Friday, June 22, 2012

Is unselfishness still selfish?

I finally began reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis this week.  I was reminded by my pastor, Matt Nelson, in a sermon illustration how much I wanted to read it.  I started Monday and I love it!  Lewis' thoughts and insights into human thought and behavior are amazing.  One concept that I came across yesterday just about blew my mind . . . the concept of unselfishness vs. charity in our relationships.  

We believe that it is a virtue to be unselfish.  Of course, it is.  Much better to be unselfish than selfish.  But have we considered the step above unselfishness?  To be unselfish - with our spouse or kids or co-workers, whomever - is a good step, but to be unselfish at it's root is still . . . well, it's still kind of selfish.  It's because a decision to be unselfish is still about me.  I decide to suck it up and let someone off the hook or do for someone else because I should be unselfish.  If I do that, it's still about me.

The higher level here is charity.  The act in question may still be the same - ie. doing the dishes even though I'm tired, playing with my kids when all I want to do is have a minute to myself, whatever - but those acts done out of charity for that person takes all the focus off me and puts it all one them.  I can do those dishes because I don't want to be a jerk (I call that unselfish, but it's still about me and thus still selfish) or I can do those dishes because I love my wife and it would bless her and free up a half-hour for her to take a walk outside and decompress from a long day with the kids on summer vacation.  See the difference?

It's love.  It's loving my neighbor as I love myself.  It's a deep concept and I've only scratched the surface, but think about it today.  Love to know what your take on it is.

1 comment:

Addison Roberts said...

I read Screwtape for a VFCC class and other Lewis books during that time. They absolutely blew my mind. That part was especially interesting to me for a couple of reasons. His insights on relationships are crazy. My favorite part, though, was early in the book when he talks about keeping men's minds on "the stream" and convincing them that spirituality is somehow less real.

But as far as unselfishness goes, I find myself doing that all the time. I do things to win points and not out of charity. I want to be a good husband so I clean etc. It really is something I can be conscious of today. Thanks.