Hillsong United Lyrics: True or False?

I’ll only ever give my all.

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this lyric and it just doesn’t work. I’ve been listening to Hillsong United’s Take It All non-stop for the last week. Musically I love this song, but I’ve been having trouble trying to reconcile the lyrics with what I know to be true about God. Until today, I was reading some blogs and I think I’m a little closer.

Warning: Thinking out loud post ahead. I may be wrong and I reserve the right to change my mind.

Sarah, first pointed it out to me by asking,

Are we really never ashamed of Jesus?

The Hillsong United lyrics “We’ll never be ashamed of You” and “I’ll only ever give my all” don’t seem congruent with non-perfect people. If we were prefect it seems we could sing these lines, but I’ve yet to met a Christian who never made mistake and only ever gave Jesus his all. It seems like at some point even the most authentic Christians give Jesus less than their all.

Bob from In the Clearing writes in Whitmanesque Worship

The reason I need a savior is that I have not loved God with my whole heart. If I say that now I do love him with my whole heart, I needn’t any longer speak of Jesus or long for Him, because in fact I no longer need him.

(ht: Shannon Lewis)

Bob’s argument is that we can’t with a good conscience sing, “I love you Jesus with all my heart” (or possibly even “I’ll only ever give my all.”) because it is a lie.

I disagree with this argument. I think we can sing it truthfully. (Just like the 10 verses of scripture that use “all my heart.”)

God calls us to love him with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Essentially to love God will all that we are, not simply our minds, but also our emotions and our actions as well. Worship works the same way. It’s multidimensional. So I worship God not only with my mind, but at times I worship God emotionally, even if it doesn’t make sense to my brain.

For example:

I love my wife. I mean I really love my wife more that I ever imagined I could ever love any other person. She is 15,000 times cooler than I even ever imagined a woman could ever be and I’m desperately, passionately, head-over-heals, crazy in love with her. This emotion is so powerful I don’t have words to describe it but I would definitely tell Sarah,

I love you with all my heart.

Do I mean it? 110% If we’re speaking emotionally. Now, in my actions do I love her with all my heart? Not even, close. I’m a pretty second-rate husband sometimes and I am way fortunate that my wife is so gracious. The the statement is true or false based on your perspective. Emotionally, it’s more than true, in action it is not.

How much more do I love God?

So can I logically worship God with my mind and sing “I’ll only ever give my all” ?

No, I don’t think so. That would be a flat out lie.

But emotionally would that line be a decent attempt to describe the indescribable way I feel about God?

Yeah.

Would it start to express what I want to say to God from the inner depths of my soul?

Yeah.

I believe in a huge God that wants to be worshiped with all of me. He’s big enough to be worshiped by my mind and my emotions. He’s even big enough to accept that worship even if I’m not using my mind and my emotions at the same time. If you’re like me when it comes to matters of emotion you start to use hyperbole. You exaggerate more and more trying to express what you feel. It’s not a lie. You fully mean every word of it and God knows that.

I’ll only ever give my all.

Jesus we’re living for your name and we’ll never be ashamed of you.

In our praise. In all we are today.

Take it all.

I mean those words. At least as much as David meant Psalm 26.

Don’t you?

19 Responses to “Hillsong United Lyrics: True or False?”


  1. 1 Stephen October 25, 2007 at 8:04 am

    Great post. I like the way you’re taking an honest look at the lyrics to a song we might “brush over.” You make some good points, and I agree with your conclusions.

    I would also add one observation. The lyric says “I’ll”, meaning “I WILL,” only ever give my all, and “we WILL never be ashamed of you.” It doesn’t say “I only ever give my all,” or “we are never ashamed of you.” “I will…” It’s a declaration of a commitment that is yet to come to pass, of where we are going, not where we are.

    Now, again, this is an unrealistic statement, as none of us will fulfill it honestly. God is not unclear, however, about wanting our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, and all of our strength. That said, I believe we sometimes sing both to God AND to ourselves–in a sense–in order to set our eyes on Him, to make a declaration of who He is and what He deserves, and to say to God and to ourselves in the presence of others, that though we all fall short, we WILL strive to give Him just that.

