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Sermon #82: Why Do You Want to Live Long [The Source of Selflessness - Part 1]

On his deathbed a man laments, "I wish God would give me a new lease of life." Even people who are not Christians start to talk about God the moment they realize that they are dying.

When people celebrate the birthday of a loved one they say, "We wish you many more years." If somebody asked you how long you would live if you had a choice, you most probably would reply, "forever".

Generally, people want to live long. The aged want to live long; so do the young. People are generally agreed that it is better to live long than die early. They have managed to define what they yearn for.

I am clear about the what. But the picture can never be complete without the why.

While people normally define the what, very few go on to ask themselves why God should give them more years to live. This is regrettable. Life is not just about breathing, eating, talking and walking. It’s more than that. In reality, breathing is not life; it’s just one element that could be rendered useless if the other elements are out of step.

If you were dying today and you asked God to extend your life, upon which God requested you to convince Him of the need to grant your request, what would you give as your justification? "Why should I extend your life? What do you plan to do with the extra mileage?" What would be your response?

Several people have received extra mileage from God. Some people rise from their deathbeds to announce that God has given them a new lease of life. Unfortunately, some of them go on to squander the life on useless living!

If you get an opportunity, you've got to make the maximum of it; so says the word of God. Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV, says "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." That’s the point. It matters a lot what you do with the opportunities granted you in this life.

Some people have lived very short lives but have died better people than some of those who lived for a century. Just stop to consider this: you want more years going forward, but what have you done with the years that you've already spent? Looking back, would you conclude that you've used your time optimally, or there was a lot of waste involved? Do you want more distance so that you could do more of the same thing?

Let me tell you what I consider to be a life worth celebrating: it is a life that imparts a positive influence on the lives of others. It is a life devoted to service, serving others with a sincere heart. Exactly! I am quite convinced of this!

If you were to wholeheartedly say, "Please God, give me more years so that I will serve my folks," I am sure that God would grant you the request.

I am discussing the attribute called selflessness. You need to live a selfless life. A selfless life is a life full of value; it is a life that shines over the lives of others. It is a life worth celebrating.

Selflessness is a precious attribute, a noble one. Only reputable people can associate with this attribute. Selflessness is a position attained, not conferred. It is not like an honorary degree that is given to people without studying for it.

Jesus Christ is my role model. Oh how I love Him! When He walked the earth He demonstrated, through word and deed, what selflessness really means. Explaining His mission, Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" [John 10:10, NIV]. I love this attitude. I love people with this attitude - selfless people.

Selfless people often talk about "them". Selfless people often think about "them". Selfless people often use words like "they". They are fully concerned about the welfare of others. They've devoted their lives to this cause. That’s why I doubt the selflessness attributed to some people in our society.

Jesus did not come so that He might have life. He had life already; He was sitting pretty in Heaven! But He was concerned that the human race was perishing. So He came so that you and me might also have life - His life. He went through serious difficulties, but never gave up; He did it for "them", i.e. you and me.

Selfless people seek the best for others. Jesus Christ did not want us just to have life; the Word of God says He wanted us to have it to the full. Praise God!

Is that your attitude towards other people? If you are jealous of others, then you are not a selfless person. A person full of jealous wishes bad things for others; so does a person full of hatred. So it would not be proper to describe people with these attributes as selfless people.

You need the Christ-type spirit. You need to start talking the "them" and "they" language more. You should denounce every attribute of selfishness that might still be tucked somewhere in your spirit. It’s time for change, and the change should start with you. If you want to see a better society, you must be the starting point. First get better before you can demand it of others. Are you up to the challenge?

You might be wondering what the driving force behind selflessness is. "What drives people into selflessness? What gives people the ability to be selfless? What causes them to have a sincere desire to be so?" All these questions could be whirling up within you right now. But the most fundamental question that you should be asking yourself is: "How could I attain this status? How could I be truly selfless?" Yes, that’s an important question. I want you to think over the matter. I want you to form your own opinion about it.

I also want you to try and answer this question: "What is the single attribute without which one cannot be selfless?" The answer should be just one small word. Think over it. I will make sure that I give you a follow-up sermon on this. It's important.

See you then and be very expectant.