Vol.XVIII No.VI Pg.1
August 1981

Value Of The Patient

Robert F. Turner

What is my goal as a preacher? It frightens me to think that it may be to "preach" rather than to save souls. Isn't that a cruel self-examination?

But there could well be a doctor whose goal is to be a great physician and who thinks but little of healing the patients who come to him. Or a school teacher who gets a great kick out of teaching, but is not too concerned about students learning. Even a pupil, determined to make straight As for the grade's sake, rather than for the usefulness of information and wisdom. Each of these do the right things, but for the wrong reasons. The doctor who prides himself in correct diagnosis, and in techniques and medications that go with such a decision, will heal a lot of people. An apt teacher will impart much information; and a diligent student will gather and store much of it. But each has become a mechanical cog in a wheel without a soul. A dehumanizing process is at work, turning God's creatures into numbers and computer symbols, destroying the greater reason for ministering, teaching, study.

The goal of the professional professor (if you follow me) becomes self-serving. He offers something to others, but only because this is essential to his self-gratification.

Those who make charts of man's progress from the primeval slime may see the competent doctor, teacher or student as a credit to civilization; and, at this stage there are few who would question that evaluation. But squint your eyes a bit, and look off into the sky, and you may see someone who would loose a patient, discourage a student, or cheat on a test if the choice is between self and some higher goal. This is a wild dog in a full dress suit — fancy, but still a dog.

Man was made in God's image, but little lower than angels (Psm .8). He was intended to glorify his Maker, to be God's heritage (Eph. 1:11). Even when he fails (in sin) God's grace makes this final end possible through Jesus Christ. Next to loving God, we have no higher goal than loving God's creatures (Matt. 22:36-40). I must make the salvation of other souls the passionate driving motive of my life.