  2. 2 Sarah Chia October 25, 2007 at 8:07 am

    I think you’re right about the different ways we can worship. “Experiential Worship” by Bob Rognlien opened my eyes to this. It talks about worshiping with your mind, body, and will even if you can’t worship with your emotions, and the need to find a place for all four of those in our worship.

  3. 3 worshipcity October 25, 2007 at 8:11 am

    Every time I refresh my Reader I’m surprised and encouraged by how my friends are going through some of the same things I am. I’m prepping for a night of worship “gig” with a buddy of mine and last night as I was outlining some of the songs I was struck by the lyrics. They’re songs I don’t do by artists I’m not completely familiar with. I don’t know if I can say they are “shallow” or “casual” or just a different approach to worship that the artists I use. Regardless, it’s had me examining lyrics intently and what they mean to me and how to work it into a post 🙂

    Great post man!

  4. 4 Billy Chia October 25, 2007 at 8:14 am

    Stephen,
    Great point and I totally agree with you. That’s what I love about this song – the fact that I am stating a commitment to God. It may be unrealistic to think I can live us to it, but yeah God still demands our all and I will strive to only give my all.

    Sarah,
    Yeah, Rognlien’s book was a foundation for my thoughts in this post. And I love you with all my heart!

  5. 5 Russ October 25, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I believe that “faith” and “belief” play a huge part in singing lyrics such as this. I’m pretty sure that I am not perfect, actually I’m painfully aware of that! BUT, it’s the pursuit of genuine relationship that drives me in my worship of a perfect God.

    I believe that we can sing lyrics like this because one day we will actually walk them out in 100% total perfection. And, to me, singing in faith, some lyrics that might not actually be 100% fulfilled at that very moment encourages me to ask God to continue to change me.

    I like the first comment, and the use of the word “commitment” – I believe that lyrics like this edify us and “spur” us on to pursuing that commitment, even when we don’t feel like it.

  6. 6 Bridget October 25, 2007 at 11:58 am

    And, it’s in our heart’s desire to love him with all of us. He does the rest of the work.

    LOVE bridget

  7. 7 inWorship October 25, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Well written and very encouraging!

  8. 8 tam October 25, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    In “The Heart Of the Artist” by Rory Noland he talks to vocalists on the importance of knowing what you’re singing. Researching it, understanding it, knowing what the catch phrase is that might get the listeners attention and making that stand out. Since the time I’ve read that and really started looking at lyrics I have come to this same conclusion you wrote about today. Seeing unrealistic lyrics for the sake of rhyme, it just seems shallow. We need to, as song writers, start writing truthfully from our hearts and even more than that…GOD focused lyrics. That seems to be lacking a bit in mainstream too.

  9. 9 Pete October 26, 2007 at 4:08 am

    Maybe the line should be:

    [Deep Breath] “I’ll only ever give my all except in the morning before I’ve had my shower because I’m not really awake and not on Wednesdays when we visit Aunt Gwendolyn who won’t stop her incesant chattering while shes making dinner and possibly not when I’m on the toilet or when that idiot at work doesn’t wash his spoon after stirring his coffee but other than that Lord I’ll only ever give my all.” [‘nother deep breath]

    But seriously, I think a lot of it is about being in the moment and (as Sarah kinda said) willing your mind, body and spirit to “give my all”. Sometimes, I swear it makes my body buzz with energy, but that might be an electrical short in the microphone.

  10. 10 saintlewis October 26, 2007 at 6:41 am

    I disagree with Bob’s conclusion as well, which is why I still include Hillsong United songs regularly in our worship. However, I make a point of balancing the largely emotional, declarative content of Hillsong United songs with the more doctrinal and almost hymn-like material of Sovereign Grace Ministries and even Matt Redman, and actual hymns as well. I’m all about ‘balance’. 😉 Good post, however.

  11. 11 saintlewis October 26, 2007 at 6:44 am

    p.s. – in case you’ve not read it, I’d check out my much older post:
    http://4whatitsworth.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/a-few-lessons-learned/

  12. 12 Billy Chia October 26, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Russ,
    Right on, worship is an act of faith.

