The name Mark Donaldson may mean something to you. In January 2009, the Victoria cross medal was given to Mark for acts of bravery at war. It was awarded for the first time in Australia for 40 years. Quite remarkable really. Mark was a SAS soldier serving in Afghanistan fighting for his country and his convoy came under heavy fire from Taliban militants.
But what he did next was extraordinary. It was September 2008, and he risked his own life. He saw an Afghani interpreter lying on the ground, and Mark ran across 80 metres of open ground, while being fired upon. He carried this interpreter to safety. This courageous deed saved the man’s life. Mark Donaldson was asked why he did such a thing. And he humbly replied “I’m a soldier. It’s instinct and it’s natural .. I just saw him there. I went over there and got him. That was it”.
What You Can Do with your Life
Now, that is not natural behaviour for an average person. By any stretch of the imagination, what that trooper did was brave, unselfish, and amazing. He risked his own life to save another man who had no hope against enemy fire.
There are three things you can do with your life:
- you can waste it
- you can spend it, or
- you can invest it.
The best use of your life is to invest your life in something that will outlast it. For our men and women in combat, they are investing their life and years in defence of their country – to save lives, even putting their own lives at risk. Some, of course, are killed. The worst thing you can do is to live simply for today and to live for yourself.
I love what the New Testament says from the mouth of Paul the apostle. In Philippians 2:3-4, he writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.”
Genuinely Loving Others
In other words, be genuinely concerned about others. Our world and local community is in desperate need of people prepared to genuinely love others, putting others before themselves. Things happen when you’re genuinely concerned about others.
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- First of all, you begin to forget your own problems. We seldom realise that. We think that when I’m having trouble, I need to do something just for me, something extravagant, or indulgent. But that’s not the answer. The Bible teaches us, and psychologists are learning that the quickest way to get rid of our troubles is to become involved in helping someone else. The prophet Isaiah knew that a long time ago.
Isaiah 58:10-12 says, “If you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs…and…strengthen your frame.”
- Secondly, when you’re genuinely concerned about others, you’ll find that when you’re in trouble, others will be good friends to you. They respect you and are grateful for what you did, and will want to reciprocate your actions by offering to help you. And that’s very nice.
Finding One of the Great Secrets
There is an amazing scene at the end of the 1996 movie Marvin’s Room. Bessie, played by Diane Keaton, has cared for her ill father and her aunt for 20 years. After learning that she has leukaemia, she receives a visit from her estranged sister Lee, played by Meryl Streep.
Bessie tells Lee, “I’ve been lucky to have had so much love in my life.” Lee says yes, her father and her aunt really do love her. Bessie seems taken aback for a moment. Her sister doesn’t understand. Bessie doesn’t mean she’s lucky to be loved. She means she is lucky to have had so much love to give to others. You may say, I can’t love everybody or risk my life everyday. No, it’s not possible in your own strength.
But when you surrender your life to Jesus Christ, his love is poured into your life through the Holy Spirit. It’s he who does the impossible. You may not feel like living for others, or loving others in a genuine way—but God can do it for you. That’s the essence of Christianity.
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote:
Do not waste your time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour—act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.