Why do we sing ________ ?: "Not in Me"


As a worship pastor I listen to literally hundreds of songs a year. From choral pieces, offertory instrumentals, pre and post service music, and of course congregational singing, there are literally thousands of musical offerings we could partake of as part of our weekly diet at Oak Park. That creates a bit of a conundrum for a worship pastor: what do chose and what do we throw out? With only 30-40 minutes of music each week, and literally thousands of songs to choose from, and the need to shepherd our hearts with the words and theology in our music, the simple fact of the matter is that only a very few songs will actually make the cut.

So how do we pick? To answer that entire question would take too much time for this specific post, but suffice it to say the most important criterion is the song’s content. What do we need to be reminded of about God in our worship, and what songs can I find that will serve that goal. With that in mind I’ll occasionally be explaining the content of a song that we sing in weekly worship. Additionally I’ll link some resources so you can listen to the song at home and incorporate it into your own personal and family worship.

This week we’ll look at the new song: Not In Me.

Not in me was written by two Midwestern worship pastors who were challenged to write a song based on the book of Luke. Reading the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, they were compelled to ask the question; what would the tax collectors prayer sound like if it were made into a song. The results were “not in me” Why do we sing this song? It is so easy as Christians to fall into the trap of thinking that something we do can bring us favor with God.

Whether we get angry when we pridefully think we’ve earned something with him, or if our hearts deceive us with despair when we think some sin can keep us from God even after we repent; in either case the answer is that our righteousness was never our own- it belongs to Christ. We can no blemish finished work at the cross than we could add to it. In the midst of our weekly service of worship, when we’re reading, singing, praying, and giving all for God, it is essential to occasionally have a song like this remind us that all of our worship doesn’t earn his favor, but instead responds to his freely giving us favor in Jesus.


No list of sins I have not done, No list of virtues I pursue,

No list of those I am not like, Can earn myself a place with You.

O God! Be merciful to me— I am a sinner through and through!

My only hope of righteousness Is not in me, but only You.

No humble dress, no fervent prayer, No lifted hands, no tearful song,

No recitation of the truth Can justify a single wrong.

My righteousness is Jesus' life, My debt was paid by Jesus' death,

My weary load was borne by Him And he alone can give me rest.

No separation from the world, No work I do, no gift I give,

Can cleanse my conscience, cleanse my hands; I cannot cause my soul to live.

But Jesus died and rose again— The pow'r of death is overthrown!

My God is merciful to me And merciful in Christ alone.


My righteousness is Jesus' life, My debt was paid by Jesus' death,

My weary load was borne by Him And he alone can give me rest.

By Eric Schumacher & David L. Ward © 2012 ThousandTongues.org, admin by Thousand Tongues

Listen to the song: https://thegospelcoalition.bandcamp.com/track/not-in-me

Print the song for personal and family worship: http://www.thousandtongues.org/attachments/songs/modernhymns/not-in-me/Not%20In%20Me.pdf