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A Person for Others

August 24, 2020

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 seek only fun, 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.”  In their book, The Longevity Plan, Dr. John Day and Jane Ann Day describe the “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 whether or not you live to celebrate your 100th birthday, your time will come.  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 or 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 me.”  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 superficial and increasingly coarse.  Profanity is commonplace, 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 inspire, encourage, comfort, help, and love others. 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).  Ask God questions: “Where do you want me to go now? Which way should I go? Which path should I take? How can I use my talents to help others?”  Then listen for the answers.  Pay attention to opportunities and people that God puts in your path.  We are never too old to ask what God wants us to do now.  Be a person for 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 to listen to those around you.  Really listen.  Do you hear sadness, fear, frustration, despair, loneliness, or heartbreak in their words?  Follow Paul’s advice and live your life for others.  Write a note.  Take a few flowers to a friend. Call an acquaintance who is having a tough time.  When it is safe to do so, invite a neighbor over to watch a favorite movie.  Share a meal.  Check the air in a friend’s tires.  Help problem solve.  Help a friend find a doctor, dentist, or other professional.  Help a person in need find the public services they need or a place to live.

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

Prayer:  Jesus, we want to be your disciples.  Show us the path that you have prepared for each of us—with our unique abilities and talents.  Speak to us through your Word, and through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Inspire us to express our love in any way we can during this COVID-19 pandemic.  Remind us to pick up the phone or a pen and paper to connect with those around us during a time when we must physically isolate ourselves.  Keep us ever mindful of the needs of others.  Help us to be persons for others.  Amen

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.  Another version of this blog was published on this site in August 2017.

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