a visit with George and Dorothy,” and off we’d go. No phone call necessary. They were easy-going, friendly people, and you knew there was a standing invitation to come by. Their door was always opened with smiles of welcome.

Not everyone is like that. Can you imagine the protocol complications of being invited to tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace? What to do, what not to do. What to say, what you shouldn’t say. What to wear. Everything would have to fit the rules.

And even for some ordinary mortals, you may sense the need to phone ahead, to make sure it’s convenient to drop by. Nothing will likely be said, but you might get the feeling they’re doing you a favour by interrupting their busy lives to allow you to call. Better be on your best behaviour. Take off your shoes, and mind you don’t get crumbs on the carpet, or spill your coffee.

In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees could be like that (cf. Lk. 7:44-46). They were Jewish scholars, steeped in the Old Testament Law. Fine, in itself. But over the years they’d added more and more rules of their own. For example, the Law said no work was to be done on the Sabbath (Exod. 20:8-9). So what about spitting? Could you spit on the Sabbath? Yes, they said, if you spit on rock. No, if you spit on dirt, because that’s like ploughing a field. There were rules for everything. Perversely, some were actually devised, in the name of religion, to avoid obeying God’s inspired Word (Mk. 7:9, 13).

All this produced a number of bad consequences. The Pharisees, by emphasizing externals, tended to neglect inward matters of the spirit. They could be arrogant, and proud of how meticulous they were with their rule keeping, looking down their noses at those who weren’t keeping them to their satisfaction. They found fault with the Lord because He associated with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 9:10-11).

But some explanation is needed there. The Jewish tax collectors were scorned simply because they helped the hated Romans. Some were also dishonest, but surely not all. The “sinners” were something else. Sometimes their actual sins were being criticized, but not always. The Pharisees classed as sinners any who did not follow all their invented rules–and they included the sinless Son of God in that (Jn. 9:24).

Christ welcomed opportunities to minister to the social outcasts the Pharisees avoided. He punctured the shallow hypocrisy of the latter, saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mk. 2:17). And, unlike many of the Pharisees, the tax collectors and sinners listened to His teaching (Lk. 15:1), and many became His followers (Mk. 2:15).

Needy sinners will still receive a warm welcome from the Saviour, though some doubt it. Hymn writer Charlotte Elliott (1789-1871) thought so. She was sure she’d have to reform and live a good life before the Lord would accept her. When she learned the truth, she wrote a hymn about it, “Just as I am….O Lamb of God, I come.”

Then, late in the nineteenth century, there was a young girl who became anxious about her spiritual condition after attending one of Dwight Moody’s evangelistic meetings in Scotland. She went to her own pastor to find out how to become a Christian. He told her all she needed to do was read her Bible and pray, and she’d be fine. Both are good things to do, but that’s not how to get saved (Eph. 2:8-9).

The girl was heartbroken. “Oh, preacher,” she cried, “I canna read, I canna write. I canna pray!” On the latter point, she may have meant that she didn’t know how to pray in elegant phrases like her pastor. But she knew more than she thought. Lifting her eyes heavenward, she said simply, “Lord Jesus, take me as I am.” And she trusted in Christ as her Saviour.

Hearing of that incident, later, Eliza Hamilton wrote a hymn about it.

1) Jesus, my Lord, to Thee I cry;
Unless Thou help me I must die;
Oh, bring Thy free salvation nigh,
And take me as I am.

And take me as I am,
And take me as I am,
My only plea–Christ died for me!
Oh, take me as I am.

2) Helpless I am, and full of guilt;
But yet for me Thy blood was spilt,
And Thou canst make me what Thou wilt,
And take me as I am.

1) What do you think the basic spiritual problem of the Pharisees was?

2) Why is it so many feel they can earn their salvation, or their acceptance with God by doing good works?

Wordwise Hymns (Ira Sankey)
The Cyber Hymnal


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