Jul 10, 2012
Selfishness has been the topic of late within our small group. While I cannot remember every point made in past discussions, I have been pondering the topic myself. Allow me to state this simply: I do not think it is possible to be 100% selfless. That's right, that's what I think.
Our discussions have reminded me of discussions we had in many of my psychology classes in college concerning the topic of altruism. If I am remembering correctly, we concluded that there was no true altruism because even in doing a good deed, something is gained by the doer, even if it is internal satisfaction. While there are multiple instances of people putting themselves in danger for the sake of another, the class concluded that the person, at the end of the day, would be proud of their day's accomplishment (and rightly so). In fact, as the discussion went on, we discussed every scenario imaginable where altruism may be present, but alas, none could be found.
And so it is with this concept of selfishness. You see, even when acting out of kindness and with another in mind, it feels good, to me. It brings me a great deal of joy to help someone else or to ease their burden a bit. While it may appear to be an act of selflessness, I still receive a reward.
Merriam Webster defines selflessness as having no concern for self. I believe it impossible to never have concern for one's self. We are all made up of selves, we are all individual little selves walking through this life. As long as I am involved, there will be no true, altogether, selfless act.
Philipians 2:2-4 says, "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
Even in following the directions of this verse, I still benefit. I benefit by becoming more like Christ. I benefit by loving others better and being considered a friend. I benefit because others have so much to teach. It would appear, I always benefit.
Yesterday, while running errands, I handed a homeless man some money and told him to make sure he got himself something to eat. While it may have seemed to be a selfish act, after having done so, I could not help but smile, and noticed an improvement in my own mood which carried over into other people I came into contact with. Clearly, it was not a selfless act.
We could, quite easily, be caught up in semantics, which is why I lean towards not speaking during these discussions (I know, shocking isn't it?). Or maybe, I tend to agree with Robert Benson as he writes in his book, The Body Broken, "We are not called to be right; we are called to be His. We are not called to be scholars; we are called to be students. We are not called to explain the Christ; we are called to follow the Christ. We are not called to build walls that keep his friends apart from each other; we are called to build the kingdom together."
Well said Robert, well said. Let us build the kingdom together so that we all may receive an eternal award. And yes, I am selfish, I want all of us (yes, even you) to be a part.