Some of us are extroverts. Socially, we cannot be contained. We are the life of the party, the shakers and movers in this world. Then there are those of us who tend towards being introverts. We like our privacy. We don’t like being in the public spotlight, and we value our alone time. Today I want to speak to both groups, and all those who fit in between. I would like to posit that sharing, getting outside of ourselves, for the welfare of another person, is actually a godly attribute that we all need to develop, even the extroverts.
Christ taught in Luke 9:24 that there are conditions attached to being saved in the kingdom of God. He put it this way:
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
The Lord has always loved a good verbal puzzle, saying something that is both plain, to the point, and very confusing all at once. It is sort of like his statements about the first being last, and the last being first, or calling good evil and evil good. He loves to play with the opposites we all have to deal with in mortality. Let’s take a look at verse 24 by dividing it into three parts.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:”
Selfishness can be displayed equally by the introvert and the extrovert. As long as we have, and demonstrate, a desire that everything be about us, making us the center of attention, it doesn’t matter if the person is socially shy or aggressive.
Let’s say I like my privacy. I don’t spend time getting involved with my neighbors. I don’t talk to them or help them with anything, and I prefer they not meddle in my life so I can come and go as I please. This is selfish behavior. It is all about me and what I want. No one benefits from selfish behavior.
Now let’s say I am all about being the center of attention and am in my neighbor’s business all the time. I may know everything that is happening on my block. I may know everyone’s name and habits, both good and bad. I may have even convinced some of them I am their friend, because if I hadn’t, they wouldn’t have spilled the beans about their personal
habits and their family secrets. I may be involved in the lives of others, but my involvement is still completely selfish and self-serving.
When the Lord talks about people saving their own lives, and then warns that such behavior will, in the end cause them to lose their lives, He is talking about the focus of their lives. Is my life’s focus on me, or is it on someone else. The Lord says that if my daily focus is on me, on what I want, and only on my personal goals and desires, then the life I have worked so hard to save or create will ultimately be lost.
So what is lost and what is saved? Everything we do in the gospel of Christ is centered on the goal of returning home to live with our Father in Heaven once again. If we achieve that goal then we will become like Christ and share in all that the Father has, including eternal increase, everlasting glory and progression through the eternities.
This returning home to be with God once again is what is meant by saving our lives. Currently we are lost. We have sinned, or broken his laws. Eternal justice bans us from His presence, since he cannot tolerate sin with the least degree of allowance. Our efforts in mortality to make everything about how comfortable we can be or how important we can feel only leads to losing out on the greatest of all the gifts of God, eternal life in His presence.
As long as we focus on pleasing ourselves, making life easier for ourselves, or building our mortal nest egg so we can have what we want in mortality, we lose the grand prize, life in the eternities with Christ, the Father, and our family.
“but whosoever will lose his life for my sake”
This is the first half of the last part of the verse. Jesus gives us a condition, a caveat that decides whether we will get the joy we seek. He says that if we do good, it has to be for the right reason.
When I say that a man who tries to save his own life will lose it, I mean that those who spend all their energies on trying to get what they want for themselves loses out on all the eternal blessings of the celestial kingdom. His life is lost to the joys of eternal bliss with God.
If we want to enjoy that promised bliss, the good we do in this life must be done for others while in the service of our God. We can’t just be good to other people. We need to be good to them in order to demonstrate the love of God in our own lives. Our service needs to be a reflection of our own gratitude for the love God has shown us.
“but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
This is the promise – if we do good to others because of our love for the Lord and His purposes, then and only then will the life we want in the eternities become possible. It isn’t enough to just do good. Doing good must be done because of the love we bear for Christ and the Father. We must lose ourselves in service to others, just as Christ so fully gave of himself for us.
Jesus wasn’t doing good because it would score him points in the hereafter. He wasn’t doing good because it made him socially popular. His goodness was born from a love of his Father in Heaven, and out of his love for us. He lost himself in his service for us. We were all that mattered to him.
What saved Jesus will also save us. If we can learn to turn our focus from looking inside to looking outside, we can receive the same eternal blessings He received. What do we need to learn to share with others?
All godly attributes are either shared or they are lost. Think of any godly attribute, like love, tolerance, patience, long suffering, virtue, honesty, integrity, etc. Every one of these virtues is demonstrated and grown by how we demonstrate them and use them in dealing with others. I cannot develop patience in a bubble. Patience requires dealing with other people. I cannot develop honesty by myself. I must show and demonstrate honest in the presence of others to develop it in myself. It becomes the manner in which I live my life. The same goes for virtue, or integrity. All these good things require that we interact with others to learn the saving virtues that make us holy.
Can you imagine trying to learn charity behind the walls of your own home when there is just you and your pet goldfish? Charity requires us to be actively involved in the lives of other people, and involved for the right reasons.
Even testimonies have to be shared in order to grow and strengthen into unshakable faith. We cannot develop any godly attribute without sharing what we have with someone else out of our love for God and His Son. To think that we can do it any other way is like believing we can become a great speaker by just reading about great speakers, but never taking the time or making the effort to try to move people with our words. It can’t be done. We need involvement with each other in order for any of us to grow.
Many of us don’t really think about what we do on a minute-by-minute basis. We especially don’t think about why we do or don’t do something on an ongoing basis. But if we want to become like our Father in Heaven, Christ has shown us the way.
We must not only choose to develop a particular virtue, but we must find a way to do it in as loving a way as possible. We need to learn to act for the welfare of others out of a deep and abiding gratitude for what Christ has done for us. Only in this way will we learn what it means to live a selfless and virtuous life. Only in this way will we be able to save our lives because we learned how sweet it is to lose our lives, ourselves, in the service of others.
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Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.