Breaking with Sin
1 Peter 4:1-6
In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, William Borden's parents gave their 16-year-old son a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary."
One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."
In response, Borden wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves."
Even though young Borden was wealthy, he arrived on the campus of Yale University in 1905 trying to look like just one more freshman. Very quickly, however, Borden's classmates noticed something unusual about him and it wasn't that he had lots of money. One of them wrote: "He came to college far ahead, spiritually, of any of us. He had already given his heart in full surrender to Christ and had really done it. We who were his classmates learned to lean on him and find in him a strength that was solid as a rock, just because of this settled purpose and consecration."
During his college years, Bill Borden made an entry in his personal journal that defined what his classmates were seeing in him. That entry said simply: "Say 'no' to self and 'yes' to Jesus every time."
During his first semester at Yale, Borden started something that would transform campus life. Borden began a small morning prayer group which gave birth to a movement that soon spread across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150 freshmen were meeting weekly for Bible study and prayer. By the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale's 1,300 students were meeting in such groups.
Borden made it his habit to seek out the most "incorrigible" students and try to bring them to salvation. Borden's outreach ministry, however, was not confined to the Yale campus. He cared about widows and orphans and the disabled. He rescued drunks from the streets of New Haven. To try to rehabilitate them, he founded the Yale Hope Mission.
Borden's missionary call narrowed to the Muslim Kansu people in China. Fixing his eyes on that goal, Borden never wavered.
Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to "realize always that he must be about his Father's business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement." Although Borden refused to join a fraternity, "he did more with his classmates in his senior year than ever before." He presided over the huge student missionary conference held at Yale and served as president of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa.
Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. In his Bible, Bill Borden wrote two more words: "No retreats."
William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.
When the news of William Whiting Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Taylor in her introduction to his biography.
Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. Prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in the back of his Bible. Underneath the words "No reserves" and "No retreats," is written the words: "No regrets."
In our passage from 1 Peter 4:1-6, Peter exhorts us to take this attitude of Christ for ourselves and thus live as did Borden, saying ‘no’ to self and ‘yes’ to Jesus. And in case you aren’t sure you could do this, Peter provides several incentives to encourage you to live with ‘no reserves,’ ‘no retreats,’ and ultimately, ‘no regrets.’ Join us this Lord’s Day as we consider the call to follow God’s will for our lives and to break with sin.
For His Glory,
Quotations taken from Borden of Yale 09, by Geraldine Guinness Taylor (Philadelphia: China Inland Mission, 1927)