Take Time to Be What?

A classic hymn shows why holiness is scarce these days.

In the early 1880s, William D. Longstaff wrote a poem that later became a hymn called "Take Time to Be Holy." In my branch of church tradition, we often sang this hymn. As a kid I considered it uninspiring (sorry, Mr. Longstaff), and I groaned whenever the song leader announced it. Today, decades later, I have taken a fresh look at the song and reconsidered my earlier appraisal. There's substance here.

Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord,
Abide in him always,
And feed on his word.
Make friends of God's children;
Help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing his blessing to seek.

There are three more verses to Longstaff's hymn, and the second verse is also worth quoting:

Take time to be holy,
The world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus
Like him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct his likeness shall see.

Each line of that second verse prompts an objection from somewhere within and helps me to understand why holy people tend ...

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