How can you and I be extra selfless during a time when it’s so easy to be selfish? Nearly every ad on TV or online this month caters to our wish list and our expectations.
I recently gave you “4 Ways to be Selfless in an All-About-Me World.” Now, here are “4 More Ways to be Selfless” at this time of year as a gift to the One who sacrificed it all for us:
- Slow down long enough to extend toward others.
This is difficult this time of year. But, what is so important about our busy, fast-paced lives? Do we even know why we run so fast and work so hard and run over people in the process? The Psalmist prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). To number our days means to realize life is short and to live intentionally by focusing on the few things that matter most.
My husband – a pastor who refuses to run the rat race, but instead prefers to live life slower and more intentionally – often reminds me of the importance of “simple acts of love” – especially when they are unexpected and undeserved. Hold open a door for someone (even if it takes a while for them to get there), pay for the order for the person in the drive -through line behind you, let another person in front of you in line. When you slow down to “prefer one another in love” you will find there are more opportunities than you realized to extend toward others with simple acts of love.
2. Serve instead of soak.
Who doesn’t want to be pampered? Our flesh, naturally, wants to experience the best of luxuries with the least amount of work. But that usually means someone else is doing the work. This is seen not just in posh administrative jobs but in churches across the country, as well. Many of us believe we’ve put in our time and it’s our season to be served. Yet, Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary in doing good, “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
The moment any of us adopts an “I deserve this” attitude or an “I’ve put in my time, now it’s someone else’s turn” mentality, we have succumbed to the temptation to soak up someone else’s efforts instead of serving until the day we die. Those great men and women of the faith that we read about in Hebrews 11 never retired, professionally or spiritually. They continued to answer the call and serve their Lord until their dying breath.
3. Don’t dominate the conversation.
I will admit this is difficult for me. I love to talk. But I don’t always have to give my opinion or add my two-cents to a conversation. I’m finding lately that I enjoy talking less if it gives others a chance to talk more. If you ever find yourself doing all the talking to the point that you never get around to asking someone else what is going on in their lives, it may be time to talk less. Romans 12:10 exhorts us to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” You can do that by deferring to someone else in the group, pausing in the conversation to let someone else in, or simply focusing on another person and determining in your heart and mind that what they have to say is just as important (if not more) than what you have to say.
4. Shine the spotlight on others, not yourself.
Are you one who craves the spotlight, desiring kudos and applause for what you feel is praiseworthy? Or would you rather not be on stage because you are self-conscious about how you look or what others will think of you? In either case, the temptation is to focus on self.
Look around. Who do you see that you can “push into the spotlight” by praising their strengths, recommending them over yourself, and casting them in a good light? James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” which means as you are okay with being behind the scenes and focusing on promoting others, your day will come – in God’s timing, not your own.
Which one of these selfless acts can be one of your gifts to the Lord Jesus this Christmas? I’d love to know in the comment section below.