This morning I read yesterday's devotional from "A Year with C. S. Lewis" titled Half-Hearted Desires. The gist of it is how we view unselfishness as a virtue and pursue our own betterment in place of pursuing love and a focus on others. Somehow we equate unselfishness with love.
Unselfish is a negative term, love is positive.
Even saying the two words to myself, I feel the difference in the focus of the thoughts that follow. Unselfish is all about me and how "good" I am when I do an unselfish act. Love is not about me at all, it's about the joy of blessing someone else, especially when they have no idea what the action cost you.
Unselfish could easily lead to a false righteous or martyr attitude - "Alas, I'm doing this all for you!" I can see resentment easily building up over time.
Love is laying down my life, giving it for another. It's about God's love flowing through me to someone else for their good.
And when it comes to loving ourselves vs. being unselfish with ourselves, well, I can't even process that. How in the world would I be unselfish with myself? Hmmmmm....
Yet loving myself, that is easier to understand. To me, it first of all means viewing myself how God sees me: as a precious, lovable person with gifts and talents and value. It also means taking care of myself, enjoying the life He gave me, taking time to indulge in simple pleasures.
Being unselfish - being un-anything - feels so weighty to me. It's like a downer and an emptying out sort of thing. Almost makes my face scrunch up. How do I pursue becoming something "un" without replacing it with something positive?
Being loving - being for something, is a positive viewpoint that fills me with hope. I can pursue love in my actions, prayers, and thoughts. I can fill up with God's love, and allow Him to change me. And I can focus on others, enabling His love to flow through me to them.
What do you think? I invite you to join me in reflecting how these words, and the concept of negative vs. positive focus, play out in your own life.
I'll be pondering, hope you can join me!
...But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13:13b NIV)