by Justin Hensley
There lurks in most minds the gravitation to self-interest over the attention to another’s. It is a tendency all have from the start and our efforts ought to be against it. We all are somewhere along this path of self-denial. Indeed, much of the battle in our faith is the strife against gravity to overcome the self. For cannot all sin be traced to the idolatry of pride? This is truly a work of utmost importance that we face. When we are absorbed in the self, we do not consider how our actions affect those around us, or else we simply do not care. We can imagine what the alternative is, in all its excellence. There are a variety of methods that exist to combat this inclination, though only, let us not forget, by God’s help.
It is not uncommon for us to be placed into situations by others that are outside where we would have placed ourselves. In this discomfort, we have the choice to either remain in our position, out of apathy, stubbornness, or something else; or we can choose to change (or make the first step to change) our stance and embrace the discomfort. Take that it is a hot day and your friends are wanting to play a game of cricket outside, but you’re honestly quite comfortable sitting as you are. You may choose your comfort, at the expense of the game (and more than that I’d think), or you might say to yourself, “Why it’s just heat, a little sun will be good for me.” (or whatever reasoning it might be that gets you there) and join the game. Or say the group you are in is going out to eat but you don’t particularly enjoy what they will be having. You might drop out of the group or cause them to reconfigure to your preferences, or you might say, “That’s not helpful!” and decide to try to enjoy the food.
In learning to consider others more, we can not only rid ourselves of noncontributory mindsets but also learn to match the concern that another has for something. If you are impartial about the way a certain rule or objective will play out, and you find that another does have a preference, why should you not support them in it rather than leaving them on their own? Or say you do have a particular preference in some manner, yet you may decide to forgo it to match another’s idea on the matter. Either, with the proper motivation, is a step towards wholesome self-forgetfulness.
Now, there is something to be said for standing up for your own beliefs, but in many circumstances, this is not required. If you are firm in your own identity, can you not set aside your preferences and opinions for the sake of others? The apostle Paul shows this best when he says, “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” In the interest of others, he becomes all things. The next time someone asks you to do something, take a moment to consider, what would you do if you weren’t considering yourself?