Choosing the Christian value of unselfishness
Amidst the popular creed of “what’s in it for me” that drives commercialism, and the must-have notions about striving for personal success, Christians can provide a much needed contrast. We have the calling to live a life of “it’s all about Thee”; and give up our self-preoccupation that is inherently sinful.
Yet if there’s one thing that we find difficult about adopting Christian values, it is the fundamental requirement of having to stop being self-centered; difficult when the basic instinct is for our defensive barriers go up to protect the “self”; especially when we are surrounded by selfish worldly messages, and the promotion of self-importance and self-indulgence. It's hard becoming more “people focused” and generous towards others, when our selfish inclination doesn’t like giving up and missing out on things for itself.
Our selfishness ends with a simple act of volition, the incredible power of the choice to change, and the ongoing will to make those changes a reality. Our choice is to be like our role model of perfection; the self-less life of Jesus Christ. His example, coupled with the Bible’s teachings on love, serve as an eye-opener to the virtues and benefits of reducing sselfishness.
Jesus was unselfish in dying for us. Followers of Christ are expected to nurture and practice the quality of unselfishness on a daily basis. For us, taking up the cross means dying to sin, and selfishness can be very sinful. The inner urges that make us focus on self will challenge even the most faithful follower. We may think that selfish people are just a bit annoying because they are reluctant to share, but selfish people can also think themselves superior, have issues with authority, and become arrogant or boastful. These are the enormous issues related to selfishness, and the Bible has a lot to say about them.
About 2,000 years ago, the Apostle Paul summed up what selfishness is like when he stated: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.” (2 Timothy 3:2 NIV)
Selfishness lies at the core of our corrupted nature and many of the world’s problems. In story after story, and report after report, the news media shows us that rather than heed the advice of teachers, law-makers, doctors and parents; many people who are driven by personal needs, do things that are ultimately risky, foolish, undisciplined, illegal or immoral; turning the six o’clock news into an hour of shameful horrors.
Put simply, sefishness benefits ourselves; unselfishness benefits other people. The type of people driven by selfishness far out-number those driven by unselfishness. How one lives, thinks, and even speaks; all depends on which side of the “self-line” one takes up residence. It is the character traits bred by selfishness (such as pride, greed, lust and laziness) in comparison to those that are born of unselfishness (such as humility, generosity, trustworthiness and empathy), that highlight the virtuous benefits of becoming less self-centred. To that end, it is the choice and goal of the Christian to do away with all selfishness in order to facilitate living a godly life like that of Christ, that is of benefit to others.
Outlined below with some Biblical examples, are the key traits that highlight the vast differences between those who focus on self, and those who choose to make it less about self and more about benefiting God and others.