Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Principle of Being Unselfish.


It's not hard to notice that we live in a very me-centric society. All you have to do is turn on the TV, log on to any social media site, or stand in line at the grocery store to be bombarded with advertisements, pictures, and products that are designed to help people look out for "# 1"

"Looking out for #1" That is a phrase I have heard often in my life from various people. They say Dthings like, "I gotta do whats best for me. I am always looking out for # 1" They say this as if they are truly the most important person to ever walk the face of planet Earth.

While I will admit we do need to look out for our best interests and do the things that will keep us healthy, safe, and cared for, the woman we have been discussion for the past several posts shows us that if we are really going to be "looking out for # 1" we have to learn to put others first.

Defining Unselfish

The Proverbs 31 would probably never be found on a list of people who would be classified as "selfish" In fact, most, in today's society, would say that she was just too giving and didn't take any 'me' time for herself. And that might be true. But what does the term Unselfish even really mean?

To define unselfish first we have to establish what fits into the mold of being "selfish" 

Selfish can be defined as someone who is so wrapped up in their own welfare and interests that the welfare and circumstances of the people around them simply don't matter. 

It would stand to reason, then, that the quality of being unselfish would be the opposite of selfish. A person who is unselfish could be considered a person who makes the choice to put the welfare, happiness, and needs of others before their own.

The Unselfish Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31:20 says,
She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
We have already seen as we have looked as several of the other verses in this 21 verse passage that the welfare and needs of this woman's family~those persons who live in her home~as well as the individuals who are employed in her home are cared for. Their welfare and interests are made a priority. But what we see here is that this woman is not so consumed by her own plans, projects, and affairs that she doesn't have time to help out others who cross her path.

In the post on being Economical we saw that her lamp never goes out at night. This wasn't because she was hard at work at all hours of the day and night. It was because she, along with her husband, wanted others in their neighborhood to know they were available. They had resources to share and they were ready and willing to be of service where ever they would have been needed. She also wasn't afraid to offer her help when she saw a need.




How to be Unselfish in our 'me-centric' society

How many times has a post on social media, or a prayer request in the church bulletin, or a random comment from a friend come across your path and you thought to yourself: "Hey, I could probably help with that." But then you keep scrolling, toss the bulletin in the trash, or change the subject in the conversation because really, if you thought hard about it, you didn't really want to get involved anyway? I know for me, that has happened more than I like to admit. But what makes us respond in that manner rather than taking a page out of the Proverbs 31 woman's book and extending our hand to the needy?

Pride, that's what makes us respond this way.

Proverbs 16: 18 reminds us that
Pride goes before destruction and an haugty spirit before a fall.
Our pride gets in the way and we think "I don't have time for that." or "If they really needed help they would come ask directly instead of posting this on social media just looking for sympathy."

So how do we get past that and learn to extend our hand?


  • First of all we can learn to be active participants in other's lives. This means being willing to step up immediately when someone asks for help. Instead of looking around the room hoping someone else will raise their hand, being the first person to say, "YES I can help with that need.
  • Secondly, learning how to take a more passive role. This means being acutely aware of what is going on in the lives of those around us and being willing to step in and offer help before someone has to ask for it. 
  • Thirdly, we have to be willing and able to follow though on the help that is asked for or offered freely. If you see that some is need of a meal but you really don't have time to cook something extra don't flake out at the last minute. Take some time and order that family a pizza or some other form of delivery food. If you were asked to babysit for a mom who needs to be at important meeting don't make the decision the day of that you just don't want to deal with another child. Be willing to follow through or don't offer/accept the responsibility!


A Final Thought

Scripture is full of examples of unselfish individuals as well as those who fall on the other side of the coin. If we turn again to Proverbs we see in chapter 16 verse 17 that Who ever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. You see, if we are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus then we have to learn to put the "me" away and start focusing on the people that God has placed in our path. Jesus, the ultimate example of unselfishness, said in Matthew 25:40 that "whatever you do to the least of these, you also do to me."  The best way to begin to transition from a life of  'selfishness' to a life of 'unselfishness' is to filter our decisions through this prayer:

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Where do you fall on the "selfish" scale? Do you have an attitude of open handedness or do you keep your hands closed tight? How can you work to become less selfish? Join me next time when we learn about the principle of being prepared.


9 comments:

  1. Selfishness and unselfishness is one of those areas that are contrary to what it seems they should be. It seems that someone who spends plenty of "me" time would be the most satisfied with their life. Yet, the most contented people I know are the least selfish. And, some of the people I know that are the most selfish still never seem to be happy with anything. No matter where we are on the "selfish" scale, we can always become less selfish and more giving. :)

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  2. Thank you so so much for sharing! I remember forever ago I read a blog about the "me time" myth... about how somehow saying you "need" or "deserve" me time can really hurt more than it helps... because we never feel like we get enough! I've had my fair share of pity parties because I was all wrapped up in myself. I'm thankful for your courage and writing posts like this to remind us that God desires us to have a servants heart!!! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!!! I was encouraged and challenged :)

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  3. Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your walk with Christ. Yes, indeed your points are spot on. Society is filled with prideful ambitions anchored in self-centered motives. The art of selflessness requires a daily and often hourly reliance on God. Left to my own strength I'm powerless over temptation. Only Christ's courage can prevent me from the "my-centric' syndrome. GBY

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  4. Hi Elizabeth,
    Yes, this definitely conflicts with the culture's attitude that "you have to love yourself." This definitely isn't what Jesus preached or lived, and as His followers we shouldn't either.

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  5. It's kind of like we are kids that never grow up. When we see examples of those that are selfless it is motivating!

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  6. It is not all about me! That is one lesson most of us will find very hard learning. Thanks for those practical tips on reaching out to others. Awesome insight.

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  7. It is definitely hard to find good examples of people living unselfishly in modern society. Most of the examples we are given are the rich and famous who act for themselves more than others.

    I think that is one reason why Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was so appealing to many. She gave up so much to follow God's call to serve the poorest of the poor.

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  8. Awesome message, and one I know I need to practice.

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  9. What a great example to study ... the Proverbs 31 woman. Unselfishness is one of the rarer character qualities today, isn't it? Thanks for focusing on it's importance.

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