Selflessness. Self-sacrificing. Preferring others. Those are all foreign terms in today’s culture of “me”. Are you personally familiar with them?
We are in the throes of an ugly epidemic of a self-absorbed humanity. Unfortunately, it is only going to get worse as the Bible does indeed predict it in 2 Timothy 3:2-5.
2 Timothy 3:2-5
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
It’s visible on the roadways with erratic, careless, and distracted driving and the soaring amount of road rage incidents. It’s commonplace now to inconsiderately cut people off in traffic, ride their bumpers and push them off the road in order to be first or faster. Driving defensively has never been more necessary than today. It’s no longer just being a careful driver obeying the traffic signs, speed limits, and laws of the road, but being alert to who’s going to cut me off, flip me off, or tell me off on the highway!
In public, at home, in the workplace and in relationships, people have an immense sense of entitlement, are too offended, and don’t forgive easily or at all. Our culture is dominated by people refusing to compromise, be adaptable, be flexible, or prefer someone above themselves. It’s why marriages, families, friendships, and relationships are all falling apart.
There is no end in sight to the culture of me, only further perpetuation of it. A personal, internal philosophy of “Me first!” or even worse, “You don’t matter!” is indicative of too much pride and not enough humility in one’s life. Perhaps it’s a lifetime of zero consequences and no accountability. Maybe it’s that everything was handed to them with little to no effort so that is what they now expect from others (btw, thanks parents for poorly raising your entitled children for everyone else to have to deal with now!). It can also be due to resentment, bitterness, and an arrogant victim mentality of “Everyone owes me!”
Social media isn’t helping either as it dangerously contributes to the culture of me. We’re too busy filming brawls in Walmart for viral video status instead of responding with shock and disapproval with the encouragement to strive for better. Posting daily selfies, lengthy video stories, and going live in all we do is now the norm in order to show hundreds, thousands, and even millions of followers how fantastic we are. Our insatiable need to prove our worth and exploit ourselves for the admiration of others is doing nothing but fulfilling our superficial selfish needs.
How about the brave keyboard warriors? They spew hateful, demeaning comments with absolutely no filter. They post with such boldness as they cower behind the anonymity of a social media account. Their intentions are self-satisfying as their impulsive and unkind rhetoric has only one mission: to tear people down not once thinking how their cruel words might ultimately affect others because they just fulfilled their immediate need of self-gratification. Mission accomplished!
Note that in all these examples, not once is anything done for someone else. They’re all for the purpose of satisfying self. If people would spend half their time doing some self-reflection and seeking a deeper life, they would live a more rewarding life that doesn’t need to be played out on social media because when you live a rewarding life, you don’t need the affirmation from countless strangers to tell you are worthy of anything. It comes from within and that feeling satisfies you.
Individuals who are cognizant to the feelings, needs and well-being of others are a rare breed anymore. We are all born selfish so our lives must be a constant work in progress to improve and extinguish that innate nature within ourselves. We must recognize it and seek to change it.
Unless you are exposed to and taught a selfless life, most likely you will not produce a selfless life. I believe we begin to change when at some point in our lives, someone has or will cross our path and demonstrate what selflessness looks like and we understand how it makes us feel as a recipient. It is then we must pay attention. That feeling of gratitude we get when selflessness is directed toward us must be etched in our brains and fondly remembered so that the next time we have the opportunity, we can be the initiator of that feeling of gratitude in someone else by selflessly choosing to put them first.
Make today the day you choose to put others before yourself impressing them so profoundly with your selflessness that they cannot wait for their opportunity to impress it onto others.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.