Lately it seems that God has been trying to teach me about being unselfish. This seems like a pretty basic lesson to learn...we have grown up with our parents telling us to be unselfish, share with others, and "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." But I've realized that living "unselfishly" goes beyond just polite manners and trying to remember to think of others before yourself. It requires living in a way that is actually beneficial to others. It goes beyond "I won't hurt you so you won't hurt me," but living in such a way that says "If I were in your position, how would I wish to be treated? Then doing that for them BEFORE they "desreve it." It's acting before there is merit earned, and even when merit is lost on their side.
I will be the first to confess to you that I do not live this way. I rarely think of others first much less go out of my way to be beneficial to them. Thinking like this puts others so far ahead of yourself that it is nearly impossible to be selfish. Your entire mental state is looking to see what you can do for them.
I think its funny that we expect everyone to treat us well and when someone doesn't they are blacklisted, and punished by us for hurting us. We are very concerned about our rights as individuals and how dare someone infringe on those rights. But we don't extend that same courtesy to others. We can walk all over them and then we are shocked and annoyed with their hurt. We forgive when it is easiest or there is again merit to deserve our forgiveness. I read somewhere last week that forgiving someone is setting them free. We have the ability, in our forgiveness, to free someone from the burden of having hurt us or the sin they have committed against us. And lest we forget that we have been forgiven and set free by our very gracious heavenly Father for absolutely no good reason at all except he loved us. We definitely didn't merit forgiveness...somehow show God we were "worthy" of his forgiveness...No "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." So that person that I can barely stand who hurt me so bad with their words, the one who is difficult to love because of their personality...while they still hurt me...while they still dislike me...while they are still repugnant...I must remember that this is me before a holy God. When I remember where I stand it makes the compassion for them so much easier to grasp.
You know God has gone above and beyond what was necessary for our lives. He blesses us in ways we can't imagine or count or return. "He works all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes." I think we get to a place where we just expect God to bless us. To answer our prayers no matter what they are. We almost feel we are entitled to it...Now I don't want to say that we shouldn't pray for things and Hope (believe it as if it had already happened) that God will answer us, or that we shouldn't live in the knowledge that God is a good God...but sometimes we kind of expect God to just be good to us, but we stop there. It isn't an outpouring of our lives. All we are concerned with is our own personal contentment. I guess I'm just starting to realize that our understanding of God's gracious dealings with us should inspire us to be the same toward others, not inspire us to think more of what God should do for me.
I'm rambling a bit I know...I don't have my thoughts all figured out on this one as I am still learning this difficult lesson. But it has been on the forefront of my mind for several weeks now, and I felt I needed to share and process it here.
My desire has been for God to help me change my mental attitude...just to BEGIN to see a different way. So that my FIRST reaction is to look, to FIND ways to be beneficial to others, instead of my first reaction being to be concerned with myself and waiting on them to be kind to me first.
I had never given much thought to the golden rule...its something that if you grew up around people...you've heard your whole life. "Do to others what you would have them do to you." The Jews used to teach this in a negative way...essentially "Don't hurt me and I won't hurt you." But Jesus teaches this positively "You do first what you wish someone would do for you." I pray that I would be on the lookout for opportunities to do for someone else what I often wish someone would do for me. And that includes at home with my family, at work with my bosses and coworkers, and with my friends, and with the stranger in the store, and the jerk in traffic, and with the annoying person in the theater, and...well you get the idea.
I'm going to leave you with this very timely Wisdom Hunters quote that I read this morning which reminded me to share this:
"Are you motivated first by “He”, second by “we” and lastly by “me”? If so, you are set up for relational fulfillment. The sequence for successful thinking is Him, them and you. “Me” will try to squeeze in and monopolize relationships, cannibalize conversations and hijack heaven’s agenda. Thus, by God’s grace, put to death the “me monster” and replace it with love for the Lord and people. “We not me” is the motto of mature Jesus followers."