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from Sunny Florida

I'm writing briefly from sunny Florida this week, where I'm working with a Volunteers in Mission team from my conference on hurricane relief. I just couldn't leave my laptop at home though, so here I am, compulsively blogging!!
What's been on my mind?
Why do we like to do these mission trips? I've heard a lot of people talking about feeling great knowing that they are helping others. And it does feel good, to accomplish something, and see the gratitude from people who really need help. But it reminds me of a debate I once had with a college friend - he argued that we only do things to please ourselves. All our actions, even those that benefit others, are for our own pleasure, deep down. I argued that surely this was not true of all actions, though I also must admit more truth to his statement than I would like. And of course there's also the Friends episode where Phoebe and Joey debate much the same issue. Is doing something for others selfish or selfless?
As I'm here this week, I hope to focus in on the why of being here, and hope that while helping others, I can help myself, not just to make myself feel good, but through living in service and discipleship.

Comments

George Curcio said…
Memories came back of a conversation more than 20 years ago with a friend who asserted, much like the matter contained in this post, "There is no such thing as altruism, because even when you do nice things for people, it is to make yourself feel good."

Now more than two decades removed from that conversation, it seems so silly and senseless, and not deserving of the several hours of time it consumed.

God's command is to first love Him with all our heart, and then to love others as we love ourselves. To do so means we act with love and compassion for others, with their welfare and well-being serving as our focus. It does not mean that, if by serving the needs of others we also serve our own needs, that we are acting selfishly or in our own interest. It means that we are extending God's love to others in the same manner we would hope it extended to us.

Perhaps the simplest way to express it is that, when properly motivated and expressed, the circle of love is transcendant of the line between selflessness and selfishness, in that it serves the needs of all involved, from giver to those to whom it is giving.

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