“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists among us the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
I recently searched the Internet for the most selfless people in history. As I looked through online discussions, I discovered a lot of people consider Saint Mother Teresa, Saint John Paul II, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and Mahatma Ghandi, Oskar Schindler as excellent examples of selflessness. Each of them received little reward in spite of making tremendous contributions.
Christ’s kingdom calls us to a life of modelling selflessness. Jesus told his disciples that anyone who would follow him would have to be willing to set aside their own ideas of satisfaction in order to follow the way of the cross.
Do we take the time to search our own souls to appreciate what that means?
What is the true meaning of selflessness?
Devoted to others’ welfare or interests and not one’s own; unselfish; altruistic. Showing or prompted by unselfishness or altruism; self-sacrificing. a selfless act. Concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.
“The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Luke 1:26-38Amplified Bible
Jesus’ Birth Foretold
26 Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth’s pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin [a]betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was greatly perplexed at what he said and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and eminent and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin and have no intimacy with any man?” 35 Then the angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a cloud]; for that reason the holy (pure, sinless) Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And listen, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible.” 38 Then Mary said, “[b]Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel left her.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.” ― St. Francis of Assisi
Selflessness brings out the best in others.
It builds relationships.
What does it mean to be selfless?
It means you think a little less of yourself and a little more of others.
The opposite of selflessness is selfishness.
It’s the number one cause of conflict and arguments.
The Bible says,
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it” (James 4:1-2 NIV).
Self-centeredness destroys relationships.
The problem is, being selfish is human nature.
We naturally think about our interests, our hurts, how we look, and how we feel.
Even culture tells us:
“Do what you think is best for you.” But the Bible says, “Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” (Philippians 2:4 GNT).
What happens when you and I
“only look out for one another’s interests, not just exclusively for your own”?
Not only will it transform the moment – but it will also transform you and me!
Not only will it transform our relationships—it will transform people.
Not only will it transform people – but it will transform neighborhoods.
Not only will it transform neighborhoods – but it will transform communities.
Not only will it transform communities – but it’ll transform cities and beyond.
It causes the other person to change because you are not the same person anymore, allowing them to relate to you and me in a radically different way.
I’ve seen it many times: When you treat cranky, unlikable people with kindness, instead of treating them the way they deserve, they transform into nice people.
The greatest lesson in life is learning to how and why we ought to be unselfish—but it won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take the rest of your life.
The good news is, God doesn’t leave you all alone to learn how to be selfless. Romans 8:26 says, “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness” (NLT).
To live life selflessly in the service of others is noble.
Never stop making the effort to be more selfless.
God’s Spirit is with you and me to help us break free of the destructive cycle of selfishness! And it’s then will you see transformation in all your relationships.
God’s neighborhood calls us to a life of selflessness.
Rabbi Jesus frequently told his disciples that anyone who would follow him into His Father’s neighborhood to serve their neighbors would have to be willing to set aside their own ideas of satisfaction in order to follow the way of the cross.
Mary demonstrated this kind of unconditional self-sacrifice when she was told she had found “true favor with God” and would be the mother of the Messiah.
She seemed to immediately understand that this path would bring her trouble and heartache, but when the angel reassured her that God was using her to be part of his divine plan, she submitted, saying that she was the Lord’s servant.
To be saved by Christ includes an unmistakable call to serve beyond oneself.
Christ’s model of unconditional selflessness in becoming human, suffering the indescribable indignity of unconditionally loving, living in a sinful world, and joyously submitting to death on a cross for our sake, for his enemy’s sake, was not intended to give us a life of personal leisure without concern for others.
Our lives exclusively in Christ has an unsearchable meaning that goes echelons beyond our exclusive personal benefit as we seek to be part of his greater plan.
- Think about God’s Neighborhood. Think about a relationship in your life. In what ways do you act with selfish and selfless motives in that relationship?
- What neighborly selfless act can you do today that is uncharacteristic of you?
- Has someone ever acted selflessly toward you when you didn’t deserve it? How did it impact you? How did it impact them and too the neighborhood of God?
- What would you do in life if you lived to model, like Christ, a truly selfless life?
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
God, my Rock and my Salvation, my Guide and my Guardian, guide me this day according to Your will, help me become a genuine servant of my neighbors. A servant entering your neighborhood, whose life is a worthy example to others.
Give me courage, Father, to claim the spiritual riches that You have promised, and show me Your plan for my life, today and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.