The noblest life
(J. R. Miller, "Things to Live For" 1896)
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." Romans 13:8
Jesus taught that we should live, "not to be served — but to serve". This is a lesson that it is very hard to learn. It is easy enough to utter sentimental platitudes about the nobleness of service — but no one can truly live after this heavenly pattern, until his being is saturated with divine grace.
"Serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13
There are countless opportunities for usefulness and helpfulness open to earnest Christians. Every day's life is full of occasions where good may be done by simple deeds, or words of kindness. The value of these unpurposed things is very great. We may live all day and every day — so that each step of our path shall be brightened by loving service. The world needs our love continually. We meet no one from morning until night — whom we may not help in some little way at least. It is possible for us to make a good deal more than most of us do, of these opportunities for the service of love.
Every individual Christian is the center of a circle whose hearts he may touch with a blessing of love. He is a custodian of blessing which he is to impart to others. The noblest life, is the one that is given up most unselfishly to serving.
God has so ordered, that we cannot love and serve Him — and not also love and serve our fellow-men. Jesus made this very plain in His picture of the last judgment, when He said that He is hungry — in every hungry little one of His; that He is sick — in every least one of His who is sick; that in the stranger who comes to our door — He stands before us, waiting for the hospitality of love.
In serving His people — we are serving Him!
In neglecting His people — we neglect Him!
We cannot fulfill our duty of loving Christ and serving Him — while we ignore our fellow-men. He accepts no such service. If we say we love Him — He points to the needy, the hungry, the sick, the burdened ones, the suffering all about us, and says: "Show your love to My people. I do not need service now — but these need it. Serve them in My name. Look at each one of them — as if I were Myself the one in pain or need — and do for these, My brethren, just what you would do for Me if I were actually in their condition."
To act selfishly toward a believer — is to act selfishly toward Christ. To neglect a believer who needs our help — is to neglect Christ Himself. To do good to any in Christ's name — is to serve Christ Himself. We must look upon every believer — as if he were Christ.
We dare not pass by anyone carelessly. We know not to whom we may have a duty of love. We are always safe in assuming that we have an errand of love to everyone we meet. We need not announce our mission, and we must never display ostentation in the discharge of our duty of love. We need only to hold ourselves in readiness, with all of love's humility, alacrity, and gentleness, to do whatever heart or hand may find to do in serving him. Our duty to him, may be nothing more than the showing of kindness in our manner, the giving of a hearty greeting, or the inspiration of a cheerful countenance. But however small the service may be which it is ours to render, it is a divine ministry!
No mere theoretical acknowledgment of this universal obligation will avail. Lofty sentiment is not enough; we must get the sentiment into practical life. We must bring our visions down out of ethereal mists — into something substantial and real. We must let the love of our heart, flow out in life, and act, and helpful ministry. In this world in which there is so much need, sorrow, and heart-hunger — loving service has a holy mission everywhere. If we would be Christlike, we must, like our Master, go about doing good. "I am among you — as the One who serves." Luke 22:27
We can learn this divine lesson of service — by regarding every person we meet, as one to whom we are sent on an errand of love. This will put an end to all our supercilious pride and haughtiness. We shall no more set ourselves up on little pedestals of self-conceit, demanding homage from others. Rather, like our Master, we shall stand with basin and towel, ready to wash the feet of the lowliest.