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A Person for Others

August 28, 2017

What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Matthew 16: 26 (The Message).

In his 2015 address to Boyce College graduates, Albert Mohler noted that some of the wealthiest passengers on the Titanic—outfitted in their finery and jewels– were dancing on its deck shortly before it went down.  Many of them ended up on the bottom of the ocean along with their baubles. He recounted the Titanic tragedy on the joyous day of their graduation to remind them that those who only seek fame and fortune in this life will lose great joys with Christ here and now and forever.

You can’t take it with you. It is amazing to me how anyone could actually believe that wealth or fame will somehow make a difference when his or her body is lowered into the ground. Jesus said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26.[1]

Do you know people who live only for themselves–who garner every minute of their time and every bit of diamond dust for themselves?  Jesus says, “Don’t be that person.”  I recently read a book about “Longevity Village,” a remote village in the mountains of China where a large number of the villagers live to be 100 years old and longer. But your time will come—whether or not you celebrate your 100th birthday.  When that day comes, will you be dancing blithely on the deck of the Titanic, or will you be in the engine room trying to right the ship?  Will you be helping others onto lifeboats?  Will you be rescuing others?  Will you be praying with and for others?

There is nothing wrong with giving or receiving a special gift. We often give or receive a diamond or other precious gem to commemorate a special event, such as an engagement, anniversary, or birthday.  Material things only interfere with your spiritual well-being when gathering them becomes the focus or goal of your life.  You will eventually lose your life, and any amount of wealth or fame can’t change that.  The motto of the boys’ high school that our sons attended is “A Man for Others.”   Be a person for others, not a person for things.  Do you want your life’s legacy to be an “Ode to Me”, or an “Ode to Others?”

God told Jeremiah that if he spoke the truth, he could be his spokesperson: “If you utter worthy, not worthless words, you will be my spokesperson . . . I am with you to rescue and save you.” (Jeremiah 15: 19b; 20 b.). Follow God’s advice to Jeremiah, and have meaningful conversations. Be truthful. Make your words count. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly coarse. Profanity is commonplace, often even in the workplace. Do your part maintain civility at work, in your home, wherever you are. Don’t succumb to the use of profanity. Avoid gossip and idle chatter about meaningless topics. Use words to lift others up, to inspire.  Be a person for others.

Ask God to challenge you as David did: “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.” (Psalm 26: 2-3) Where do you want me to go now? What path do you want me to take now? How can I use my talents to help others?

How do we live for others? Paul tells us how: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves . . . .Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans: 12:10-13).  Stop dancing on the brink of eternity long enough to spend time with and listen to those around you.  Really listen.  Do you hear sadness, frustration, despair, loneliness, or heartbreak in their words?  Follow Paul’s advice and live your life for others. Write a note.  Call an acquaintance who is having a tough time.  Invite a neighbor over to watch a favorite movie.  Share a meal.  Check the air in a friend’s tires.  Help problem solve. Offer to help find a doctor, dentist, or other professional.  Offer a ride.  Help someone find a class, a job, or a place to live.  Encourage a friend or family member.

To paraphrase Jesus, “What do you have to lose?”

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost are Jeremiah 15: 15-21; Psalm 26; Romans 12: 9-21; Matthew 16: 21-28.

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