Selfless Desires (365 Days of Daring Faith — DAY 362)
Galatians 6:8 (NLT)
Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
A common question among social psychologists is whether people are naturally inclined to be more altruistic or to be more selfish. While some evidence points to humans being innately generous and willing to help, other studies state that we have the natural tendency to be greedy and self-focused. Some of this is influenced by our environment while some of it is impacted by genetics.
Dr. Ariel Knafo, associate professor of psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, notes that a recent study using the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma “found that being selfish was more advantageous than cooperating.” Scripture has something to say about our human tendency to satisfy our sinfully selfish desires. Galatians 6:8 states, “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”
Selfishness often results in conflict, hurt feelings, violence, and war. It destroys relationships and tears down organizations. Some of the biggest problems start when people get greedy. We innately know that selfishness is evil and when we begin a new relationship, we tend to work hard to keep the selfish demon out. But over time as we become more familiar with each other, we tend to put less time and energy into building and maintaining relationships and start to look out for our own interests and aim to fulfill our own desires.
If selfishness destroys then selflessness builds. Relationships, friendships, and partnerships grow and thrive when people think of themselves less and of others more. It means putting the needs of others above our own. When we seek to fill our own desires first, we only reap “decay and death”. But when we seek to please the Lord by serving others, we reap “everlasting life”. Christ is the perfect example of selflessness. He put His life on the line so that we could have eternal peace, joy, and life. He looked beyond himself and his comfort and gave us what we needed.
People, no matter who they are or where they come from, are transformed when we selflessly serve them. This is the biblical and universal principle of sowing and reaping. If you are constantly focused on yourself only, you’re going to reap what focusing on yourself brings. If instead you are focused on others, you will reap what being focused on others brings. Conflict, violence, disagreement, divorce, hurt feelings and broken hearts might be significantly decreased if we all learned to be selfless and others-focused. Everything God gives us is a gift and we are most blessed and fulfilled when we give of ourselves in service to others.
“It’s an energizing feeling to be so focused on someone else that there is no thought of our own welfare, predicament, or problems.”
— Gary Thomas