The unselfish life

Unselfishness isn’t just about giving money. Sometimes it’s easier to give money than to give of ourselves. To give our time, attention, sympathy, understanding, and prayers to someone else, we have to be the “real deal.” We have to reach out, to understand, to feel compassion, and to do something about it. Often it’s those sacrifices of time that really count—such as when we give up our day off to participate in a local charity’s work or to visit someone who is sick.

It’s not just about money. It’s about what we give from our hearts, out of love.

There’s a great story about a missionary who was teaching in Africa. Before Christmas he had been telling his native students how Christians, as an expression of their joy, gave each other presents on Christ’s birthday.

On Christmas morning one of the natives brought the missionary a seashell of lustrous beauty. When asked where he had discovered such an extraordinary shell, the native said he had walked many miles to a bay, the only spot where such shells could be found.

“I think it was wonderful of you to travel so far to get this lovely gift for me,” the teacher exclaimed.

His eyes brightening, the native answered, “Long walk, part of gift.”

We each have many opportunities to help others. The Bible says: “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”1 Let’s look for ways to give to those around us. Let’s make it a habit. Let’s make giving unselfishly of our time, service, and finances part of our personal code of ethics, and we’ll find we will not lack, as God will give back to us in abundance, and our life of unselfishness will be a blessed life. You’ll never regret giving, both in this life and in the life to come.

When your Christian love moves from just being a sermon to being a living example of Jesus’ generosity, care, and sympathy, it’s like you’ve just dressed your love in work clothes and set about to build something beautiful. That’s the kind of practical everyday love that makes people stand up and take notice, as it’s a living example of the unconditional love of Jesus.

  1. 2 Corinthians 9:7

Peter Amsterdam

Peter Amsterdam has been active in Christian service since 1971. In 1995 he became co-director (together with his wife, Maria Fontaine) of the Christian community of faith known as the Family International. He has authored a variety of articles on Christian faith and theology. (Articles by Peter Amsterdam used in Activated are adapted.)