Friday, January 13, 2012

Selflessness: Meeting the Needs of Others

The fifth quality of agape love, selflessness, is very easy to understand. But before we get started, I don't want you to get selflessness and humility confused; they are two very different things. Humility is being authentic without pretense or arrogance. Selflessness is meeting the needs of others. It means you will serve others before serving yourself. It means meeting the needs of others even if it means doing so at the expense of fulfilling your own. Selflessness does require humility, but it isn't humility. You need to be humble in order to even be able to serve others first, but they are still two different things.

The basic concept of selflessness is to use your resources for the good of others. It's using your time, your money, your talents, and your spiritual gifts for the good of others. It's the epitome of extending, denying, and sacrificing yourself for others.

Now maybe this doesn't exactly sound very appealing. And I'll be up front with you: it isn't. It's not fun. It hurts. It takes a lot- if not everything- out of you. No one is naturally giddy when God calls them to sell all their possessions and give that money to the poor. It's really hard for missionaries to say goodbye to beloved friends, family, and their comfort zones and go live in a dirty, impoverished, disease-stricken foreign country. It's not easy for us to open our wallets to a person in need, especially when we, in our pride, believe they don't deserve the money (as if we ourselves deserve it). And it's even more impossible to get someone to committing their time to something. We'd rather spend our time making money or chilling out on the couch in front of a screen than to volunteer or do community work.

I'm not saying any of this judgmentally. I'm calling it like it is. I'm the same way. I'm a high school senior who has college and gas to pay for, and I'm saving up to hopefully be able to provide for a family of my own one day. I admit it takes some grease for my hands to willingly give money away to charities and ministries I don't know much about. I'm comfortable giving my money to my church and to World Vision (particularly the 30 Hour Famine), but it isn't easy for me to give money to other ministries. I tell myself that I like to know what my money is being used for. But I'm really just hiding behind greed. When I am not trusting God with my money and not giving it away, I'm really just telling God that I don't trust Him to provide for me.

And it's also hard for me to commit my time. I have classes and a job, and usually that's all I want to commit to. I don't like to overstretch myself. But in reality, I have plenty of free time to use to help others. I would rather spend my time at home watching TV or playing video games or hanging with friends than to use my time doing something with eternal value for Christ. I'm guilty of this just like I'm sure you are.

Do you believe you use your talents for the good of others? This question may take a little longer to answer. You first have to ask what your talents are. And you have to ask what you're doing right now for the good of others. If the answers to these two questions differ, then you aren't using your talents for the good of others. The Bible says, "...whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Col. 3:17). Whether you are a talented musician, a talented accountant, a talented pilot, a talented writer, a talented watchmaker, a talented computer geek, a talented interior/exterior designer, a talented businessman, a talented painter, a talented fashion designer, a talented athlete, a talented actor, or a talented chef, you should use your talents to honor God and to serve others. I'm sure we can all think of wonderful examples of people who could've used their talent to glorify themselves, but they instead used it to serve others. Kirk Cameron comes to my mind. If you don't know his story, I encourage you to check him out. Truett Cathy is another example I think of. He toiled for years and years in the restaurant business. He was an extremely hard worker. He could've kept all his money for himself and become stingy and selfish, but he just keeps looking for ways to bless others, particularly children, with his time, money, talents, and spiritual gifts.

And let's not forget spiritual gifts. I don't really have time to get into this topic, as it demands a post of its own, but I will tell you that every Christian has spiritual gifts. There are all kinds of different gifts. Some people are great encouragers, some are very wise and discerning, some are natural leaders, some are skilled at communicating God's love to the lost, and some have a way with humor. These are just a few examples of some gifts. But the thing about your gifts is that they only become a gift when you give them away. If you hold onto your gift and never give it away, you're missing out on an incredible opportunity to see how God can work through you. After all, it is better to give than to receive.

Proverbs 11:24-25 says, "One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

I hope that after reading this post, you'll be encouraged and inspired to live selflessly. It's my hope that you'll choose to give away your time, money, talents, and gifts. It will be hard. I know that from experience. But it's worth it. It is so worth it. It's worth it to see the smiles on their faces. It's worth it to know you've helped someone. It's worth it to know that you've done what God wanted. It's worth it o see God working through you. I dare you to fall in love with your followers. Fall in love with those under your power and influence. Look for ways to serve them. Look for ways to make them smile. Use your gifts to put a smile on their faces. I guarantee you that you don't know true joy until you make a habit of making others smile. There's no better feeling than knowing you've made someone smile with joy. Bring joy to others. Be selfless. Be Christ.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

This is a topic I have been thinking about for quite a while now. In the midst of striving towards academic goals I don't often have much time on hand for service-related projects, and I don't have much money.

But then I wonder if my ideas of being selfless are a little too broad. I can now see that selflessness is not learned through week-long mission trips or huge donations; it is learned through offering to help your sibling, visit your grandmother, your willingness to talk to the kid who sits next to you in class, to open a door, pick up something dropped, and so many other little things. That is how God is teaching me to be selfless.

Thanks for the encouragement. :)