‘Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours’

LewisBut there must be a real giving up of the self. You must throw it away ‘blindly’, so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real personality: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own personality is what you are bothering about you are not going to Him at all. The very first step is to try to forget about the self altogether. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is his) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come to you when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Book 4, Chapter 11 ‘The New Men’.


2 thoughts on “‘Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours’

  1. Andrew H.

    It has been years since I read this passage, though I vaguely remembered it. Now that I am more of a musician (i.e., I improvise, and compose a little) I can appreciate the sentence about telling the truth “without caring twopence how often it has been told before.” This is absolutely true, and something they certainly do not teach in the music schools.

  2. Tim Chesterton

    Indeed, Andrew, as a traditional folk musician I feel the same way – when I simply dedicate myself to passing on the songs as best I can – maybe changing a word here or there to make them more understandable – and creating the best possible accompaniment, whether or not it sounds like what others have done – that’s always when I feel best about what I’ve done. On the other hand, when I’m consciously trying to ‘make the song mine’, in the long run I never feel good about it.

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