Music and the Spoken Word

The Divine Measure of a Life - Sunday, September 1, 2019

Have you ever wondered how to measure your life? With a ruler or tape measure, we can determine how tall or wide something is, but how can we measure the depth and breadth of a life? What are the markers of significance, of success, of fulfillment along the road of life?

Some measure success by how much wealth a person accumulates. That’s an easy measurement, but usually an inaccurate one. We might instead equate hard work with a successful life. And yet while honest labor is honorable, it’s possible to work hard at the wrong things.

Over a hundred years ago, orator and statesman William Jennings Bryan offered this standard of measurement:

“Service,” he said, “is the measure of greatness; … he is greatest who does the most of good.” He went on to observe that “nearly all of our controversies … grow out of the fact that we are trying to get something from each other—there will be peace when our aim is to do something for each other. … The human measure of a human life is its income; the divine measure of a life is its outgo, its overflow—its contribution to the welfare of all.” 1

In describing this divine standard of greatness, Bryan was simply echoing the Lord Himself, who said, in effect, “If you want to find yourself, first lose yourself in the service of others.”2 In other words, self-fulfillment is the wrong measuring stick. When you improve the world around you, that’s when you find out how well you’re doing at life.

And improving the world doesn’t always mean going far from home. Look around you and you will find countless ways to contribute “to the welfare of all.” Every selfless thought moves the needle. Every act of kindness and love, no matter how small, carries significant weight in these scales of greatness. This is a higher way to live. This is “the divine measure of a life” well lived.

1 The Prince of Peace (1914), 52–53.
2 See Mark 8:35; Luke 17:33.
September 1, 2019
Broadcast Number 4,694

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square

Measure of Life

Mack Wilberg
Ryan Murphy

Andrew Unsworth

Lloyd Newell

Let All the World in Every Corner Sing
Ryan Murphy

Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
Frederic A. Challinor; arr. Ryan Murphy

Achieved Is the Glorious Work, from The Creation
Franz Joseph Haydn

Prelude on “Middlebury”
Dale Wood

I Whistle a Happy Tune, from The King and I
Richard Rodgers; arr. Sam Cardon

I’m Runnin’ On
African American spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg

Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends
English melody; arr. Mack Wilberg