Skip to main content

The Unselfish Way

The thing about unselfish people is that they act without thought of self-sacrifice. They also don’t keep running accounts of what is owed to them for their performances. For example:

“I always remember my siblings’ birthdays, but they rarely return the gesture and if they do, they give me something that shows their utter lack of understanding my tastes.”

“There! I have removed that towering bougainvillea vine and repaired my side of the fence. The least my neighbors can do is stop their dog from barking all night.”

"They'll never know how much I've forgiven them."

“I'll leave that mountain of dishes and laundry incomplete so he'll know just how impossible it is do get anything done with kids.”

"Actually, yes. What you did years ago hurt me a lot. I'm glad you're finally asking me for forgiveness."

“I have comforted you all day. Can’t you give me one night’s sleep!?”

Rather, unselfish people simply do what needs to be done because they believe it is their job or duty or calling. Anger is no longer their prevailing emotion when answering the baby’s midnight cries or picking up the husbands’ socks or scrubbing burnt food off the bottom of a pot.

Should someone notice and comment on such acts of self-sacrifice, the unselfish person merely shrugs. “Well, of course I do it. It’s my job.” Now, while this could mean, “I must do it for I have no other option,” I rather mean it to mean, “It is what is required of me today.” And God never asks us to do more than we are able.

The other day in my fellowship group, the leader asked, “What have you given up in order to have children?” Where should I start? I wondered.  Ummm everything: a great amount of time and freedom, sleeping in, and quiet evenings, the ability to get things done quickly, a clean house, frequent showers, extra storage space in the house, etc. 

But what's the good of dwelling on what we’ve given up? Isn’t it a way of running up accounts that will disappoint me later in life when my adult children don't give back to me as I think I am owed. I don’t know that we should dwell upon any sacrifice that was made. It has gone up in smoke. It's dead. It should be underground.

Something is decidedly lost when we continually fondle the dead, when we contemplate our self-sacrifice, or tally up what others owe us. 

Instead, the unselfish person scatters acts of service, touches of kindness or words of encouragement as readily as the wind blows the autumn leaves off a tree. It is the joy of grace’s freedom. The same kind of joy that fill us with wonder at a sunset or pastoral scene, but this kind of joy involves mankind. Frivolous spending of love without keeping records. That is the way of Christ. That is the unselfish way.


Luanne said…
Oh, Amen!!! I love your blog but rarely comment, but today, I must. You have hit the nail on head. There is such joy in freely loving! Really, what is there to count, when we are so blessed. It is God who sees, and it is He who, in amazing and mysterious ways, balances the books. We scatter love and grace, and we are 'scattered-upon' through many unexpected sources, by God. The kingdom of God is not about reciprocity, and even the concept of 'play-it-forward' falls short of the larger, amazing, eternal kingdom of which we are a part. God is good, and He is the giver of good gifts, and we are His children!
Thanks, Luanne. Can't say I've got all this good info in my heart yet, but it's doing a work in my head.
Gretchen J. said…
This is my complete and utter weakness. I am not there yet and I am hoping that someday, hopefully not too far off I can learn to give unselfishly. It's easy to give a gift. But to give of myself? Cooking, cleaning up after dirty people, trying to respond kindly to a lot of not-so-kind immature little people. The never ending CARING is SO difficult! I never realized how sinful I was until I became a mom. =/

Popular posts from this blog

Baptism Testimony

I didn't used to want to be baptized. I was too stubborn. I was determined to be the upright, genuine Christian who wasn't baptized—something of a superior class, I suppose. All that physical symbolism was for the archaic layman or the really emotional sort or the person who's afraid baptism is necessary for salvation. It's not for me. It's not for the steady, reliable believer who's doesn't have a big conversion story. I was in preschool when I prayed the prayer. In 6th grade, I gained a deeper understanding of sin while bickering with my siblings in the backseat of the family van. When I was 16, I began a daily quiet time with the Lord. And now at 36, I'm hearing the Lord asking me to make my faith work. Make the rubber meet the road. Get out of "morbid introspection and into deeds," out of "anxious hesitation and into the storm of events" (Rohr & Ebert, 129-130). Stop retreating into my head to figure out God and salvation

Why the Enneagram Numbers Quarantine

Type 1: The Reformer     I quarantine because it's the right thing to do and everyone ought to be doing their part for society by following the same procedures. Type 2: The Helper     No, I'm not concerned about myself, but I quarantine for everyone else. I want to help my neighbors feel safe, and I would absolutely die if I found out I had passed on the virus to someone else. Type 3: The Performer    I quarantine because that's what's expected of me, right? Plus, think about how bad it would look if I didn't. Type 4: The Individualist     I would've loved to quarantine before all this started but now that everyone is doing it, I'm not so sure I want to follow along. I guess I'll quarantine but somehow find a way to still remain exceptional. Type 5: The Observer     I might quarantine. I might not. I probably will while researching the facts about this virus. When I know enough, I'll make a final decision. Type 6: The Guardian     I q

Wanting the Ends Without the Means

I want my children to learn to get along, But I don't want to hear them fight. I want them to feel their emotions and understand them, But I don't want them to slam doors or be sassy. I want them to be respectful to adults, But I don't want to be embarrassed when they say something totally inappropriate. I want them to choose to obey me, But I don't want to come up with consequences when they don't. I want them to fill their own time with play, But I don't want to clean up the mess when they put stickers on the walls or throw tomatoes over the neighbor's fence or carve into the walls or cut through the upholstery with scissors. I want them to be good. But I don't want to suffer through their becoming good. I want a rich and seasoned relationship with my husband, But I don't want to endure seasons of dryness or coldness or disinterestedness. I want to have friends who are different than me, But I don't want to hear their threatening opinions. I wa