Charity Vs. Unselfishness

Christmas Present

Philippians 2 

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any [a]affection and compassion, make my joy complete [b]by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing [c]from[d]selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude [e]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in theform of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [f]grasped, but[g]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [h]on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

One month from now, we’ll be celebrating love-to our spouses, significant other, boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, siblings, i.e.  But, what are we truly celebrating?  Are we giving them something so that they can stop their nagging?  Are we sacrificing time and money so that they can feel loved?  What about the other 364 days?

According to Wormwood, from “The Screwtape Letters”, there’s a difference between charitable and unselfish love.  What I can decipher between the two is that charity is just given without the intent of getting anything in return.  Unselfishness has an altruistic goal.  When one sees the word unselfish, the word self is still in there.  So, there’s the chance that if we’re being unselfish, we’re still wanting something in return.

When I was reading Philippians 2:1-11, I kept thinking about the movie, “The Ref” with Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary, and Glynis Johns.  At one point in the movie, Kevin Spacey tells his mother,

“You know what, Mom? You know what I’m gonna get you next Christmas?           A big wooden cross. So every time you feel unappreciated for all your          sacrifices…you can climb on up and nail yourself to it.”

Glynis Johns, the matriarch of the family had everyone on a string, because she had money and was willing to give it to her family, with a price.  She was willing to help, with a price.  So, family members began to feel unaccepted by her.  She would then make family members feel horrible for the decisions that they’ve made, in order to make herself look better.

To the average outsider, they would just see a mother giving her money to her children, and being charitable.  But, inside the family domains, she was unselfish and began to feel unappreciated.

Hence the problem and difference between charity and unselfishness, and every relationship will have to cross this road at one point in time of their relationship.  Furthermore, it’s a struggle that we have to constantly battle with, which can lead to either fulfillment or martyrdom.

Christ knew what he had to do.  He had a mission and that was to save us.  That was His purpose.  He also knew that in order to fulfill this mission, He would have to die on the cross.  His works, teachings, and relationship with one another didn’t have a price tag.  He wasn’t expecting anything in return, hence how perfect and pure His death was.

But, when we start to feel unappreciated, that our selfless acts have gone unnoticed, or we feel entitled because we put in the time and energy (or not), is when we put ourselves on the cross.  This is NOT being Christ-like.  This is killing our own self.  How ridiculous that must look!

Christ also didn’t have a problem in letting people, leaders more importantly that what they were doing was wrong.  This is another sign of His Love.  I’m sure He truly didn’t want to be at odds with them, but what they were doing, he couldn’t turn a blind eye.

As family members, we are to do the same.  We should feel confident that if we need a family member’s assistance or want them to stop doing something, that we can tell them to stop.  You see what’s happening in their life and it’s destroying them and their relationship with God.  That is charitable love.  Because even if they don’t ever give back to you for pulling them out of a path of destruction, they can at least live a better life.

Love isn’t about keeping our mouths shut and turning a blind eye when we see wrong doings.  There are times that when you do speak up, negotiating what your needs are will have to occur.  That means you will have to SACRIFICE.  Again, the work sacrifice doesn’t have the word self in it, either.

Developing the habit of being charitable and sacrificial are quite a feat.  It’s easy to fall into the habit of “What’s in it for me?”  I don’t see the word “me” in either charity or sacrifice.  Therefore, that train of thought can’t happen.  Otherwise, we’ve just become unselfish.

 

 

 

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Live Life like a Dessert Glass

 dessert glass pic

Today, I was reminded of the definitions of  trustworthy, unconditional love, and the phrase, “What you see, is what you get.”

Daniel 6, from the Bible, can truly bring all these words to life, especially when you want God on your side.  Just a quick recap, it’s when Daniel gets thrown into the Lion’s Den, because he kept praying to God, rather going with what was decreed by law.  He knew what was right and kept doing it.  The king, Darius, knew that Daniel’s God was a being not be playing around with, even though his aides were willing to point out the wrong doings of Daniel-from him praying.

