Posted by: rcottrill | January 28, 2019

The Cross Is Not Greater

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Words: Ballington Booth (b. July 28, 1857; d. Oct. 5, 1940)
Music: Ballington Booth

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Ballington Booth was the son of Salvation Army founder William Booth. He provided able leadership for the Army in both Australia and, later, America. A biographer describes him is “beloved by all.” When he was involved with leadership training, he was close to the men, not austere and aloof. And on the platform he was an effective speaker, and soloist (accompanying himself on a concertina). The above mentioned biographer describes him as, “a combination of the warm sympathy of his mother and the magnetic personality of his father.”

Booth married Maud Charlesworth, daughter of a clergyman of the Church of England. Later in his career, he had a difference of opinion with his father, and left the army to form The American Volunteers, which he served as General for many years.

The sinking of the RMS Titanic made news around the world, and has since spawned a multitude of articles, books, and movies about the disaster, as well as a successful search for the wreck. Titanic was the largest and most luxurious passenger vessel of its time. Its system of watertight compartments led some to conclude that it was unsinkable. It was not.

Late on April 14th of 1912, about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, the ship struck an iceberg. It was a glancing blow, scraping the side of the ship, underwater. Those in the upper decks felt only a slight momentary shudder. But down below tons of water had begun pouring into the ship–far more than pumps could handle. In less than three hours the great vessel sank, with a loss of more than 1,500 lives.

The ship’s designers were criticized for not having nearly enough lifeboats to accommodate all the passengers. There were only twenty, in part because they could not envision the Titanic would ever sink. Even if there was a major engine failure and the ship couldn’t continue, they could signal other vessels, and passengers could be ferried to them, with the lifeboats going back and forth. That was the theory anyway.

But some problems are bigger than they appear on the surface. That can happen in our daily lives as well. A change in the leadership of a company may, at first, seem to have little affect on employees, only to result, later on, in a major shake-up, or the elimination of many workers. Or a small twinge that takes us to the doctor may seem inconsequential, only to lead to major surgery.

It can happen in a believer’s service for the Lord too. Perhaps we don’t realize the burden some carry in that area. I was standing near a man on a long-ago summer day. Across the road, a local pastor was cutting his lawn. “Huh!” said my companion. “He’s got a pretty easy job. He only works half an hour a week” (thinking, I suppose, of his time in the pulpit Sunday morning). But forty years of my own pastoral ministry have shown how foolish this comment was. At times I’ve felt closer to Paul’s description of his apostleship (II Cor. 11:23-28). And the Lord Jesus spoke several times of the need to take up our cross and follow Him.

“When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’” (Mk. 8:34).

To “deny himself” means to consistently say no to Self, in terms of selfishness and our own self interest. It’s the other side of the coin to submission to the Lord. And taking up the cross–an instrument of death, symbolizes an identification with Christ, and a determination to do God’s will, whatever the cost.

This is serious business. “Who is sufficient for these things?” asks Paul. And his answer is, “Our sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 2:16; 3:5). Whether it directly involves some kind of Christian service, or simply the challenges of life we all face, the answer is the same. As the Lord assured the apostle long ago, so He says to each of His children, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Cor. 12:9; cf. Heb. 4:15-16).

In 1892, Ballington Booth published a gospel song that deals with this subject.

CH-1) The cross that He gave may be heavy,
But it ne’er outweighs His grace;
The storm that I feared may surround me,
But it ne’er excludes His face.

The cross is not greater than His grace,
The storm cannot hide His blessèd face;
I am satisfied to know
That with Jesus here below,
I can conquer every foe.

CH-2) The thorns in my path are not sharper
Than composed His crown for me;
The cup that I drink not more bitter
Than He drank in Gethsemane.

CH-3) The light of His love shineth brighter,
As it falls on paths of woe;
The toil of my work groweth lighter,
As I stoop to raise the low.

1) What particular burdens are you carrying today, in your life and your service for Christ?

2) Have you proven the sufficiency of God’s grace in time past? And will you seek His grace today for your need (Heb. 4:14-16)?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


  1. Thanks for your thoughts on one of my favorite songs. Today, if I would hear His voice I should soften my heart to realize that my Tender Savior loves me thoroughly enough to supply enormously His grace exactly right for my situation. What I mean is that sometimes we have to love ourselves enough to realize that, though unworthy, we are responsible to prepare room to accept His perfect Way for us.


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