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Selflessness

What unfathomable depths of truth are contained in the words, Christ also pleased not Himself" (Romans 15. 3)! This is the divinely inspired finding of one, the apostle Paul, who" had the mind of Christ " (1 Corinthians 2. 16).

It contains a full epitome of that wonderful life which should be the inspiration of every child of God. That life He commenced on earth with the words, "Lo, I am come to do Thy will, 0 God" (Hebrews 10.7), and closed with the confident affirmation, "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do" (John 17.4). It will do all much good to meditate, prayerfully, on the implications of this word.

Self-seeking or selfishness is humanity's greatest danger. It is the seed-plot for the growth of the many evils that abound in our day. It disrupts the family circle, it rends kingdoms asunder, but, saddest of all, it stagnates the flow of the loving purposes of God in this world by creating strife amongst the children of God. The brotherly advice of Joseph who could not refrain himself from weeping aloud was, to the sons of Jacob at the beginning of their sojourn in Egypt, " See that ye fall not out by the way" (Genesis 45.24). The sad appeal of the meek man Moses to two of their children even after the lessons of 400 years of affliction, was, "Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?"(Acts 7.26). How incorrigible is natural man!

We do not desire to spend too much time on the negative side of Christian experience, but we would remind ourselves that even the gain of the whole world by the natural self is worthless if it entails spiritual loss (Matthew 16.25). Selfishness is hurtful to self and to a man's fellows. Where egotism flourishes, spiritual life is dead.

But, "consider HIM ... that ye wax not weary, fainting in your souls " (Hebrews 12.3). The word to the Church of God in Rome was, "We ... ought ... not to please ourselves" (Romans 15. 1). The Corinthian believers, redeemed, some of them at least, from the dens of vice (1 Corinthians 6. 9-11) are later encouraged by the apostle Paul that "seeing we have this ministry, even as we obtained mercy, we faint not: but we have renounced the hidden things of shame " (2 Corinthians 4).

It may be harder to renounce worldly possessions. But we have divine instruction from the Master Himself in, "Take heed and keep yourselves from all covetousness." It will prove profitable to read Matthew 6.19-24, and Luke 12.18-34 in this connexion. Truly "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." The life is far greater than the material means needed to sustain it. The body, in which we live, is greater than the garments that cover it. And yet, around us men feed the outward life and starve the soul, adorn the body and disregard the "incorruptible apparel of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price." They store up treasure on earth, and are not rich toward God. The principle of self-abnegation is found in Matthew 19.12.

Had the rich young ruler of Luke 18 subordinated self and abandoned even his rightful possessions, because of love to God, and for the kingdom of God 5 sake, he would have received "manifold more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life " ! How inestimable is his loss, and of all such !

By sharing our lives as Christians with others, we receive more than we give. By fellowship and service "unto edifying" (Romans 15), our lives become the richer, the nobler, and the more blessed In fact, thus is realized the paradox of Mark 8.35, "for whosoever shall save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel's, shall save it." The dethronement of self is the beginning of moral and spiritual victory.

"Christ also pleased not Himself! " He had no home, no earthly possessions! He had to borrow a penny for an object lesson and command a fish to produce money for customs dues. He saved others-but Himself He could not save!

His life is our pattern. He did not complain, but endured the gainsaying of sinners. Difficulties He faced courageously, ills He endured steadfastly, persecution He heroically encountered, He was "obedient even unto death-yea, the death of the Cross." He revealed whither His subjection to His God led, namely" ... unto Jerusalem to suffer many things ... and be killed." He could say "If any man would come,, after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his

cross and follow Me " (Matthew 16. 24). Perhaps His closest follower was Paul, and he, writing to the Galatians (6.4) says, "Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." The Master is our IDEAL. His indeed was a life of perfect self-restraint complete self-mastery, with no defects, well-balanced, evenly proportioned ... a life which had as its object the GLORY of God. This too should be our aim, "that with one accord ye may with one mouth GLORIFY the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 15).

That GLORY should accrue from the marvels - of creation from Immanuel's hands is understandable, but we bow in awe and adoration as we" behold Him ... even Jesus because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour," and as we realize that in bringing many sons to glory, the self-same hands were nailed to a cursed cross.

The ultimate end of a life of self-denial is victory! " In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Romans 8.3). It is written, " CHRIST also pleased not Himself!