Selfish or Sacrificial?
What’s better…being selfish or sacrificial?
The day the movie “Lone Survivor” hit the theaters, my Facebook page lit up with friends who had been moved to tears in the first 15 minutes of the film. Probably not in a sappy over-romanticized way, but in the way we LIKE to be moved to tears; when something heroic happens. Tears of inspiration, strength, boldness, courage…that’s what we long for, especially us men: power leveraged for the good of another especially when that means giving up our own good.
On the contrary, when we see an individual leverage their power for their own benefit at the cost of others, we cringe, hiss, scowl, boo, and quickly identify the individual as selfish and shallow.
So the answer to the opening question is obvious right? Of course being sacrificial is better. But what do we mean when we say “better”? It’s more noble, more admirable, respectable, mature…so why don’t we go after being more sacrificial with our lives? Simple. We don’t believe it’s more satisfying.
As we’ve been talking about stewardship on Sunday mornings, one of the overriding characteristics of a faithful steward is her sacrificial lifestyle with everything: her time, her money, her relationships, and even her own body. Meaning – she leverages all God has given to her for His glory and the good of others. And what is the result? Her unparalleled joy!
In no other arena is this more evident than in relationships, especially marriage. It’s been postulated that marriage is too risky because, what if the two people begin to grow in different directions (I’m seriously not even sure what that means, but it gets said, so…) and a spouse is unable or unwilling to go the same direction? Well, I suppose that all depends on whether selfishness or sacrifice is more valuable? If selfishness, then of course the marriage should end or not happen because no longer is it serving the ultimate goal: the improvement of myself. However, when we believe sacrifice is more valuable, we do whatever it takes to be a powerful agent of growth for the other, rather than stamp our feet and say “That’s not fair! What about ME?!”
What guarantee do we have that to live sacrificially is actually more enjoyable and fulfilling? Ask a devoted teacher. Ask a firefighter. Ask a soldier. Ask an ER nurse. None of these jobs are known for their high salary. Yet each would say they love their job and count it an honor to do what they do because it counts for something much bigger than just their self. The self is magnified and enriched, not by focusing on it, but by moving past it.
Look to Jesus. He provides the image of ultimate sacrifice. He didn’t just give up his life for a few, but as God Incarnate, he gave up his life for everyone – long before any of us invited him to. Was he unhappy? Did his sacrifice result in him losing himself? NO! In fact we are told that it was the joy that was set before him that motivated him through the cross – THE JOY!
So as you consider all the stuff you’ve been given by God – money, time, job, relationships, everything – keep asking yourself, “Do I believe it’s better to be selfish or sacrificial?”