Sunday, November 17, 2013

To gain the whole world

I'm sure many of you have heard the song that goes something like this: "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do."  I looked at the lyrics to the song, and honestly, I don't really understand much of it past that opening line.  But I just want to focus on this first line, anyway.  

It's not very hard to realize the truth behind the words.  One really is the loneliest number.  To be one, to be alone, you are quite lonely.  There is no interaction with anyone else, there is no fun, no work, no play, no anything.  It's just you.  

But ironically, Satan has got the world convinced that the best way to be is alone.  He's got everyone thinking that they should always be by themselves.  "But Ben", you say, "what are you talking about?  Everyone around the world isn't alone.  Pretty much everyone has a family, or friends, or someone."  And you're right.  But I'm not talking about being one physically, being by yourself.  I'm talking about being alone emotionally.  I'm talking about your mind being focused on only one person: you.  

Does it make sense now?  How do you feel when all you think about is yourself?  When you're so wrapped up in what you "need" that you fail to see the needs of those around you; when you focus so much on your wants that you're oblivious to all that occurs around you.  This is true loneliness.  This way of thinking will only lead to sadness and misery.  

And yet Satan has us all convinced that the only way to happiness is to build yourself up!  It's always about us: get the best education so you can sell yourself, get the best job to make more money to buy things for yourself, etc.  

And yet what does the Savior say? In Matthew Christ says the following: 

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Christ teaches us that the only way to gain eternal life, to get eternal happiness, is to forget ourselves, to follow his example of loving and serving others.  I love the logic he uses in the last verse.  What profit do you get if you gain the whole world, and yet lose your soul?

I promise you that there is nothing you are striving for right now that is more important than your salvation.  There is nothing more important than following the Savior and exemplifying him.

That homework project that you've been working on for the past few hours?  It means nothing when compared to living the Gospel.  It is not worth giving up your spiritual time for the day just to finish a project.  
That project you've been meaning to get done around the house?  It is of no consequence when compared to the importance of your family's salvation.  It is not worth giving up the opportunity to teach a child or to love your spouse for a project you need to finish.  

That raise you've been putting in extra hours at work to get?  You will get an even greater reward by focusing first on building up God's kingdom.

I hope you all know that I am just as guilty of all this as you are.  We let the world take over our lives.  We just go with the flow, letting everything that we need to do take precedence over that which really matters.  And when we get to the end of the week, we realize "wow, all those things that I told myself last Sunday that I wanted to do during the week to stay spiritually where I want to be, I didn't do them!"  And so you recommit yourself, and then Monday hits (and we all know it hits hard) and we get lost in the myriad of things we have to do during the week, until we surface on Sunday to realize that we did the same thing all over again.  

And so, what is better?  To focus on ourselves, on the one, and build up our own treasures on earth?  Or to forget ourselves, to realize how lonely and sad it is with just one, and focus on building up everyone we come in contact with?  

My invitation to all of us is that we take just a moment, right now, to stop thinking about everything you have to do tomorrow.  Detach yourself from the world and all your responsibilities, and think about what is most important.  The only way to really gain your life is to lose it in service for the Lord. 

So take the time this week to love your family.  Give your brother that you haven't talked to in a while a call.  Tell your mom how much you appreciate how she raised you.  Sit by that one person in your class that everyone makes fun of, and help them out.  Make friends with that new coworker that just started work, help them to feel welcome.  Make cookies for that new family on the block.

Because, in reality, what does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

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