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WHEN TO SAVE A DROWNING MAN
Watchman Nee tells the story of his stay in China with twenty other Christians. The bathing accommodations were inadequate in the home where they were lodging, so they went for a daily dip in the river.
On one occasion, one of the men got a cramp in his leg and began sinking fast. Mr. Nee motioned to one of the other men, who was an excellent swimmer, about the drowning man. To his astonishment, however, the man did not move. He just stood there and watched the drowning man.
Mr. Nee was agitated, but the swimmer was calm and collected. Meanwhile, the voice of the drowning man grew fainter and more desperate. Mr. Nee hated the swimmer who just stood and watched on the shore when he could have jumped into the river and rescued the drowning man. As the drowning man went under for what looked like the last time, the swimmer was there in a moment, and both were soon safely on shore.
After the rescue, Mr. Nee chewed out the swimmer, accusing him of loving his life too much and being selfish. The response of the swimmer revealed, however, he knew what he was doing. He told Watchman that if he had gone too soon, the drowning man would have put a death grip on him and they would have both drowned in the river, and he was right. He told Mr. Nee that a drowning man cannot be saved until he is utterly exhausted and ceases to make the slightest effort to save himself.
Such is the case with our salvation. When we stop trying to save ourselves, then the Lord can step in and save us when we yield to Him. When you see the struggle that is a sign that you’re sensitive to sin and that is where God can help you.
(From a sermon by Daniel Darling, The Monster Inside - Saying No To Yourself, 2/1/2011)
Sermon Central Staff
One day Hudson Taylor was traveling on a Chinese junk from Shanghai to Ningpo. He had been witnessing to a man named Peter who rejected the gospel but was under deep conviction. In the course of events, Peter fell overboard, but no one made any effort to save him. Taylor sprang to the mast, let down the sail, and jumped overboard in hopes of finding his friend. But no one on board joined Taylor in his frantic search. Taylor saw a fishing boat nearby and yelled to them to help, but they wouldn't do it without money. Finally, after bartering for every penny that Taylor had, the fishermen stopped their fishing and began to look for Peter. In less than a minute of dragging their net, they found him, but it was too late. They were too busy fishing to care about saving a drowning man.
We can easily condemn the selfish indifference of those fishermen, but by indicting them, we may condemn ourselves. Are we too busy with our jobs and other activities to take the time to rescue those who are perishing without Christ?
(Kenneth Cole, The Crucial Message. From a sermon by Gerald Flury, Why Are You Standing Around? 8/16/2012)
The whole area of service is a very important one in the Christian life. The importance can be seen in the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea in the Holy Land. The two bodies of water are connected by the Jordan River in a direct north-south line along the Great Rift Valley. Clear, sweet water from underground springs flows into the Sea of Galilee. And the Sea of Galilee flows south into the Jordan. Galilee is a gorgeous, active lake, full of life that has sustained fishermen in the region for millennia. The Dead Sea, by contrast, is a shallow, selfish basin with no outlet. It hoards the water that flows into it. Some water evaporates, leaving behind brackish, clouded water so dense that swimmers bob like corks. The whole sea is dead.
When we as Christians have no outlet of service, we too can become spiritually dead, and stagnant. Instead of our faith being attractive, life giving and fruitful, we become as off-putting as a stagnant pond.
UNSELFISH AND HAPPY
A fascinating study on the principle of the Golden Rule was conducted by Bernard Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research. Rimland found that "The happiest people are those who help others."
Each person involved in the study was asked to list ten people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy. Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness: a stable tendency to devote one’s time and resources to one’s own interests and welfare--an unwillingness to inconvenience one’s self for others."
In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those "whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness...are far less likely to be happy than those whose effor...
Corinthians 13 written by a South African Pioneer:Read the following paraphase of 1
"If I have the language perfectly and speak like a native, and have not His love for them, I am nothing. If I have diplomas and degrees and know all the up-to-date methods, and have not His touch of understanding love, I am nothing. If I am able to argue successfully against the religions of the people and make fools of them, and have not His wooing note, I am nothing. If I have all faith and great ideals and magnificent plans, and not His love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads, I am nothing. If I give my clothes and money to them, and have not His love for them, I am nothing.
If I surrender all prospects, leave home and friends, make the sacrifices of a missionary career, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyancesand slights of a missionary life, and have not the love that yields its rights, its leisures, its pet plans, I am nothing. Virtue has ceased to go out of me. If I can heal all manner of sickness and disease, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of His love that is kind, I am nothing. If I can write articles or publish books that win applause, but fail to transcribe the Word of the Cross into the language of His love, I am nothing."
