We value articles in proportion to their usefulness—those which are of small utility are little sought, those of the greatest utility are in constant demand and have a recognized value at all times and everywhere. Of course there are exceptions to this general rule, where the value is placed upon the beauty or rarity of an article, quite apart from the question of usefulness.
In regard to human life, however, the rule holds good—the useful life is the one of value—the useless one is nothing worth. Its record is one of wasted time and neglected opportunity.
It is no small thing to be of use in our day and generation, for it means that we have helped the world at large, in however small a degree. It is not given to the many to attain notoriety or to accomplish great and stirring deeds; but it is given to all to assist in the superstructure of Life by the faithful performance of duty, the honest effort to support the right, and the helping of others.
If we wish to be useful and helpful, be sure the opportunity will not be lacking—it is only when we are indifferent that we appear isolated, and our sphere of influence is small and limited.
If it can be written truly on a man’s gravestone "He lived a useful life," it is no small tribute.
Selfishness and indolence are the two great foes of Usefulness, and must be rooted out if we are to succeed in being useful. They are insidious foes, and once encouraged will gain steadily in their power until finally we are powerless to resist them. We have to fight them, and fight them constantly with the weapons of Aspiration and Activity, and in proportion as we gain the mastery, so will our usefulness increase, and our opportunities for doing good multiply.
Life is short, time flies. Let us be up and doing, and above all let us shun, as we would shun poison, the tendency to drift into an easy and luxurious mode of life, with folded hands and wasted hours—for we must be faithful stewards—ready and willing to render an account of our doings, and ever ready to realize our responsibilities. Life is ours on these conditions—it remains for us to use it for its best and highest purposes, and not to hold it lightly as for our amusement or self-seeking, for to do so is to miss its whole purpose and meaning. Remember the parable of the talents—its meaning holds good today, and is a weighty one indeed.