So, why a dessert dish?  Well, King Darius knew that Daniel prayed to God and acted his life out, according to God’s will.  In otherwords, what King Darius saw, is what he got.  This in turn, gave Daniel trustworthiness.

I was also reading Letter 19 from “The Screwtape Letters” and it talked about God’s love.  Both instances, I was reminded of trustworthiness.  But, here, love was brought into light.  How many times do we think that love is based upon merit?  But, God still loves us.

A dessert dish is much like this.  When it’s filled, we can count on it being filled with good tasting things.  We can see it from the outside.  The coolness can be felt, if it’s been a frozen or in the fridge to keep it cool.  It will fulfill us after we’ve eaten it, because it truly quenched our desires.  We know that the next time that this dessert is served in this dish, it will give us the same satisfaction.

Live life like this, and people will know who you are and what you can give.  Others will be able to count on you.  You can show what true love is all about.  It is sweet and desirable.

Know Your Purpose

 

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Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together

for good to those who love God,

to those who are called according to His purpose.

Teams work together to get things done quicker.  However, each team member has their own duties, so that the team can be more efficient.

Take a hockey team for instance, if everyone wanted to be the goalie, you wouldn’t have anyone on the ice, playing either offensively or defensively.  If everyone wanted to be a defenseman, there would be fights rather goals being made.  Hence, there is also a purpose for the penalty box.

Success of one person also takes a team of people who know what they’re suppose to be doing.  That person’s purpose is to ask others if they can help and delegate what they want from them.  If those that are helping don’t know what they’re suppose to be doing, success will not come.

Failures are apart of success.  It causes us to learn what works and doesn’t.  It forces the person who is searching for success to examine each part, each person in the ‘game’ and either decide to ‘cut’ them from the team or bring on other teammates.  It forces the person to examine which game plan to use.  

Each time they play, the other team has different strengths and weaknesses.  Therefore, the person looking to be successful has to adjust, hence learning from past mistakes.

If we know what our purpose is; we work towards glorifying God; and, know that it’s Him who works everything out, success, whether easy or sweaty, will come.

Gluttony’s Answer-Psalms 100

glutton

Today’s reading from “The Screwtape Letters” by, C.S. Lewis, had to do with gluttony.  You may ask, “What does this have to do with being successful?”  EVERYTHING!

Gluttony has everything to do with wanting more.  It can be anything-money, time, food, relationships, i.e.  I always ask:

1.  Will wanting more of this make me into an ugly person?

2.  Will wanting more destroy the relationships I have?

3.  Will wanting more separate me from God?

I believe I had a previous post that had these same questions asked, about being successful.

In the book, “The Screwtape Letters”, Lewis points out two types of gluttony-Excess and Delicacy.  Excess is just wanting more stuff.  Delicacy is the wanting of things to be perfect, made by others, given to us.  Both can bring sadness and ungratefulness.  So, the answer is Psalms 100.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
Know that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

Now, one may say, “But, I need to do my best.”  Here’s a picture of someone wanting to do their best, yet it turns into gluttony:

sweaty manYou become uncomfortable, and require other stuff to ‘cover up’ this fact.  Lewis points out this with, “…must think of the medical side of chastity, feed him the grand lie which we have made the English humans believe, that physical exercise in excess and consequent fatigue are specially favourable to this virtue.”  He was writing this as when we overeat.  Oddly enough, this problem was already in existence during World War II, over 75 years ago!  How many times do we ‘workout’ the next day, after eating a feast meant for 4 people?  Yeah, you’re uncomfortable with all that food in your stomach.  How about readjusting your pillows so that you can sleep more comfortably?

What about looking  for new work, as that’s my situation, right now.  I can daily, pour over classifieds, call every temp agency in the world, apply to 5 different jobs, and go to a job fair every week.  Yes, I’ll feel exhausted!  In order to “fix’ the problem, I can then lie to my family or not even spend time with them, as to have more hours to devote to finding a new job.