    Tam,
    I’m a big fan of Heart of the Artist. Although, really my point is that it’s quite good to sing some of the “me focused” songs. It is heartfelt worship to sing “I love you Jesus with all my heart.” That makes God the object of our worship. I do agree that we need a balance and a good mix of worship that engages not only our emotions but also heart, soul, mind, strength and everything we are.

    Pete,
    Yes, authentic worship is also volitional and not simply emotional.

    Shannon,
    Old school hymns + Hillsong United sounds like my kinda worship ministry 🙂

  13. 13 inWorship October 26, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Hey Billy, I don’t think “I love You Jesus with all my Heart” is self focused. I think that is very God focused. a lot of songs dwell on “I need” and “I want” and that to me is self-focused. I believe the picture you’ve painted here is not self focused but instead surrender and passion.

  14. 14 Billy Chia October 26, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    Brent,
    Good clarification. I’ve run into a lot of people who say that anytime we use the word “I” it’s self focused. That’s why I put “me focused” in quotes.

    I love the song Rescue. It says, “I need you Jesus to come to my rescue. Where else can I go?” It’s a great song.

    I think the key word you mentioned was dwell. There’s a broad range of lyrics and emotions that are great in small doses that become nauseating when overemphasized.

  15. 15 Bob October 27, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Well said, Billy. Thanks for interacting with my own thoughts and expressing your own so clearly.

    Of course David expressed these “all-out” thoughts about worshiping God on numerous occasions, as you point out, and maybe this was an expression of his actual state, or just an expression of his deep longing that it be his actual state. At other times he was deeply aware of his own failure to be “all-out” for God. I think what we see in so much contemporary worship is a lack of this kind of honest “complexity.” We just say we’re “all-out” for God so often that the songs seem unhinged from reality!

    What if in our songs we more often expressed our longing to be whole-hearted, a longing born of our undeniable failure to be that way, AS LONGING, rather than as if it were simply a routine truth about us (it seems routine if it’s all we ever say about ourselves).

    Anyway, I think what I’m doing here is calling for a more rounded and honest form of self-expression than is sometimes found in our worship music. More about God’s grace toward children who need it badly, than about how wholehearted we children are in loving him.

    Again, thanks for the thoughtful response to my blogpost. It looks like you’ve got a great blog here!

  16. 16 Billy Chia October 27, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Bod,
    Thanks so much for stopping by!

    I think we’re actually pretty closely in agreement then. I really feel you on the concept of “well rounded.”

    I’ve been in churches where all they ever sung was stout doctrine-packed hymns. The stoutier the better. It got old really quick and worship felt fake.

    I’ve been in churches where all they ever sung was cheesy Jesus-is-my-boyfriend “I love him so much” songs. The cheezier the better. It got old really quick and worship felt fake.

    When you talk about worship connecting with reality – that resonates with me. When there’s a rounded, broad spectrum of worship lyrics that engage my heart, mind, soul and strength the it tends to feel like worship is very real to me.

  17. 17 Amanda November 12, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    I was refreshed to read this, & like the way you’ve ‘thought out loud’ with this stuff versus how I’ve seen others approach such in the past. Often for me, I make things into prayers to say in my mind as I sing, “God, I want to only ever give you my all, help me to do this because I’m not capable of it without Your help.”

    Thanks also for your prayers! They’re much appreciated! 🙂

  18. 18 Look@sintruthfully June 2, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Let me pose a question to you all.
    Is it really possible for man in his sinful condition to love God? No. We are incapable of loving God in the first place. No one seeks God, not even one. It is only by God drawing us to Himself through the grace and hope and love of the Gospel alone that we are able to respond to Him in love. And yet, we will never fully comprehend the depths of what has been done on our behalf or what we have been saved from until the life to come, at the time where Christ gives us our spiritual bodies and we we put on the righteous and the immortal.
    Man is not capable of loving God as He ought. If you think for an instant that you are able to love God, fully, accurately, and with total regard for what the cross did for you, then I’m sorry but your living in falsehood. The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? Till our time here on earth is spent, we shall not know what true love and appreciation of the Gospel is.
    Our hearts are fickle and emotions sway our thinking. Let’s live truthfully with regard to our hearts and our sin, huh? I know that as long as I am bound by sin in this body of flesh, that I shall not fully love God or give Him back all that he deserves as the King of Kings.


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