Living For Others
Every young Christian will usually decide by his course within a few months after conversion, whether he will be a strong Christian or whether he will be like the vast majority of professors who amount to nothing.* They live and move and have a being but that is about all. When they die the world does not miss them and would not know they had gone except that there is a little more vacant space.
It is a sad fact and yet this is a fact, that the most of the latter day Christian life does not amount to anything. Young convert, determine that this shall not be the case with you, for it need not be and should not be, for God has opened great possibilities for every one of us.
One great thing that will determine what we are to be, is the attitude we take towards the conversion of others. One of the proofs that we are converted is a desire to see others converted. If we have not this we may well doubt our conversion and ought to see about it at once. If we have this desire for the conversion of others, we ought to be very careful that we do not stifle it, as upon it depends not only the welfare of some with whom we mingle but also our own advancement.
We may have sought God in order to save own souls but now out of gratitude to our Savior and from a feeling of humanity we ought to seek the welfare of others. We shall give some reasons for this.
1) We ought to go out of ourselves and seek the salvation of others for the glory of God. Sinners are breaking the laws of the God that we love and trampling in the dust the honor of our King. We ought to stand up for his honor and seek to persuade men to honor Him. Every sinner saved adds to the divine glory. While he is in sin, he dishonors God.
2) We are called to the same work as Jesus – to get men saved. We are called the salt of the world. We are to be the Lord’s ambassadors. Jesus went about doing good. So ought all his disciples. This is the only way he has of bringing this world back to God — through the efforts of His servants. It is a glorious mission. It was just this spirit that caused Jesus to leave the skies. When we have His spirit we shall have the same desire to be a blessing to the world about us. And if we really have his spirit we shall be a blessing to some one. We are lights in the world, but a light is of no use unless it shines in someone’s darkness to cheer him and drive the darkness away. There are no drones in God’s hive. There are no silent partners in his firm.
The more Christlike we are, the more helpful we will be to others. There is a sad mistake abroad today and that is that only the ministry are responsible for the welfare of souls. We are just as much responsible for the souls of the community according to our ability as the preacher. There are people whom we can reach that the preacher never can reach. We are our brother’s keeper. God will hold us responsible as much as any one else for our Christian life and activity.
3) In helping others we are helping our own Christian life. The tree of religious activity is dependent for its growth on its fruitfulness. The farther it extends its boughs and branches over men, giving shade in time of heat and its fruits in time of need, the more it strikes its roots into the soul and drinks deeper of the nourishment of the soil and makes itself stronger. We once heard a bishop say concerning foreign missions, that the question was not, could the heathen get along without us, but could we get along without them. They were a splendid field to exercise the muscles of our benevolence. This is true as regards all Christian effort. Jesus says, “unto him that hath shall be given and he shall have abundance.” The wise man says, “there is that scattereth and yet increaseth; there is that which withholdeth more than is meet and it tendeth to poverty.” The man who helps others helps himself.
The people who are all dried up in their Christian experience are the people who are all bound up in themselves.
We read a story many years ago of two men riding in the country on a very cold day. They saw a man lying in the snow perishing from the cold. One of them proposed that they get out and try to save his life. The other objected on the ground that they would freeze themselves as it was very cold. But the heart of the one was so full of pity that he could not endure to see the other die, and he left the sleigh and began to work to rouse the man from the stupor into which he had fallen. After a long time he succeeded in saving the man but what was his horror in returning to the sleigh to find that the man whom he had left in the sleigh was himself frozen. The one man by his exertions had kept himself alive, in saving the other, while his comrade had lost his life by keeping still.
This is a good illustration of the spiritual experience of many. They have kept themselves alive by seeking to save others. While many have perished by their want of love and indifference to others’ welfare.
Only the unselfish life is the vigorous life. Those who pray most for others learn how to pray and have power in prayer for themselves. Only the man who is interested in others is happy. No man can be a happy Christian who does not seek to be a blessing to others. The next time you have an opportunity just study the faces of the people and see how happy those people look whom you know are seeking to bless others, and notice the faces of those who are all wrapped up in themselves.
There is as much difference in the looks of the two classes as between the looks of a whirlpool and a fountain, for that is what they each are. Resolve that you will live for others. Ask God to give you a passion for soul-saving, and if you ask aright, He will.
*PLEASE NOTE: While McLaughlin’s basic exhortation in this chapter against spiritual mediocrity is valid and good, this particular statement strikes me as incongruous and a bit hard. He speaks of one who, after a genuine “conversion” becomes part of the “majority of professors who amount to nothing.” One who is genuinely converted should not be “lumped together” with “the majority of unregenerate professors” as long as he or she remains a child of God. And, it cannot be truly said of any genuine child of God that he or she “amounts to nothing”. Even the “rank and file” in Christ’s army have a high value to Him, having been purchased with His precious blood.