We need God’s help on a daily basis. I came across a little prayer in a parish magazine, headed: "A Morning Prayer for Help" - note that I said "morning"! "Dear God, so far today I’ve done alright, I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty, selfish or over indulgent. But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get."
Bedouin camel drivers in the mid-East understand how relationships can get out-of-balance this way. Camels are notoriously moody. Their selfish ways are legendary.
From time to time a camel-driver senses his camel is fed-up with the owner. Wanting to head-off an explosion, the owner will hand his own outer coat to the camel. The camel will bite, spit-at, and trample the coat into the desert floor, until all that is left is a thread or two. Once the camel’s anger is spent, the relationship can get back on balance.
James Hudson Taylor in challenging English students during his time to be involved in China mission work, used to tell of the story about Peter, his Chinese convert and disciple. On one of their sea journeys, Peter (who do not know how to swim) fell from the side of the boat. Fortunately, there were fishermen nearby, just a grab away from where Peter fell. Taylor shouted at the fishermen and asked them to help his friend, “Hey, help my friend, he is drowning.” However, the fishermen did not bother to do his call for help because they were busy loading their catch from the net to their boat. Taylor continued to yell, “Stop what you are doing, and help my friend. He is just a grab away.” But the fishermen continued on their work until the last fish was loaded to the boat. Then they jumped and got Peter out of water. They tried to revive him, but to no avail. Peter died of drowning. He could have been saved because he was just a grab away from the fishermen. Then, he asked the students/church members what they thought of about the Chinese...
I sat down one day and began to think about what word I would choose if I could only choose one word to describe myself; one word which would describe me better than any other word.
Many words immediately began to pour into my mind. I could think of so many aspects of my life that I could highlight.
Thinker, I thought. I love to sit and think just for the sake of thinking; to ponder just for the sake of pondering. After all, it was pondering that led me to this exercise in the first place. But as I thought further, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Emotional, perhaps. I am a very emotional person. At times it is as though the moon controls my emotions as it controls the ocean’s tide: high, low, high low. Only, the tide’s changing from high to low is more predictable. Yes, I am certainly emotional. But once again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Lover. I love many things: people, nature, having fun. Yes, I do love many things. However, I do not always love. Sometimes, I even hate. I don’t intend to hate, but still, sometimes I do. So again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Artist. I enjoy art. I enjoy writing, drawing, and singing. I am not good, but I am not bad either. Art sometimes acts as a way of escape for me. Yet, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Passionate. I am very passionate. I am passionate about sports, hobbies, God, and many other things. My voice reflects my passion. But even my passion fails me. So I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Then I thought, “Why have all the words so far been positive?” I am not always positive. I am sometimes negative. Maybe a negative word would describe me best.
Cynical. What can be more negative that being negative? For sometimes-negative me, this seemed like a good solution. Sometimes I only see the negative side of a situation. Yes, cynical could be it. But I realized that I should not choose a word that describes me sometimes. Sometimes I am negative. But sometimes I am positive too. Sometimes the cup is half empty. But sometimes it is half full. So again, I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Imperfect. I am not perfect. In fact, I am far from it. I make mistakes like everybody else. Yes, like everybody else, I am imperfect. But everyone is imperfect. Did I really want to choose this word to describe myself? No, absolutely not. I decided that though this word may describe me, it simply could not be the best solution.
Sinner. I am certainly a sinner. I was born with a bent toward sin. When I was young, I was selfish with my toys. As I grew older, I grew deeper into sin, and thus further away from God. Sometimes I still sin. After all, I am imperfect. I thought this could certainly be the best choice. But something about it made me uncomfortable in choosing it. Then it hit me. Years ago, I had traded this word to describe myself for a better one.
Redeemed. Yes, I was once a sinner, but through God’s grace and mercy through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed. The songwriter wrote, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it…” I must agree. I do love to proclaim it. Thus, this is the word that I choose to describe myself.
I am Redeemed!!!
In the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, the guy who does “You might be a Redneck if…” is this useful list, “You might be selfish if...” So, just listen, and you judge whether or not this sounds like you. If so, you might be selfish.
You might be selfish if…
• You have a genuinely difficult time letting someone else have the remote control
• You pick up the last piece of chicken, take a bite out of it, hold it up and say, “Does anybody want this?”
• You know all the words to the song “I Did It My Way.”
• You have a lifetime subscription to “Self” magazine
• You rush to be the first in line at a funeral procession
• Your favorite picture at home is the mirror
• You’re on a date and say, “Enough talk about me…let’s talk about what you think of me.”
• You’re a baby, a toddler, a preadolescent, a teenager, or an adult male or female