HAVE you ever thought about the Bible as an instruction book in true unselfishness? This is one of many ways we can think about it. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, Christ Jesus tells of the good Samaritan, who stops to help the hapless neighbor that others have ignored. Jesus' approval of the Samaritan's actions indicates that all become neighbors to us to the degree that we are willing to act unselfishly towards them.
Genuine unselfishness has its roots in divine Love, God. Such love is inseparable from God and evidences something of the nature of the true, spiritual man, who is God's, divine Love's, image and likeness. This man--the true identity of each and every one of us!--is the full reflection of spiritual Love.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, was a deeply devoted Bible student. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she states succinctly; ``Jesus was unselfish.'' Jesus' unselfishness wasn't limited to the habit of putting other people first. Putting God first: that is the lesson of unselfishness that the Bible, culminating in Jesus' healing mission, teaches! And Christ --the spiritual understanding of God's allness that impelled the Master's loving acts--is the prima ry need for each of us today if we want to be genuinely unselfish.
That this Christly understanding results in putting others first is natural. But there is a spiritual power to putting other people first in the right way. By putting God first in our hearts, and in our thoughts and in our lives, we learn how to aid and bless others in spiritually impelled ways.
I had an experience that indicated to me this need to put other people first on a divinely, rather than a humanly, unselfish basis. I had just arrived in a foreign country. Information I had acquired on the plane indicated that I wouldn't be able to make connections for an event the following day. But seeing an anxious-looking youngster, I chatted to her in an effort to calm her. I learned that she intended to hitchhike to her destination. The only alternative seemed to be to stay overnight at the airpor t.
My first reaction was definitely unselfish. Before I could offer to sit up overnight at the airport with her, however, I learned something of what I still feel is a diviner unselfishness. The thought came so clearly to me that she didn't need my help. We both needed, and had, God's help. I could help her best from the spiritual premise of really knowing her to be God's child and seeing that He would not let one of His children be stranded.
Within a matter of moments we had found a coach that would make a connection to her destination. And the same coach was the first link in the meeting of my needs! I was thrilled with the way that her need had been met.
But I was particularly happy because I felt the spiritual power of an unselfishness that had put God first. By trusting His capability to care for both of us, I was enabled to get to my own event. Selfishness would not have got me there. Yet a sincere but personal unselfishness would have left me equally absent --albeit more nobly--sitting unfruitfully in an airport. It was God's inspired care that provided for us both.
The Bible sets the Christly standard of unselfishness. Yet it doesn't trap that true standard and confine it to its own bygone era! It continues to urge us to set our sights higher in imitating the works it illustrates today. As we read the Scriptures, ponder them, pray with them, we undergo ever-deepening instruction in a Spirit-based unselfishness!