The Seed of Usefulness

James Smith, 1858

A godly man in commencing a review of his own life says, "When the Lord first made known his precious salvation to my soul the prevailing thought of my mind was, How can I be useful to the souls of others? I was continually inquiring, Lord, what will you have me to do? This desire if sincere and earnest, is never, I believe, disappointed; and it may be instructive to observe the way in which, in my case, the Lord was pleased to fulfill it."

He then proceeds to produce instances of usefulness, and toward the close of his book testifies, that he knew of from three to four hundred whom he had reason to believe had been converted to God through his instrumentality. Yet he was a man of very little education, and of small talent; and might very well be produced as an illustration of the text, that "it is not by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of the Lord," that the great and all important work is wrought.

Long have I been persuaded, and often have I said, that if anyone's heart is set upon being useful to souls, the Lord will use such a one for that purpose, and crown the most feeble efforts with success. Besides which it is a proof of regeneration, and of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; for as it is the work and office of the Blessed Spirit to bring souls to Jesus, he always leads the soul in which he dwells, to sympathize with him in his work.

I never felt my own soul stirred up to seek the salvation of others, or agonized with God for the conversion of my fellow-sinners but I was honored to win some and had a reward in the peace and assurance felt within.

And I am fully persuaded, that if we had more love to souls, more zeal for the cause of Christ, and were more active in endeavoring to bring our fellow-men to know and love him we would have fewer doubts and fears, less dullness and gloom, and enjoy a deeper and more abiding sense of our acceptance in the Beloved. It is always a bad thing to be taken up with SELF, and to be seeking comfort for comfort's sake. The best way, if we would enjoy religion, if we would adorn the gospel, if we would bring glory to God is to endeavor to be useful to others. O how much might be done if all the Lord's people were at work, and always at work! If everyone in his own sphere, were but striving to spread the truth, and make known the glorious Savior. Never, never, shall we be what we ought to be, or enjoy what we ought to enjoy, until we lose sight of self, and live more for others.

Reader, are you a converted man? Did you at your first conversion, find the prevailing thought of your mind to be this, "How can I be useful to the souls of others?" Did you encourage it? Did you carry it to the Lord in prayer? Did you allow it to influence your conduct? If so, and you have been any time a child of God, you can look back and see that the Lord has honored you, and that there are some traveling to glory, as the fruit of your feeble efforts.

But if you have never felt and acted thus, you are destitute of one strong proof of regeneration, and are not without reason to doubt the nature of the change that has taken place in you. Are you now, and increasingly, exercised with, and influenced by the thought, "How can I be useful to the souls of others?" If so, the Holy Spirit dwells in you, and God will put honor upon you. Encourage to the utmost of your power, the feeling produced by it, and think, purpose, eat, and live for the good of souls. This is the happy life. This is the useful life. This is the life that will bear reviewing from the sick bed, and from the dying pillow. O for grace, honestly to say, I live to save souls from eternal death!