I went on my first hike at Radnor in a very long time. The weather was pitch perfect. Everything was just right.
Halfway, I saw a girl who got my attention. I don’t mean in the sense that she was pretty (she was), but it was something else. I caught her in a moment when she was completely un-self-aware, if that’s even a word. She was so completely captivated and enchanted by a deer she was watching that in that moment she was selfless.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been around someone like that– someone who is so focused on others that they’re hardly aware of their own existence, or whatever the opposite of self-absorbed is.
That’s so rare these days. Social media has turned us into narcissists. So much of the time so many of us are self-obsessed and self-centered. It’s hard not to be in a culture where all the advertising and media is about getting what you want and gratifying your own desires. It’s all about selfies and posting about me — even spouses and children are a reflection of me.
Yet when you see true selflessness, it’s a beautiful thing. Like the old saying about humility goes, it’s not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself. It’s not false modesty where you want praise on your own terms. It’s not self-effacing when refuse to take a compliment at all.
I’m not sure I can describe it, but I know it when I see it. Maybe the best example of pure selflessness is found in Philippians 2:5-11:
“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father” (The Message).
Maybe what I find so enchanting about selflessness is that it is a reflection of Jesus. It points me to the perfect sacrifice He made for me and how He took my mess and gave me His perfection. It’s that kind of sacrificial love that I long for but fall short of so often because I am so often selfish and self-serving. It’s what I hope and pray Jesus is transforming me into.
May we always seek the kind of selfless agape love that comes from God and may we reflect it to everyone, but especially to those who need it most and deserve it least.