For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. — Mark 10:45 (KJV)
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. — Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)
Beginning with the Apostle Paul and Christ’s disciples, countless missionaries and pastors have poured out their lives to save souls from hell. They have also helped make these people’s earthly lives better. David Brainerd, Angus Buchan, William Carey, Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, Henry Martyn, D. L. Moody, George Mueller, Mary Slessor, J. Hudson Taylor, William Tyndale, John Wesley, and George Whitefield spring to mind.
William Wilberforce (1759-1833) petitioned Parliament to pass Slave Acts in 1807 and 1833. He helped abolish slavery in Britain and the slave trade in its colonies. “Amazing Grace” (2007) tells the story of this amazing man.
Literature also contains stories of sacrifice. In the novel Christy (1967) by Catherine Marshall, and its television adaptation (1994-95) by CBS, the title character leaves a life of ease to teach poor children in the Appalachian Mountains. Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice (1811) is another such character, the only one in Jane Austen’s canon. He sacrifices his time and money in order to force Mr. Wickham to marry Lydia Bennet. Mr. Darcy even refuses credit for the deed. When asked the reason, he tells Elizabeth Bennet, “I believe I thought only of you.” That’s the secret to sacrifice. If Darcy had thought of himself, he would have drawn back from the task before him.
All these people made great sacrifices of time and money to help others. They thought of others more than themselves. What’s so sad is that history and literature aren’t filled with the lives of more such people. I think sacrifice is lauded only because selfishness is prevalent. Self-sacrifice is our Christian duty, not something we do to receive praise from others. Did we die on a cross and save people from sin (2:5-11)? No. Jesus’ sacrifice is worthy of praise only because he is God. Like Christ, we’re only doing our duty. Where’s the praise in that?
Yet we laud the sacrifices of others because we don’t make any. If more people thought less of themselves and more of those around them who are in need, this world might be very different. If more people thought less of themselves, this world wouldn’t be filled with suffering and sin. Selfishness is the cause. People want to blame God for suffering. How silly! God is the one unselfish Person who doesn’t cause suffering and the only One who can truly relieve it.
In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), selfish people rob and injure a Jew on his way to Jericho, then leave the man for dead. A selfish Levite and priest pass him by. Finally a compassionate Samaritan stops, spending his time and money to help this man. If more people asked others why they’re suffering, they’d point to a selfish person as the cause. The suffering continues because another selfish person passes them by. Where are the Good Samaritans?
Selfishness is at the root of homosexuality, abortion, pedophilia, and fornication too. These immoral, ungodly acts produce great suffering. Many selfish people today don’t want to wait until marriage for sexual union. Those who do marry don’t want to have children either, to give up their lives of ease in order to rear the next generation. A recent article in TIME magazine explains it all: “The Childfree Life: When Having it All Means Not Having Children.”
Leah Clouse, a 27-year-old Knoxille, Tenn. woman keeps a “baby box” in the closet “with a pink tutu she once bought for an imaginary infant girl.” Her explanation is that the box is “indulgent of a life I have to grieve. If we decided to have children, we’d have to grieve the life we currently have.”
And what life do they currently have? Leah “commits her time to working on her own creative projects and starting up a bakery.” Her husband writes a blog and works in customer service at a credit card-processing company. Ahem. Ahem hem.
I hope these selfish people die out. Yet government propaganda, children stolen from good homes by the state, and communist education in public schools are filling the gap. All these people have been listening to Satan, who wants to destroy the godly offspring or keep it from existence (Malachi 2:15). The story of selfish Cain murdering unselfish and godly Abel is writ large today (Genesis 4:1-5). The blood of aborted babies cries out to God from the ground (4:10). Where are the substitutes, the Seths, the other seed appointed by God (4:25)?
As goes the church, so goes society. Why should she complain about unbelievers? The church can’t point a finger at the world. She’s also guilty of homosexuality, pedophilia, fornication, and abortion. Churchgoers today act more like thieves, Levites, and Pharisees than Good Samaritans. Just read the headlines in today’s newspapers and online blogs. Too many Christians become rich preachers and church staff members, too few poor missionaries and servants. Not everyone can go to a mission field, whether stateside or in another country. But too few even want to go. Those who stay behind don’t want to pray or give their time and money either.
The church today would rather play than pray. She’d rather serve herself in dinner parties and games than serve others outside her own walls. Too many churchgoers try to improve their already-blessed earthly lives (neglecting their souls and heavenly mansions) rather than the lives and souls of others. Full of sin and self, like an obese woman the church today keeps saying “yes” to her wants and “no” to others’ needs. Where are the sacrifices?
The path from personal selfishness to sacrifice begins with confession, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ. But let us not stop there! All along the narrow road to heaven, we must keep saying “no” to self and “yes” to Jesus. Only then will we make sacrifices and ease others’ suffering. This world still won’t change. We must look forward to the millennial reign of Christ. During his reign, sacrifice will be the law of love and selfishness will disappear. I can’t wait!