Your soul is eternal. It will live forever. The world and all that it contains will pass away–firm, solid, beautiful, well-ordered as it is, the world will come to an end. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10). The works of statesmen, writers, painters, architects, are all short lived: your soul will outlive them all. The angel’s voice shall proclaim one day, that “There will be no more delay!” (Revelation 10:6). Try, I beg you, to realize the fact, that your soul is the one thing worth living for. It is the part of you which ought always be considered first. No place, no employment is good for you, which injures your soul. No friend, no companion deserves your confidence, who makes light of your soul’s concerns. The man who hurts you, your property, your character, only does you temporary harm. Your true enemy is the one who plots to damage your soul.
Think for a moment why you were born into the world. Not merely to eat and drink, and indulge the desires of the flesh, not merely to dress up your body, and follow its lusts wherever they may lead you, not merely to work, and sleep, and laugh, and talk, and enjoy yourselves, and think of nothing but time. No! you were meant for something higher and better than this. You were placed here to train for eternity. Your body was only intended to be a house for your immortal spirit. It is flying in the face of God’s purposes to do as many do–to make the soul a servant to the body, and not the body a servant to the soul.
Young men, God does not show favoritism or respects the honors bestowed by men. He rewards no man’s heritage, or wealth, or rank, or position. He does not see with man’s eyes. The poorest saint that ever died in a ghetto is nobler in His sight than the richest sinner that ever died in a palace. God does not look at riches, titles, education, beauty, or anything of the kind. There is only one thing that God does look at, and that is the immortal soul. He measures all men by one standard, one measure, one test, one criterion, and that is the state of their souls.
Do not forget this. Keep it in view, morning, noon, and night, the interests of your soul. Rise up each day desiring that your soul may excel, lie down each evening, inquiring of yourself whether you soul has really grown. Remember Zeuxis, the great painter of old. When men asked him why he labored so intensely, and took such extreme pains with every picture, his simple answer was, “I paint for eternity.” Do not be ashamed to be like him. Set your immortal soul before your mind’s eye, and when men ask you why you live as you do, answer them in his spirit, “I live for my soul.” Believe me, the day is fast coming when the soul will be the one thing men will think of, and the only question of importance will be this, “Is my soul lost or saved?”
J.C. Ryle “Thoughts for Young Men” See the entire article here. 1816 – 1900