The Lord is good.  He is faithful and will provide.  He meets us where we need to be met.  Therefore, I’m not going to be gluttonous in finding a new job.  I have my sanity, family, and my relationship with God to make me more successful.

More importantly, in order for me to be successful, I need to be thankful for what God has given me and acknowledge the fact that He has given me the best.

The Heart as a Mussel

Mussel Shell 1

Yes, this is a play on words.  But, when I took this photo, I immediately saw the shape of a heart.

The heart, the human heart, is quite a complex organ.  If it didn’t pump the blood through our bodies, we would die.  If it didn’t had any type of malfunction, it would cause other parts of the body to suffer as well.  Yet, the organ is only the size of a fist.

What’s so important about having a heart, when it comes to success?

1.  Even though “To have a heart”, literally doesn’t mean to possess physically a heart, it does mean to be gracious and giving.  Let’s go back to what the heart does for the human physical body…it gives life.  Since we have life, we need to give back.

2.  The size of a fist really ‘struck’ at me, as how we need to get through certain aspects of our life.  We do need to sometimes fight for our life.  Whether it’s a relationship that’s falling apart; a job that we hate, but need to go to; or, health issues that need to be taken care of.  The heart if overly used in negative situations, it will start to fall apart.  It will need to pump more blood, at a faster rate.  Not good.  This can lead to other problems.

3.  The heart can be re-started.  Whether it’s a metaphor of having a broken heart or literally, the heart stopped.  It can be mended and re-started.  It is when we’ve waited too long to re-start it take care of it, that we run into problems.

4.  Asking Christ into our heart.  I always thought why ask Him into our heart and not our brain?  What does the heart do?  It gives us life.  We can be brain dead.  But, if the heart can be mechanically pumped, it is still sending blood to other parts of the body.  The brain only sends neurowaves.  Christ gave us life, when He died on the Cross.  The blood goes through out the body, including the brain.  Christ’s death, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and God’s love flows throughout the body, including the brain to direct in ways that will make us successful.

Success isn’t always measured with how much money we make; our place of residence; or, what we are physically possessing at that time.  Success sometimes appears differently to others, such as this picture.

Squish, Just Like Grape

desert street

Today, I was reading CS Lewis’s “Screwtape”, letter number 16.  It described lukewarm churches, and how that’s one way for Wormwood, Screwtape’s assistant to ‘worm’ his way through the subject at hand.  That was to start making him doubt going to church.

Successful people, whether they go to church or not, still have to make decisions.  God wants us to make wise decisions.  To be in a state of limbo for quite some time is being lukewarm.

What does it truly mean to be lukewarm?  It is indecisiveness.  You don’t know which way to go, so you walk in the middle, hoping that if you live both sides, you can survive.  Hah!

Revelations 3:15-16 (ERV) “I know what you do. You are not hot or cold. I wish that you were hot or cold! 16 But you are only warm—not hot, not cold. So I am ready to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say you are rich. You think you have become wealthy and don’t need anything. But you don’t know that you are really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

In this day and age, we can’t separate what is being lukewarm, indecisive, and that being balanced and knowing both sides to the argument.

Knowing both sides, is the intelligent way of making a decision.  God really wants us to be like this.  If we can truly know both sides, we easily can be gracious to all.  But, you still need to make a decision on which way to go.

Like the movie from the “Karate Kid”, Mr. Miyagi truly put this idea into an easy parable.  “You walk on the right side of the road.  It’s ok. If you walk on the left side of the road, it’s ok.  But, you walk in the middle, squish just like grape.”  He was explaining this to Daniel-san because he, Daniel, needed either be fully engaged in learning karate or not.  Mr. Miyagi couldn’t have a student who would only be half there.  He wouldn’t be able to fully engage himself in learning how to beat the bad guys in such a short training period.

End of harvest grape 'must', Napa Valley, California

As you can see, being squished isn’t all that lovely to look at.  If this were to be made into wine, the process would have to continue.  That’s the same with making decisions.  You have to be totally engaged and see to it to the very end.

