Years ago, a dear friend encouraged me to invest in someone who could in no way pay me back. It was hard. If you think about it, it’s really hard.
I finally went to a nearby nursing home and spent time with some abandoned old men. God showed up. There was nothing those old gents could do for me, and I felt His love flowing through me. I was changed in the process. It’s the old adage “Plant a tree under whose shade you will never sit,” but with a Kingdom purpose. We feel good about ourselves when we do the right thing, and selfless giving is the right thing for us as Christ followers and disciple makers.
Almost everything we do has a quid pro quo. We sing in the choir and in return, we get to stand in the front of the church and look holy. (That may not be our motive, but it IS part of it.) We volunteer as a part of Junior Achievement, and that’s a great thing to do. But we DO get to list that as a leadership item on our resume when we’re looking for a better job. We invest in our kids, and there’s no question that we MUST do that. But there is a “win” for us when our kids turn out to be people we’re proud of and enjoy being around.
Jesus gave us a vivid illustration of this when he called out the religious elite for giving their gifts in such a way that everyone could hear the money clanging in the container. They must have loved it when they heard “ooh” and “ahh” from the crowd as they pridefully gave their offerings. Jesus also called them out for their long, pious, public prayers; He told them they were getting their reward by doing their ‘religious thing’ in exchange for the praise of men.
There are very few things we do that are absolutely, unequivocally selfless.
The most vivid illustration is in marriage. We trade all the time. We empty and load the dishwasher to gain the freedom to watch a football game (or to avoid feeling guilty when we do!). We trade a little patience and understanding for sex. We trade taking care of the kids for the freedom to play a round of guilt-free golf.
But look at Christ’s death on the cross. That was no trade. He got NOTHING in return for that. It was totally selfless on His part. He deserved no punishment, but took ALL of ours and got nothing in return.
When I read “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25), I’m reminded of my calling as a husband… to love my wife and “give myself up” for her… to give up my selfish desires, selfish habits, selfish goals and put her above myself. When I do, she loves me to death. Without even knowing it, she’s loving the Jesus that’s living in me. And God gets the glory.
Try it for one day, men. Try living a completely selfless marriage existence for 24 hours. Put her first. Listen to everything she says. Anticipate her needs and meet them before she gets a chance to ask. Do more than your part for one whole day. I double-dog dare you!
You’ll catch a glimpse of what Jesus wants for us in all our relationships….”to consider others above yourself.”
Question: Is it true that selflessness is what makes a Christian’s faith shine and stand out in this self-centered world?