Posted by: rcottrill | December 17, 2018

My Task

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Words: Maude Louise Ray (b. ___, circa 1880; d. (date unknown); S. H. Pickup (b. ___, 1877; d. ___, 1952)
Music: Emma Louise Hindle Ashford (b. Mar. 27, 1850; d. Sept. 22, 1930)

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Maude Louise Ray was the assistant editor of a magazine called The New York Evangelist. She wrote a brief poem summarizing Christian duty, calling it My Task. Later, a pastor (likely Stanley Howard Pickup, of Ontario, according to the Cyber Hymnal) added a third and final stanza.

The word “task” has been around for centuries. We may use it to refer to work of any kind, but there’s often an added dimension to it. A task can be defined as an assigned duty. The original was related to the word tax. It’s labour we have been called to perform, a responsibility that’s been laid upon us.

A parent may say to a son or daughter in the home, “I want your room tidied up before supper.” Or an employer may say to an office worker, “See that those files are sorted in alphabetical order.” In either case there is a prescribed duty involved, an obligation to be fulfilled.

The word is found in the Bible a number of times. When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, they were commanded to make bricks for Pharaoh’s building projects, and treated harshly if the quota was not met. “Why have you not fulfilled your task in making brick?” (Exod. 5:14). Later, regarding the holy duties of the Levites, God said, “Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task” (Num. 4:19).

The priests and Levites were to be materially cared for by the nation, so they could give their time to religious duties. In Nehemiah’s day, he assigned to trustworthy workers the distribution of food to them. “They were considered faithful, and their task was to distribute to their brethren” (Neh. 13:13).

The word task isn’t found in the New Testament (New King James Version), but words such as duty, ought, owe, and due, convey a similar meaning. For example, if we claim to be believers, we should act like it. “He who says he abides in Him [i.e. is in fellowship with the Lord] ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (I Jn. 2:6).

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples [failings] of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). We should thank God for spiritual progress of others (II Thess. 1:3; 2:13). And, as with Israel under the Mosaic Law, Christians in the local church are to support materially and help the servants of God (Rom. 15:27; I Cor. 9:9-11).

We each should show love to one another, emulating the sacrificial love of Christ (I Jn. 4:11; 3:16). This love is demonstrated with stunning humility in the upper room. So much so that, at first, Peter shrank from it. There, their Master and Lord took the place of a servant, and washed the feet of the others (Jn. 13:2-11). Then, He said:

“If I, your teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you must be ready to wash one another’s feet. I have given you this as an example so that you may do as I have done” (Jn. 13:14-15).

The example, of course, is one of humble service, and not confined to one thing. Foot washing was a common need at that time, because of dusty roads and the open sandals that were worn. Our own service, in the name of Christ, may consist of a wide variety of things. But there is to be no pride in it.

“When you have done all those things which you are commanded [by the Lord], say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Lk. 17:10).

The song we’re looking at here speaks of such things as love, servanthood, purity, prayer, consistency, and obedience to God. It’s what we’re to do, as Christians. That’s part of our God-given task.

CH-1) To love someone more dearly every day,
To help a wandering child to find his way,
To ponder o’er a noble thought and pray,
And smile when evening falls,
And smile when evening falls:
This is my task.

CH-2) To follow truth as blind men long for light,
To do my best from dawn of day till night,
To keep my heart fit for His holy sight,
And answer when He calls,
And answer when He calls:
This is my task.

CH-3) And then my Saviour by and by to meet,
When faith hath made her task on earth complete,
And lay my homage at the Master’s feet,
Within the jasper walls,
Within the jasper walls:
This crowns my task.

1) Looked at in the light of this song, what are your God-given “tasks” today?

2) How well did you do with the tasks God gave you yesterday?

Wordwise Hymns (none)
The Cyber Hymnal


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