Very often today we see individuals trying to get ahead at the expense of others. Sometimes it's blatant. Other times it's more insidious. But this attitude harms businesses, nations, governments, countries, and even churches. It's selfishness -- the self-will, self-love, self-promotion, and self-seeking that many believe essential to success. This kind of activity hurts everyone, including the one engaging in it.
Selfishness is harmful because by its means we place trust in ourselves rather than in God. Then we fail to see God's exacting power and guidance. This positions us to fall into the trap of thinking that we can do something for ourselves that God cannot do for us.
Such a line of reasoning and acting is dangerous. It forfeits spiritual understanding and reliance on God. In its place one often grasps for straws in the effort to ensure advancement. Mere material gain, human advancement, and success shouldn't actually be our goals, although these are often the natural effects of doing God's will. To see these effects, one must rise above self-promotion and self-seeking. This takes humility -- a humility that is not only seen but felt. A humility that yields to God's goodness and power no matter what, without thought of who will be "the best."
A self-centered person tends to believe that limitation is the norm. On the other hand, the one who reaches out to God finds freedom from this fear. Then he or she is no longer fooled. In fact, when we understand ourselves to be God's perfect children, limitations drop away. We see that we are capable of good because God is good. Made in His image, we are good. When this is understood, the thought of gaining something at another's expense is destroyed. Self-promotion and self-seeking are useless. We have found humility.
Perhaps one of the best-known examples in history of a self-seeking and self-promoting individual was Judas, a disciple of Christ Jesus. This man's dissatisfaction with himself, and lack of spiritual understanding, led him to betray Jesus. But Judas's self-seeking led to his own death -- not to the death of Jesus, who proved his power over death, which came from knowing God. The Bible records that Peter, another disciple of Jesus, also feared being left out. The book of John says: "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following . . . . Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me" (21:20-22). Peter had to learn his own lesson of humility in overcoming jealousy.
We can follow Jesus' example today, by relying on God. To do this means to put aside the limited, false, mortal identity we've come to believe characterizes ourselves. It means to pray and thereby to destroy selfishness and personal aggrandizement. Then in personal and public life, we can express the sincerity and humility that put God first and that are needed to be truly helpful and beneficial. Once this is done, the self-seeking qualities dissolve in very practical ways.
Through much study of the words and works of Jesus, Mary Baker Eddy saw humility as basic to Christian living and healing. This woman, who discovered Christian Science in 1866, wrote this statement in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, -- self-will, self-justification, and self-love, -- which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death" (p. 242).
This "universal solvent of Love" -- of God -- dissolves destructive and dangerous human qualities. It wipes out the temptation for us to put God aside and go ahead without Him. It establishes individual thought and action upon the firm foundation of spiritual understanding. Then we naturally express the humility needed to bless and heal ourselves and others. This is a humility for all to see and feel.
*Other articles on Christian Science can be found in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.