Posted by: mamaamy | March 13, 2008

Faith To Be Unselfish

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I often send you encouragement to live unselfishly with your husbands, children and friends. The question that people have asked me over the years is, “What about me? What if I am not taken care of and all I do is care for others?” My purpose in writing this time is to address this question if I can:

When we hear an admonition to selfless giving—giving up of our needs, desires, time, energy, etc. to serve others, the big question is: “What if I give it all and no-one gives back and I am left with nothing?” We feel as though we will be stepped on, taken advantage of, not cared for, and this is frightening. What will happen to us if we choose to abandon all and walk in unselfishness? The answer lies at the very heart of our belief. This is where the rubber meets the road as believers. We are at the moment of truth and must decide what we believe. This is the garden experience where Christ was before He went to the cross—He had to choose the will of the Father or His own will. And we, like Him, must choose if we will risk it all for the sake of others and trust the Father–come what may. We must choose to walk in the faith that “there is a deeper magic, one that the white witch does not know about.”*

The first thing we must realize as we make our choice is: belief in God seems risky but it is not. The question comes down to this: “Do we believe in the deeper magic?” Is God who He says He is and can we count on Him to care for us? Can He be trusted? Does He have eternal laws that operate in this world on our behalf? Will He back us up if we choose to walk in His ways?

Here are just a few testimonies about Him from the Bible:

Deut.32:4: Moses says, “The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.

2 Sam 22:31: David says, “As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”

Ps. 19:9: Again David says, “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.”

If He is altogether righteous and true, then when we fear Him and not any circumstances that we might encounter (whether inflicted by others or not) we can be sure that we will be taken care of. Fear of the Lord means both revering Him and being afraid of Him in the sense that we truly believe that He will do all that He says He will do.

The Bible says “Fear not” over 365 times. When the Bible talks about this kind of fear it is referring to fear as faith in the things of the enemy. When the Bible says to “Fear God” it means believe or have faith that His laws, His precepts, His commandments are righteous and just and will always accomplish their purpose. Ps. 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” This fear is good. We can rest in this faith.

Hebrews 4:1 says, “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering into His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.”

The next thing we can consider is: if we operate with the idea that we should not act unselfishly because we might get stepped on or hurt, then we are letting the actions of others influence who we are. We put ourselves at the mercy of other’s action and opinions and therefore let go of choosing to be who God has made us to be. Man cannot be counted on to be righteous and do the right thing. Man may do all manner of things to us. He will fail us. We know this. So we cannot justify behaving poorly because we know others will behave poorly. This often comes up with my kids. One will do something disrespectful to the other and then the offended one returns the behavior. I then have to speak to them both, one about respect and the other about not allowing the bad behavior of the other influence to bad behavior. They must choose who they want to be regardless of how the others treat them. We also as adults must behave as God has shown us, and trust that He will work out what He intends in others. We must take responsibility for our own actions! Be who we are to be despite others.

Viktor Frankl is a survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration camps. He wrote a book called Man’s Search for Meaning stressing man’s freedom to transcend suffering and find meaning to his life regardless of his circumstances. He found that those that survived often did so because they realized that even though everything else could be stripped from them, one thing could not be taken: “the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (pg.75). Frankl stopped questioning why circumstances were happening and decided how he would respond instead. He chose to survive with a good attitude, a selfless giving to others, and a faith that the purpose of his being alive was outside of his being able to figure it out or understand it. He says,

“What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life (God), but rather what life (God) expected from us…We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk or meditation, but in right action and right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”

Even this man, Frankl, despite all of his harrowing experiences in Nazi Germany, sees that when one takes this responsibility for his own thoughts and actions, and let’s go of dependence on the outside circumstances or people, he finds his purpose and all aspects of life become meaningful (even suffering). This is the spiritual freedom that makes man different from all other creatures: this ability to choose how we will respond.

Therefore, if God is trustworthy, and we have a responsibility to be who God made us to be (like Christ in all things) regardless of circumstances, then how do we proceed in relationships?

Like we believe! Fear God and trust that He will care for us even if we give ourselves wholly to those around us as Christ did. John 15 speaks clearly about this and sums it all up. This is the chapter that talks about obedience bringing joy. Jesus says,

“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends.”

We can be sure that when we take this “risk” of trusting God and lay down our lives for others, He will reward us—He will care for us—He will defend us and joy will be ours. Actually then, we see that there really is no risk at all.

So, let us live with this intention: let us purpose in our heart to choose the selflessness of Christ–to love others more than we love ourselves, and trust God with what follows.

*This is found in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe of Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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Responses

  1. OH! Amy, this is what I feel like I am constantly struggling with! Can selflessness be fair? No, the answer is not in seeking fairness… ‘Will people treat me as I treat them?’ It is in the giving of myself and being selfless to others and TRUSTING the Lord to take care of me instead of worrying about the others.

    This makes me think of how you tell your kids, “don’t worry about them” whenever one comes to you saying that so-and-so got this-and-such.

    Wisdom. Thank you. I will be meditating on this the next few days. 🙂

    Love you all!


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