Mirror, Mirror

mirror

Psalm 90:12New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may present to You a heart of wisdom.

When you look at a mirror, what are you truly looking at?  The past, present, or future?

The Evil Queen looked at it for the future.  When you’re driving, you’re using it to look behind you.  In the morning, you’re looking into it to see what you currently look like.

Today, I read Psalms 90 and C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,”  They both had to do with looking in the past, dealing with the future, and living in the present.

C.S. Lewis presented the idea that we can become complacent with the future-knowing that it will be taken care of, therefore, not doing anything in the present. Verse 12 gave the Biblical support.

As successful people, we don’t just look to the past, as in looking in the rearview mirror.  This is dangerous.  We can hit the person in front of us, or miss the opportunity that we’ve been looking for.  The only time we should be looking through the rearview mirror, is when we sense something is coming up from behind us.

We don’t just look at the present and not have any goals.  When we look in the mirror in the morning, it’s not to say, “Ok, here I am, that’s it.”  What we’re suppose to say is, “Here I am Lord, what should I do?”

There are times when we do need to look into the future.  Not so that we can dwell on the negative and hope that it goes away.  But, to give us Hope that what we are doing presently, will minimize the negative.

When C.S. Lewis wrote “The Screwtape Letters”, it was during WWII.  People were full of anxiety, due to the unknown of what would happen to human kind.  Those that survived and came out for the better, not only focused on the future for hope; but, dealt with the present and were grateful that they were alive.

Psalms 90:12, has us live in the present with urgency.  “Teach us to number our days”. Successful people know that there will come a time, when the end will arrive.  Therefore, they make each day count.  They get as much done as they possibly can.  In the end, learning daily, and having knowledge of the present, so that it can be a ‘present’ from God.  That present from God is going to help us get through the future. 

Time Management

Just recently, I was reminded about questioning on things that I spend my time on.  Successful people know how to do this and it’s almost inbred in them, that they don’t think twice.  For others, like myself, I have to be reminded of this.

Today, I was doing my devotional, which included reading Chapter 12 of the C.S. Lewis’ “Screwtape Letter”.  I then dutifully look up a topic on http://www.Biblegateway.com, and searched, “Time Management”, under the Message Bible (It won’t show up under other translations).  This is what I got:

Ephesians 5:15-17 

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
 
How many times do we get ourselves involved with something or someone because it was hard to say: No! ?  How many times do we get involved with something or someone and throughout the whole time, we are wanting to shoot ourselves in the foot, because we realized that it was a waste of time?
 
What do we constitute as a waste of time?
I began a checklist for this, which I implemented not too long ago.  It’s only 3 questions.
1.  Will it take time away from God?
2.  If so, will it make me an ugly person?
3.  Will I engage in an activity that I will not be proud of, if shown on facebook?
 
If I can honestly answer Yes, No, No, in 30 seconds, then I will go ahead and proceed.  
 
If the activity will at least make me a kind, gracious, and giving person, then I’m doing the work of the Lord already.
 
I I engage in an activity that shows me glorifying God, rather than make others question my relationship with Him, then I’m showing who God really is.
 
So, for instance:  I have scheduled myself 20 minutes in doing a devotional, but a friend of mine has asked me for their help.  This person is not a believer, but truly is grateful when given the help.  The talks that we have are always pleasant and the person appreciates the fact that I can be candid with them on faith, hope, and love.  To give them the 20 minutes would be perfectly fine.  We are investing in a relationship that God wants us to foster.
 
But, take for instance a family member that sucks us of our time, regularly.  They go to church, but when asking for help, it’s beyond what you can do, but they still insist that you are the only one who will help them (that’s because others have learned their lesson!).  So, reluctantly, you help them and when you leave, the two of you are yelling at each other, calling each other names, while in the meantime your orchestra director from church just happens to drive by.  
 
