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.