Youth counselors, religious ministers, first responders, and ordinary citizens—such as the Canadians who helped refugees from a forest fire last month (see editorial on facing page)—are often in contact with people in need. Unselfish love is a vital part of their work.
“I could never help people so unselfishly,” we might say. But life’s circumstances often push us in the direction of unselfishness. Maybe a family member requires help for longer than we expect. Or if we need help, we learn firsthand how important loving attention can be.
The Apostle Paul taught about self-forgetfulness, a quality that helps us approach unselfishly everything from pitching in during a community emergency to praying for someone. He said: “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:4, 5).
The model of unselfishness that Paul is holding up for us to follow is Christ Jesus. Spiritual love filled the Savior’s thoughts and made him keenly aware of “the things of others.” He healed all who came to him for help. His quick rebuke of any unloving deed was matched by his pure affection, tenderness, and patience.
Jesus’ profound unselfishness had its source in the Christ, his divine nature. He expressed the Mind, or Love, that is God—the Mind that is our creator, too. Jesus showed us that our true identity is the loving reflection of God, divine Love, and that this spiritual fact is the only reality that governs man as God’s child—a teaching that Christian Science brings to light. Because God has created all of us to reflect solely His nature, which has no selfishness or disinterest, there isn’t a man or woman in the world who doesn’t have the opportunity to demonstrate this truth by being an unselfish helper.
The humble desire to do good is a place to begin. When we turn to divine Love to guide us, and know it’s Love expressing itself in us that impels our good deeds, doing something unselfishly can bring deep joy. Love-based unselfishness strengthens, rather than depletes, us.
During a time when selfishness seemed like such a part of me, I prayed to see myself as God knows me—loving, beloved. Mary Baker Eddy urges us to do that kind of praying in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love—the kingdom of heaven—reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear” (p. 248).
Prayer did take away the impulse to be selfish. When I saw how much people need love, I wanted everyone to have it, and my thoughts became less me-centered. I found ways to help my family and beyond. When we make room in our daily thoughts for unselfishness and compassion, we gain a stronger understanding of God purifying and governing us. We each can feel and act with the unselfish love that is ours because God gives it to us. Living this love will enable us to become inspired, caring helpers.
Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 2016.
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