TODAY it sometimes looks as though selfishness reigns. Everywhere you see people trying to get ahead, be first, acquire more money, obtain bigger houses and cars, climb the corporate ladder--and often without regard to anyone else.
We may feel that selflessness belongs only to the very religious. But as we look closer, we begin to see that selflessness is actually something that belongs to everyone, and it can be expressed by anyone. Selflessness is one of the ways we put our love and compassion toward others into action. And our spiritual growth, contentment, harmony, joy, strength, courage, and peace are nurtured by our selfless actions. Selfishly scrambling to accumulate ever more material possessions can never provide the spiri tual stability that God-centered living provides. Our goals may be modest at first, but serving and helping others is a natural outcome of efforts to serve God more fully. Selflessness begins to exterminate dishonesty in business, for example. And discord within families is healed as we establish as the spiritual basis for our actions the fact that God's child--our genuine identity--must always reflect Him.
The words of Christ Jesus teach us to love more. He said, John's Gospel records, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. I'd often thought of this statement in terms of literally being willing to physically lay down our life for others. But in thinking about how to be more unselfish I've begun to see that we can lay down our life by putting materiality aside. This is selflessness; and it can be accomplished--even if little by little--through prayer.
Prayer leads us to God and enables us to be obedient to Him rather than to our own self-will. It wipes out fear. It establishes peace within. Being willing to put aside materiality helps us follow the master Christian. Christ Jesus abandoned materiality and gave his life for others' sake, for the progress of truth, fidelity to God, and love and advancement of mankind. He expressed unlimited selflessness. As we strive to follow his example, even to a small degree, we will find that the desire to do better
is naturally accompanied by the ability to be less selfish.
Such spiritually impelled selflessness is powerful in its effects on humanity. Man, who is made in God's likeness, reflects the ability and courage to be helpful and loving. God is the power behind selflessness. Expressing all-encompassing love, this compassion brings healing, renewal, redemption.
Often political or religious figures, through a willingness to sacrifice an easier life, have helped humanity progress. But selflessness need not be limited to others--each of us can gain the desire and ability to live unselfishly. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Self-abnegation, by which we lay down all for Truth, or Christ, in our warfare against error, is a rule in Christian Science. Selflessness is a key quali ty in our experience and expression. It motivates our sincere prayerful desire to bless everyone.
Our contacts with others, when accompanied by heartfelt prayer, can show us how to put off egotism, pride, envy, and all self-serving characteristics, and replace them with humility, love, strength, courage. Selflessness, expressed, unfolds honesty and progress in our experience. It brings us spiritual stability.
Selflessness encourages us to express more humility, care, courage, and unfeigned love. Together these strengthen and bless. They fill our experience with true achievement, success, strength, and gratitude for a more spiritual understanding of Truth, God. Recognizing man's God-given selflessness illumines in us a greater love for all mankind.