“Not I, But Christ”

“NOT I, BUT CHRIST”

“I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20)

     INTRO.:  A hymn which emphasizes the importance of being crucified spiritually so that it is not us but Christ living in us is “Not I, But Christ.”  The text is usually attributed to Ada Anne Fitzgerald  Whiddington  who was born in 1855 somewhere in England.  The daughter of Robert Fitzgerald, Ada married Richard Whiddington.   Their son Richard later became Cavendish Professor of Physics at Cambridge University. Ada is thought to have been associated with the Keswick Convention.  The poem was produced around 1880.   The most commonly used tune (Simpson) with this hymn was composed about 1891 by Albert B. Simpson (1843-1919). 

    Sometimes the text is ascribed to Frances (Fannie) Eugenia Bolton who was born on Aug. 1, 1859, at Chicago, IL.  After graduating in 1883 from the Preparatory School of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, Bolton worked as a correspondent for the Chicago Daily InterOcean (predecessor to the Chicago Tribune). She joined the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in 1885, served an assistant to Ellen G. White from 1887 to 1890, and authored Battle Hymn of the Kingdom in 1898.   In 1890, Bolton apparently took some stanzas from Ada Whittington’s hymn, perhaps added some of her own, and composed her own tune (Bolton) for it. 

     Francis Bolton died on June 28, 1926, at Battle Creek, MI.  Ada Whittington died on Mar, 14, 1933, at Hendon, England.  Other tunes that have been used with the hymn include one (Albany) composed by J. Albert Jeffrey in 1886 for the hymn “Ancient of Days;” one (Consolation) composed by Felix Mendelssohn and most often used with the hymn “We Would See Jesus;” one (Morning Star) composed by James P. Harding in 1892 and sometimes associated with the hymn “Brightest and Best;” and one (Exaltation) composed by C. H. Forrest in 1925.

     The song reminds us that the emphasis in our lives should be not on self but on Christ.

I. Stanza 1 points out that only Christ should be honored in every aspect of our lives

“Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;

Not I, but Christ, be seen, be known, be heard;

Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,

Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.”

 A. We should honor the Son even as we honor the father: Jn. 5:23

 B. This means that we should live in such a way that others will see, know, and hear Christ in us: Col. 1:23

 C. Therefore, we must make sure that every look, action, though, and even every word, which reflects the attitude of our hearts, is pleasing to Him: Matt. 12:33-37

II. Stanza 2 points out that only Christ should receive glory for the good that we do

“Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,

Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;

Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,

Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.”

 A. When we soothe others who are in sorrow, we are doing the will of Christ: Matt. 25:31-40

 B. When we wipe the falling tear, we are acting as members of the body of Christ in suffering with other members: 1 Cor. 12:25-27

 C. When we lift the weary burden we are fulfilling the law of Christ: Gal. 6:2

III. Stanza 3 points out that only Christ should be in control of our speech

“Christ, only Christ! no idle words e’er falling,

Christ, only Christ; no needless bustling sound;

Christ, only Christ; no self important bearing;

Christ, only Christ; no trace of ‘I’ be found.”

 A. We should let no idle words proceed out of our mouth but only that which will edify: Eph. 4:29

 B. While there is a time to speak, there is also a time to keep silent, so we should not be known for needless bustling sound: Matt. 6:7

 C. Nothing in our speech should ever show self important bearing or emphasis on “I”: Rom. 12:3

IV. Stanza 4 points out that only Christ can supply our every need

“Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,

Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;

Not I, but Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,

Christ, only Christ, here and eternally.”’

 A. We must look to Jesus Christ alone through whom God will supply all our needs: Phil. 4:19

 B. Thus, only through Christ will God preserve our body, soul, and spirit: 1 Thess. 5:23

 C. And only godliness, which involves serving Christ, is profitable both here and in eternity: 1 Tim. 4:8

V. Stanza 5 points out that only Christ should be magnified in our deeds

“Not I, but Christ, in lowly, silent labor;

Not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil;

Christ, only Christ! No show, no ostentation!

Christ, none but Christ, the gatherer of the spoil.”

 A. We should always strive to be abounding in the work of the Lord: 1 Cor. 15:58

 B. However, there must be no show or ostentation because we are His workmanship: Eph. 2:10

 C. Hence, we should want Christ to be the gatherer of the spoil as He is magnified in our bodies: Phil. 1:20

VI. Stanza 6 points out that only Christ will take us home to glory

“Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;

Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see—

Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling—

Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.”

 A. Someday only Christ will fill our vision because we shall see Him as He is: 1 Jn. 3:2

 B. Then, we shall appear with Him in glory: Col. 3:4

 C. When this occurs, He will be our all in all just as we shall have striven to make Him our all in all here in this life: Col. 3:11

     CONCL.:  The Simpson version has a chorus, which is always omitted when the text is used with the other tunes and sometimes omitted even when used with the tune by Simpson:

“O to be saved from myself, dear Lord,

O to be lost in Thee,

O that it might be no more I,

But Christ, that lives in me.”

Yes, there are things that God expects me to do in my relationship with Him as well as in my relationships with others here upon this earth.  However, if by God’s grace I am able to meet the conditions upon which He has promised to grant me eternal life, I must remember that it is “Not I, But Christ.”

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