The key to living selfless instead of selfish

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross (Philippians 2: 3-8)!

Summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro is an amazing, life changing experience no matter how you go about it, but our team of climbers had the privilege of being led to the top of the mountain by a truly selfless group of people. For these 6 men and women from the One Child Matters organization, reaching the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro was a dream. They went through the same preparation, fears, doubts, trials and emotions that the rest of us did throughout this journey. However, they put those concerns aside to ensure that every person on the trip had a great experience.

It was a few years ago when One Child Matters birthed the vision of taking a team to the top of Kilimanjaro, and ever since then they have been working tirelessly to make it a reality. Similar to anything that God calls us to do, this dream had some road blocks. There were things that came up and tried to get in the way, but these leaders, along with some of their incredible staff that were not able to join us on the climb, persevered and pushed through those obstacles in order to bring the dream to life. As amazing as it is that they were able to organize an icredible trip in the face of trials,  the reason why they were able to do that is even more amazing. As my wife and I got to know these staff members over two and half weeks in Africa, it became very clear that they were not doing this as much for themselves as they were for the other climbers and for children throughout the world who so desperately need to know the love of Christ.

Every single one of these leaders took the time to get to know each individual climber. They wanted to know our testimonies, our passions, and our personal journeys that led us to Kilimanjaro. Each one of them took the time to share their own heart with us, and in those moments we could see God’s compassion and love for people pouring out of them. You could see their love for us in the way the planned the whole trip. They did it with excellence and diligence. Every detail was taken into consideration to make sure we were all comfortable in an unfamiliar environment. When Murphy’s law decided to creep up on us, they did not panic or get frustrated. They simply encouraged everyone, and they kept a positive attitude. We ran late almost every day, because guiding a group of over 20 people all over Africa presents a lot of challenges. Never once did they lose their cool, or even give a disapproving look. They were so patient. Our leaders treated everyone we came across with sincere love and compassion. Whether it was their own employees, the porters, or the even the person next to them on the airplane, these leaders reached out and took an interest. Personally, I was at a loss for words as I observed these individuals throughout our time in Africa. They challenged me in such a profound way.

I don’t know about you, but I have this problem called selfishness. I want things to work out the way that I want them to work out, and in the timing I want them to work out. I have trouble being concerned about others when I am busy worrying about myself. The only time I have ever seen people overcome this natural human selfishness, is when the love of God has filled their hearts so much that it covers it up. That is exactly what happened with the leaders on our trip. Their hearts were full of the love of Christ, and they shared God’s heart for all the climbers and the children. It wasn’t as if the concerns for their own well-being disappeared, it was just that their love for others was of greater priority. That is why they were able to show patience even when we didn’t necessarily deserve patience. That is why they were able to remain calm with the airlines when our flights got cancelled or changed. That is why they spent their time getting to know each team member when they would have been justified in simply staying focused on the details of the trip.

It would be easy to end this with a statement about not being selfish. I could write something like, “Put your own concerns aside and start showing concern for others!” We all know it is not that easy. If it was that easy, then I would stop being so selfish every day! The truth of the matter, and what I saw reflected in our amazing leaders on this trip, is that today what we all really need is a revelation of how much God loves us. We need a deeper understanding of how precious we are to Him. Then, and only then, will we be able to love other people in a similar way. Yes, the ultimate goal is to live selfless instead of selfish. We should long to live humble lives pleasing to God, in which we love others even when it does not benefit us to do so. But we need God’s grace, mercy and love in order to accomplish that.

Today, just stop and take the time to think about what Jesus did for you. Don’t think about how much you owe Him, or how you are going to make it up to Him. Instead think about the fact that He was willing to die for you before you ever produced any fruit for Him. He was willing to die for you while you were still lost and living a life at complete emnity with God. Maybe you are still living your life at emnity with God. If you are, I have good news for you. God loves you as well! I pray today that you are filled with God’s uncoditional love for you! May He increase while you decrease. As humilty and gratitude for that love begin to fill you up, I pray that you will show that same mercy and love to those around you.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4: 10-12).

Written by Brian Maisch

I have a heart for setting people free from spiritual bondage and world oppression. I believe that the radical love of God manifested through his people can transform the world, and I believe that journey begins with us on our knees in a place of humble submission to God’s will.

4 thoughts on “The key to living selfless instead of selfish

  1. I love your cited verse at the beginning. Sadly, we still often times focus on our own interests and selfish ambitions, that the needs of others stand blurry in the background. We cannot see others if we are too much focused on ourselves. It is indeed very difficult to be selfless because since the Fall, our nature was to become selfish. But by God’s grace, because He has given us new life and new heart, we ought to follow Christ’s example of selflessness. I guess that’s really the essence of Christ saying “deny yourself” for us to follow his commands “love your God and love your neighbors”.
    Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to remind us day after day to see people around us and be selfless in our actions.

    Thanks for sharing this post. God bless!
    I’ve also been posting a series of blogs about biblical love in ChristianBlessings (ptl2010.com) in its Christian Tagalog Talk category. 🙂

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