Whosoever Will Save His Life
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Summary: Excerpt from My Favorite Bible Text, The Southern, Publishing Association, Nashville 8, Tennessee
 
 

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.­ Matthew 16:25

Here are words of life—stern, demanding, yet leading to salvation. The truth embodied in them has a much wider significance than is commonly ascribed to it. . .The student recognizes, in this paradox an epitome of all history. Those who live only for themselves live little lives. Those who devote their lives to a cause greater than them­selves always find a larger, fuller life than the one they surrendered. Wendell Phillips expressed that thought in graphic fashion when he said: "What imprudent men the benefactors of the race have been! How prudently most men sink into name­less graves, while now and then a few forget them­selves into immortality." How true it is that we achieve success, not by remembering ourselves, but by forgetting ourselves in devotion to things larger than ourselves.

Read the inscriptions on the monuments reared by grateful hands in honor of those whom the world calls great, and you will find that they record not what those honored dead have received from the world but what they have given to the world. Their epitaphs prove in truth that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35. Too often we measure the value of a human life by its income. The divine measure of the value of a human life is not its income, but it's outgo—its overflow—its contribution to the needs of the world.

Throughout all the long and wearying ages the story of man clearly indicates that we can never find this larger life by striving after it. The shoreline along the great ocean of time is thickly strewn with derelict wrecks of selfish, self-centered men­—men who were so intoxicated with desire for power, so inflamed by lust, and so controlled by greed that they either ignored or overlooked this emphatic mark of vital religion.

Really, what a strange and distorted idea of life most of us have. "Everybody is striving for what is not worth the having," wrote Thackeray a hundred years ago. Today the tremor of fear is quivering along the over-taut nerves of the world because the things in which men have trusted have tumbled down in the collapse of a world catas­trophe. And still we spend our time, our energies, our very lives, in a wild scramble to get things—­things that will not hold one particle of value for us after the doctor signs our death certificate.

Always when we reach out to lay hold of some coveted possession that will gratify a selfish ambi­tion, the words of the Saviour come home to us with fresh force, as though they had been spoken only yesterday: "He that findeth his life shall lose it." Matthew 10:39. In other words, we shall never find a life worth finding by selfishly seeking for it. This is worth pondering.

There is a way, though, the Master reminds us, to find this larger, richer life. But it is a way altogether different from any we might imagine. ''He that loseth his life...shall find it.'' Matthew 10:39. We do well to underscore that word "loseth," for so much of our living is on the cold, legal ground of work and reward. We like those who like us. We invite because we expect to be invited in return. We never give presents, we exchange them. But we can add no cubits to our stature in that way, for when we give to get, we never get. Only as we give with no thought of getting do we really get.

We call this Scripture a paradox, and so it is, but the form of its phrase concerns me little. Clearly the Master is saying that if we want to get done in life the best things we are capable of accomplishing, we must first take this puny, selfish self of ours and bury it so deep in things outside ourselves that we forget all about ourselves and grow up to the full stature of that glorious self God meant us to be.

Whittier's advice to a youth who sought his counsel is still to the point: "Young man, if you would make the most of your life, join yourself to some righteous but unpopular cause." He that loseth his life in some great cause—"for My sake and the gospel's," Mark has it—shall find it again both here and hereafter. (Mark 8:35.) This is the great secret.

There is infinitely more for each of us in life than the little verdict of what is going to happen to me. What is there in it for me? How much will it help me? We suffocate in such narrow confines, smothered by the tyranny of personal welfare. Never mind me! All humanity has a claim upon us, for we live in a time different from all other times. Truly these are tremendous days, brimful of call to daring and self-sacrifice.

If the cause of God is to prosper, if the chariot of God is to, roll on, it needs your shoulder and

mine pushing at the wheel. If the gospel of the kingdom is to go quickly to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, the responsibility for sending it must not be left to the evangelist and the minister. ''The Son of Man came not to be minis­tered unto," said Jesus, "but to minister." Mat­thew 20:28. That was the Master's motive. And the Master's motive must be the master motive with us. That is life at its best.

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