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The idea that anything anybody ever does is 100% selfless is just not so. There are heroic acts—acts of great abandon and sacrifice. But every person is motivated by how he or she perceives a thing, by the values or ideals important to him or her.

Selfless Facebook statuses and magnanimous Tweets

I see people on venues like Facebook and Twitter talk about how they just love to minister and give of themselves to others.

“I just love to give to others.”

“I find it so rewarding to minister to people in need.”

Beautiful. Outstanding.

But the first word in each of those sentences is “I.” If you were not fulfilled by serving in that soup kitchen, if it did not make you feel better about yourself to give your time to serve others, you wouldn’t do it.

Also, why share such things on social media? Is it to inspire others? Is it to impress? Where is the widow quietly giving her last coin? Why the pomp and circumstance? Why the drum-banging?

Don’t get me wrong: I think givers are far more blessed and much to be preferred as companions than takers. They are better adjusted. They are happier. They are more of a joy to be around. (That last observation is a rather selfish one, I know.)

The Apostle Paul put the “I” in ministry

If you are one to constantly give your credentials as a selfless person on FB or Twitter, don’t feel too badly. I have always thought that the most remarkable New Testament character was also the most self-promoting. The Apostle Paul was often defending his credentials or rattling off his resume. I know that sounds a little sacrilegious, but I don’t have a congregation from which I can be fired, so I am free to make an honest observation.

In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul talks about how he set Peter straight. There are numerous examples throughout Paul’s writings where he was seemingly thumping his chest about a position he took or something he did or said.

Apparently, God is good with that. He even inspired Paul to share it.

Why is that?

I bet God is impressed with that!

Well, I think it is because false pretenses are unimpressive to God. What use does He have for them? Why does he need you to pretend everything you are doing is an act of absolute self-abandon and that there is nothing at all in it for you? Why does he need you to pretend  anything at all? He knows.

He made us this way. He made us in His image. Look at God’s own nature. Even though He made everything about us and gave the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us, He insists we make it all about him.

Doesn’t he?

This is more than survival.

How would we survive as a species if we did not have this sense of self-worth, self-preservation? Even our self-sacrifice is a means of preserving the ideal we have of ourselves as a higher form of being than the brutish beasts.

We do not buy Darwin’s survival of the fittest, every man for himself mentality.

But we are selfish, nonetheless, and we may as well get our minds around it and stop lying to ourselves.

Even the Christian call to salvation is one that appeals to our selfish nature. We tell people they can avoid the wrath to come, they can be reconciled to God, they can find meaning for their lives. In other words, we tell them what is in it for them. You don’t have to go to Hell. You get to go to Heaven. You get to live a more abundant life.

And in conclusion…

The first knowledge is to know yourself. If you do not honestly recognize who you are and what makes you tick, how can you honestly relate to a holy God or a world in need?

Some people are needy, while others (the better ones among us) mostly just need to be needed. And we do need you. We need you giving the way you do, living the way you do.

Just don’t lose sight of who you are and why. If you do, even your selfless acts will stink of selfishness.

May God be pleased to bless all you give and do in His name.

Here’s some Toby Keith…

 

 

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Copyright 2013 The Journey Man


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By Gene

I am a lover, a fighter, and a midnight writer. I love football, hamburgers, and philosophical inquiries. I love Jesus more than any of that. I love my wife, my daughters, my grandson, and my English Setters, Huck and Finn. I also love Huck Finn...and other seminal characters in American literature. Like Gus McCrae. I love the English language. I love to dive into the wonders of its depth and splash around in the shallow end where colloquialisms and slang rule and reign.
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