At first, we think, “It’s family.  I should love my family.  If I love my family, I love God.”  But, does God love an ugly person, when we could’ve avoided the situation?  Does God allow us to show to others that we truly are one of Him, while we yell and call each other names?
 
The first situation gives us time.  The second zaps our time.  Which time frame do you fall into?
 

It’s How You See Things

                                                                 

Perspective is the we see things and put them into our own understanding.  We can all look at “The Old Man on the Mountain” in the White Mountains, New Hampshire (which is no longer there, after April 2003) and not see an image of an old man’s profile.  Others will see it clearly.

We can either gain a good perspective by experiencing certain situations and listening to those who are going through a certain situation.

Lately, there have been at least 3 top one liners given to those who are searching for a job, even though they already have a job.

1.  Well, just be grateful that you have a job.

The person who just said this, does not have the full understanding as to why the other person is looking for a job.  It could be that the person is needing to find a better paying job, because their family is needing help.  Maybe the current job is too far for them.  Or, it could be that they are so unhappy with their current job, that the only way to get through life is to change scenery.

In order to be grateful for something, the person needs to find the blessing in it.  If the job doesn’t give them a blessing, there’s no way they’re going to feel grateful.  However, they don’t need to act ungrateful. 

2.  At least you have job security here.

Please see the above.  Furthermore, it’s assuming that the person isn’t on the verge of being fired, yet they’re doing the responsible thing by finding another job, before they truly do get fired.  Maybe the person feels like they’ve grown as much as they possibly can in that environment and can’t grow anymore, unless they change jobs.  The job security will eventually kill them-mentally, physically, or both.  Trust me, I see it on a daily basis.

3.  It’s not easy finding a job out there, nowadays.

Have you, the person who just said this, attempted to find a job in the last week, month, or even year?  Granted, the jobs that are being offered are a lot less.  But, people die, retire, quit, get fired from their jobs daily.  That just frees up 4 job openings right there.  What’s being said on the news, by ‘experts’, and who knows what, is basically telling those who are looking for work: You will need to think more creatively now, more than ever before, if you want to find another job.  Yes, it will be another job, just to find another job.  (It’s like that phrase, “A vacation from a vacation.”)  But, just like anything else, whatever you put into it, you’ll get out of it.

With that being said, from a Christian standpoint, perspective is also the same essence as grace.  Grace only comes, once you’ve walked in the other person’s shoes and can show empathy for the situation that they’re in.  From a secular viewpoint, it’s when you’ve walked in the other person’s shoes and can show empathy for the situation that they’re in.  

In other words, don’t pass judgment or discourage someone who’s wanting to make a change.  The bottomline: Don’t assume and dole out phrases that don’t seem to match the other person’s perspective.  First see it from their viewpoint and then you can start questioning their motives, ideas, or convictions.

Survival of the Fittest

P1010792

This past week I was reminded that it’s the ones who keep striving, the ones who keep fighting are the ones who actually overcome anything.

I then went through some of my old photos.  Last year, I had gotten a new camera and went to Cal State Long Beach to the Japanese Tea Garden.  My husband and I bega
n feeding the fish.  They were swarming to get to the food.  Some were even willing to stick their head out of the water and truly work for the food.

Of course, there were ones who were naturally ‘there, at the right place, right time,’ that they didn’t have to work for it.  Others were fighting and again, willing to put their ‘life’ on the line in order to get a little nibble.

This is how life is.  How we approach each assignment that is given to us, determines if we even get fed.  It doesn’t need to be so much as food.  But, if we want recognition, we at times need to work for it.  If needing a new transmission for a car is what needs to be obtained, and money is tight, we are willing to do anything that it takes-working 2 jobs, collecting recyclables, pinching every penny to get the money to pay for it.

Whether you want to call it sacrificing or surviving, what ever way you look at it, the person who’s holding the bag, is the one who overcame.  It’s not so much about winning.

Life isn’t about winning or losing, but rather learning what works for you and sticking to it, until the job is done.