The cause of so many problems today are a result of selfishness–crime, broken homes, abused children and other ills all essentially boil down to someone putting their own needs and desires above the welfare of another person.
The way to overcome this natural human tendency is to first realize that you can change, by the grace of God.
The second step is even easier; be willing to change.
The path from selfishness to selflessness is merely this–just think about your self less. Instead of trying to satisfy your own feelings, needs and desires first, focus on doing God’s will by following the leading of the Holy Spirit in your day to day activities.
Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God. (New Living Translation)
What pleases God?
- Faith (Read Hebrews 11:6)
- Compassion (Read Psalm 86:15)
- Mercy (Read Ephesians 2:3-5)
- Justice (Read Psalm 11:7)
- Generosity (Read Proverbs 22:9)
- Righteousness (Read Psalm 33:5)
- Love (Read John 15:17)
To display these attributes you will often have to put your own needs and desires on the backburner. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be taken care of or neglected. This isn’t the case at all! As you focus on helping others, God will focus on helping you. As you put Him first, He will satisfy your needs. (Matthew 6:33 paraphrased)
You won’t automatically move from being selfish to selfless overnight. You will have to do it on purpose. This may even mean that while you are doing a selfless act you may have a bad attitude at first. Look at this illustration Jesus gave as an example of obedience…
“Tell me what you think of this story: A man had two sons. He went up to the first and said, ‘Son, go out for the day and work in the vineyard.’ “The son answered, ‘I don’t want to.’ Later on he thought better of it and went. “The father gave the same command to the second son. He answered, ‘Sure, glad to.’ But he never went. “Which of the two sons did what the father asked?” They said, “The first.” (Matthew 21:28-32, The Message)
Just because you don’t feel like obeying God doesn’t mean you can’t. Do it anyway. Go out of your way for a friend. Spend time doing a task you don’t enjoy because someone needs your help. Give money to assist someone in need instead of buying something for you.
When you make an effort to do what’s right even when you don’t “feel” like it, God will honor your effort and begin to work on your heart. He will purify and cleanse your motives until your thoughts become one with your actions, which means…
You do the right things that please God for all the right reasons and you do them with joy.
Developing a selfless attitude is a life long process, but the results are worth it–becoming more and more like Christ.
Activate the power of prayer:
Pray for the ability to be selfless. This is what Mother Teresa, the great missionary of Calcutta, did. She is remembered worldwide for her service to others. Recite this prayer of Mother Teresa’s or say your own to begin cultivating a selfless attitude:
“O Jesus, You who suffer, grant that today and everyday I may be able to see You in the person of Your sick ones, and that by offering them my care, I may serve You.
Grant that, even if you are hidden under the unattractive disguise of anger, of crime, or of mental illness, I may recognize You and say, “Jesus, You who suffer, how sweet it is to serve You.”
Give me, Lord, this vision of faith, and my work will never be monotonous. I will find joy in fulfilling the needs, both great and small, of the poor who suffer. Dear forgotten one, you are even more beloved to me because you represent Christ. What a privilege I am granted in being able to take care of you.
O God, since You are Jesus who suffers, be for me also a Jesus who is patient, indulgent with my faults, who only looks at my intentions, which are to love You and to serve You in the person of each of these children of Yours who suffer.
Lord, increase my faith. Bless my efforts and my work, now and forever. Amen.”