Posted by: rcottrill | November 20, 2017

A Passion for Souls

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Words: Herbert George Tovey (b. May 6, 1888; d. Mar. 20, 1972)
Music: Foss Luke Fellers (b. May 4, 1887; d. June 16, 1924)

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Herbert Tovey was an American pastor and musician, and taught at a number of colleges. He established the Sacred Music Foundation, which published several collections of Christian songs, and wrote a number of gospel songs and tunes himself. His book, Applied Song Directing, gives practical help to service leaders and choir directors. It was very useful to me as a young man, when charged with the direction of our church choir.

A survey was conducted by Forbes Magazine. One hundred women in their thirties were asked: What are you passionate about? The top answer was, “Being a good daughter, mother, sister, wife/partner, aunt, granddaughter, friend and member of the community.” Second was, “Living a life filled with meaning and finding the balance to enjoy their lives.”

A few more things high up on the list of what these women were most passionate about; health, nutrition and exercise; professional success; gender equality–helping other women to be successful; learning, both personally and professionally; and supporting causes that are meaningful to them.

Back to that list in a moment. It’s revealing. But it will be helpful to think about what it means to be passionate. Passion is a strong and compelling emotion (for example, love or hate). It involves qualities such as longing, desire, craving, enthusiasm, and excitement. In a negative sense passion can be an immoral lusting after something we have no right to have.

The latter seems to be the way the Bible most often speaks of it. When people turned from the living God to worship idols, Scripture says, “God gave them up to vile passions” (Rom. 1:26). And “each of you should know how to possess his own vessel [his body] in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (I Thess 4:4-5).

But it’s certainly possible to have a strong and compelling emotion–to be passionate–in a good and godly sense too. The Apostle Paul says, “the love of Christ compels [urges, impels, continually constrains]” believers to live “for Him who died for them” (II Cor. 5:14-15). Phillips’ paraphrase says, “The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ.”

Strikingly, and sadly, this did not make the list anywhere in the things the women surveyed were passionate about. Imagine! Women keen to be successful, and with many fine goals. Yet no room for the Lord Jesus Christ who loved them so much He came to this earth to die, paying the penalty for all their sins.

After all God has done for us, in saving us, and blessing us in so many other ways, we ought to “Serve the Lord with gladness [with joy and pleasure]” (Ps. 100:2). “Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavour; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11, Amplified Bible).

One particular aspect of that service is our witness for Christ. When one has experienced the joy of God’s forgiveness, through Christ (Eph. 1:7), and the promise of an eternal home in heaven (Jn. 3:16; 14:2-3, 6), it makes sense that he or she will want to share that with others, and invite them to put their faith in the Saviour. We have passions for many things in life–enjoyable things, fun things. Music, football, fancy cars, chocolate, and more. Why not that?

Herbert Tovey thought so. In the early years of the twentieth century, he was a young student at Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago. One of the requirements for the students was to speak to someone about Christ, at least once each week. This meant leaving the classrooms and dorms behind, and going out into the busy city streets to share their faith.

Perhaps Tovey found this difficult, or at least it wasn’t a compelling desire of his heart. But he prayed for a loving concern for lost sinners, and he wrote one of his first gospel songs about that. A prayer for the kind of passion that would motivate him to reach out to those in need of Christ. A music teacher at the school provided the tune.

CH-1) Give me a passion for souls, dear Lord,
A passion to save the lost;
O that Thy love were by all adored,
And welcomed at any cost.

Jesus, I long, I long to be winning
Men who are lost, and constantly sinning;
O may this hour be one of beginning
The story of pardon to tell.

CH-3) How shall this passion for souls be mine?
Lord, make Thou the answer clear;
Help me to throw out the old life line
To those who are struggling near.

1) How long has it been since you talked to someone about what the Lord means to you?

2) What are some ways you can aid in the cause of evangelism, either through your church, or by helping some other agency or individual?

Wordwise Hymns (for another article see here)
The Cyber Hymnal


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