"LIVE FOR JESUS"
"That we might live through Him" (1 Jn. 4.9)
INTRO.: A song which emphasizes the importance of the life that we live through Jesus Christ is "Live For Jesus" (#335 in Hymns for Worship Revised and #101 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text was written by Eden Reeder Latta (1839-1907). Born near Ligonier, IN, and a boyhood friend of another hymnwriter, William A. Ogden, Latta produced 1,600 songs and hymns in his lifetime, including "Blessed Be The Fountain of Blood" and "Come To Jesus Today."
The tune was composed by Frank M. Davis (1839-1896). Born near Marcellus in Onondaga County, NY, Davis travelled extensively as a music teacher, living at different times in New York, Mississippi, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. Some of his melodies that are familiar to us include "Is My Name Written There," "Rock In The Desert," and "Savior, Lead Me Lest I Stray." This particular one, "Live For Jesus" was first published in 1892 by Rigdon M. McIntosh.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for in churches of Christ, most have included this hymn. It was not in the "Great Songs of the Church" series, but it appeared in the 1935 Christian Hymns (No. 1), the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2, and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 all edited by L. O. Sanderson; and the 1963 Abiding Hymns edited by R. C. Welch. Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church, the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed., and the 1994 Songs of Faith and Praise all edited by A. H. Howard; the 1978/1983 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by J. P. Wiegand; n addition to Hymns for Worship, Sacred Selections, and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song refers to different specific situations in which people need to live for Jesus.
I. Stanza 1 encourages our brethren to live for Jesus.
"Live for Jesus, O my brother, His disciple ever be;
Render not to any other What alone the Lord’s should be."
A. The term "brother" is often used in scripture to refer to those who are brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow members of God’s spiritual family into which we have been born again: Heb. 13.23, 1 Pet. 1.23
B. The word "disciple" means learner and follower. When one is saved, he becomes a disciple of Christ relationally, but to be a disciple indeed, he must continue to learn of Christ and follow His word: Jn. 8.31-32
C. To do this, one must never render to any other what alone belongs to the Lord: Ps. 56.12, 116.12
II. Stanza 2 encourages the wandering sinner to live for Jesus
"Live for Jesus, wandering sinner, Under Satan serve no more;
Of the promised prize a winner Thou mayest be when life is o’er."
A. The wandering sinner here refers most likely to the person who is lost and has never yet been saved from sin: 1 Pet. 4.18
B. Those who live in sin are serving Satan by their actions: Jn. 8.44, Rom. 6.16
C. However, those who turn from their sin and live for Jesus may receive the promised prize when life is over: Phil. 3.14
III. Stanza 3 encourages each one’s own spirit to live for Jesus
"Live for Jesus, O my spirit, Keep His footsteps all the way;
What the Master bids thee, hear it, And His righteous will obey."
A. "My spirit" undoubtedly refers to that part of each individual which is spiritual in nature, made in the image of God, and often referred to as the soul: Matt. 10.28, Jas. 2.26
B. The way in which my spirit lives for Jesus is by directing me to keep His footsteps all the way: 1 Pet. 2.21
C. I keep His footsteps as I hear what He says and obey His righteous will: Mt. 17.5, Heb. 5.8-9
IV. Stanza 4 encourages everyone to live for Jesus all the time
"Live for Jesus in life’s morning; At the noontide hour be His,
And at eve when day is turning, And inherit endless bliss."
A. Life’s morning would be the time of youth, when we are told to remember our Creator: Eccl. 12.1
B. The noontide hour would be the prime of life: Matt. 20.1-5
C. Eve would be the sunset years of life, leading to its end in night when no man can work: Jn. 9.4
CONCL.: The chorus repeats the main theme of the entire song and explains the most important reason why we should live for Jesus:
"Live for Jesus, live for Jesus; Give Him all thou hast to give;
On the cross the world’s Redeemer Gave His life that thou mightst live."
Yes, we should give Christ all we have to give because He gave us the ultimate gift, His life on the cross, that we might be saved from sin and have the hope of eternal life with Him. Therefore, we should certainly encourage one another to "Live For Jesus."