How can I be more unselfish?
PEOPLE talk about unselfishness as being rare. And yet when you look around, you can probably identify lots of signs of unselfishness. Are helpfulness and kindness natural to some people and not to others?
According to the Bible, God equips us with all that we need in order to do good, and this applies to everyone. Paul writes, ``God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.''1
Whether it is kindness, generosity, patience, or humility that we require, God is the source of all good, and He confers upon man all the qualities that express Him. Our true selfhood faithfully reflects the Love that is God. The willingness to go the extra mile for someone and the happiness we get from helping, are signs of a basic truth: our real, spiritual identity is the expression of infinite Love.
We don't need to think of unselfishness as unattainable, because we're not truly a sin-prone mortal -- that isn't the reality of man as God's image. But if unselfishness is to be the rule for us, it's important to get beyond being impressed by the frequency of greed and selfishness to the divine fact of man as wholly governed by God. This requires reformation in our own lives.
As the word unselfish implies, giving to other people means letting go of self-love, self-serving attitudes, and self-will. Sacrificing self-centered motives takes prayer and perseverance, but the blessings from doing so are great. In reality, selfish traits don't belong to us any more than nighttime belongs to midday. With each change toward more Christlike ways of thinking and acting we understand better who we really are as God's child.
I remember an afternoon when I was in a terrible mood. I treated the friends I was with roughly. Later in the day I had an appointment with two people from a local church. I was supposed to be able to help them. The problem was that I didn't feel like being nice to anyone.
As I walked to the appointment, I mustered up whatever spiritual reserve I felt I had and started to pray. There were several things that I prayed about, but the main thought that freed me from the depression was that I am what God knows me to be -- His loving expression. I thought about how love is natural to God's man and that the selfishness I was indulging in was certainly not something that came from God. A great feeling of love for the town I was in and for everyone around me totally replaced the moodiness. The self-will and anger disappeared. The two people and I had a good meeting together.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``If selfishness has given place to kindness, we shall regard our neighbor unselfishly, and bless them that curse us; but we shall never meet this great duty simply by asking that it may be done. There is a cross to be taken up before we can enjoy the fruition of our hope and faith.''2
Prayer, taking each opportunity to do something good, and watching to see whether our thoughts are self-centered or God-centered are the steps of Christian growth that bring to light our true spiritual nature. We'll find that the more we understand God as Love, the more natural it is to love our neighbors.
Unselfishness is not foreign to us but is a natural expression of the way God has made us to be.
1II Corinthians 9:8. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 9.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. Luke 6:38