Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 28, 1967

"Well, A Man Has To Live, Doesn't He?"

Wm. E. Wallace

Gospel business is calculated to do marvelous things for a person's personality and for his attitude toward life. One thing it will do for a man is that of tempering his self-interest. It will make him to want to live more for the other than for himself. There are those who put their personal welfare before principle or their personal interest before duty.

There are Bible examples of such self-interest, and many instances involve men from whom we would expect something better. There was Abraham who twice jeopardized his wife's honor to secure his own well-being. (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-17) "Like father like son" - Isaac did the same thing. (Genesis 26: 6-16) There were prophets who assured personal security before the king by neglecting to prophesy truth (II Kings 22:6-8, Jeremiah 23.) The kings liked this - they were like the man who changed doctors because the old one constantly warned of the consequences of obesity, liquor and tobacco.

When Jesus talked of the bread of life (John 6) some disciples walked with him no more - they decided they couldn't live on that kind of bread (John 6: 66.) Pilate washed his hands - you see, it was better for him to keep peace.

What of some of those preachers who have "flopped over" to liberalism because the financial, social and family pressures involved in walking the old paths are too uncomfortable? "Well, a man has to live doesn't he?"

Christ said a man doesn't have to live! "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John 12:25) Jesus seemed to express our problem when he observed, "Now is my soul troubled: and what shall I say, 'Father save me from this hour?"' Should Jesus beg God to deliver him from the suffering ahead? "Well, a man has to live doesn't he?" No, Jesus said, "For this cause, came I unto this world." He put duty, mission and principle before the human element of self-preservation and he placed service to mankind over self-interest (John 12:27.)

We see the climax of Jesus' service on the cross. There at the cross some Jewish authorities sneered at him and taunted him (Mark 15:30-32): "Save thyself... He saved others; himself he cannot save." Their judgment that Christ could not save himself was based on their own idea that any man in this crucifixion situation would save himself if he could. They figured that if he can't save himself from crucifixion there is nothing to his claim that he came to save others. They couldn't see the majesty of losing a life for a cause, as a sacrifice, as a ransom for others. So they concluded that "this fool on the cross was wrong because he can't even save himself."

Surely the sacrificial life and death of Christ will move us to think less of self and more of service -like the song teaches: "None of Self and All of Thee." There is a story told of a Chinese potter, who being ordered to produce some great work for the emperor, tried long to make it, but in vain. At length, driven to despair, he threw himself into the furnace, and the effect of his self-immolation on the ware, which was then in the fire, was such, that it came out the most beautiful piece of porcelain ever known. So, in our life, it is self-sacrifice that gives real excellence and a glory to our work.

During wars in which America has been involved, jokes about cowardice were circulating. There was this one: "The draft board rated me 4-F for physical reasons; no guts." A. comedian told of "bravery": "Bullets and shells were passing all around me; in ammunition carriers, on the way to the battlefields." How do you feel about the battlefield where the war against the devil is being waged?

Someone suggested that there are three kinds of attitudes: (1) "My first and last consideration is myself." (2) "I will give as long as I receive." (3) "I will give, requiring nothing in return." Where do we fit in? You?

In the countless situations when and where Christians are confronted with a decision, faith, principle, and service should dominate. Faith — Christ and the church. Principle — morals and ethics. Service — Christian performance. With these dominating our lives we will not need to rationalize with the question which comprises the title of this article. Rather, we can rejoice with Christ and conclude, "But for this cause came I unto this hour."

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