"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."
- Philippians 2:4
I'm convinced that humanity is not inherently good or evil, but simply selfish. And how could we not be? We live inside our own bodies, experiencing our own individual emotions and lives in our own unique context. And that's not to say that we aren't capable of selfless acts (I think parents in particular know a thing or two about sacrifice), but being selfless just isn't our natural desire. And if you're not aware of your selfishness, how can you start to practice selflessness?
I guess I'm skipping the question of should we practice selflessness because I strongly believe that yes we absolutely should. I can think of only very rare situations where being selfish is a positive thing, and they are very extreme.
I believe with my whole heart that God calls us to be selfless, to show mercy to others, to sacrifice our wants for the needs of others. But in a culture that is so focused on self and the pursuit of happiness it becomes increasingly difficult set our focus outward rather than inward.
"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." - 1 Peter 3:8
I read an article today from the New York Times, obviously not a Christian article, but relevant to this idea none the less. It talked about post graduates and how we're thrown into a world with a lot of rhetoric about finding ourselves and self-fulfillment but very little practical advice or truth about our lives to come. We've become somewhat of a generation of aimless wanderers, haven't we? I've had the same conversations over and over with my friends who graduate and just don't know where to go next...
I've written a lot lately about surrender, and I believe that is a big part of this. I'm all for individuality and being the unique creation that you are and using your unique gifts, talents, and passions. Lord knows, I've been extremely independent my entire life. I've wandered, I've wondered.
But, in all our pursuits of finding ourselves and our identity, do we miss our true identity as a child of God? In all our pursuits of happiness do we miss out on the true lasting joy found only in Jesus Christ?
And whether you are a Christian or not, wouldn't the world be a better place if people put the needs and feelings of others over their own? (Hello Mother Theresa, Goodbye Hitler)
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." - Luke 6:35
I know not everyone agrees with this attitude, but I am passionate about this. And I fail, I know I fail frequently and act selfishly. But I pray, I practice, I acknowledge my failures and I try again. I truly hope that I can be a little less selfish everyday...