‘Consider others’ before self

Altruism is the principle or practice of unselfish concern for, or devotion to the welfare of others.

Altruism is the principle or practice of unselfish concern for, or devotion to the welfare of others.

The Bible goes one step further teaching that not only should unselfish concern be given to others, but this concern should surpass attention and concern for ourselves.

Philippians 2:3 teaches this saying, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition … but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Not exactly a North American concept, is it? But the big question is, “Does it work”? Let’s consider a few illustrative (and true) accounts.

TIME magazine (Jan. 25, l988) provided some insight into the unproductive nature of selfishness. It explained how, during the introductory days of the VCR, SONY fiercely guarded its Beta technology supposing that this would keep their market share secure. Concurrently, JVC, a Japanese company, invented the VHS format and shared their technological expertise with several other companies.

That resulted in an overnight decimation for Beta. In one year, Sony lost 40 per cent of the market. By Year 2, it held onto only 10 per cent of its original sales. Beta was gone and the market was overtaken by VHS machines.

One more story … two brothers (both devout Christians) worked together on the family farm. One was married and had several children. The other remained single. They had predetermined to divide all the produce and profits equally.

After farming together for a while, the single brother thought, “It’s not right that we should share everything equally. I’m alone and my needs are simple.”

From that time on, every night he took a sack of grain from his bin and stealthily crossed the field between their houses, and dumped it into his brother’s bin.

However, the married brother thought, “It’s not right that we should share everything equally. After all, I’m married and I have my wife and children to look after me in years to come. My brother has no one, and no one to take care of his future.”

From that time on, every night he took a sack of grain from his own bin and stealthily crossed the field between their houses, and dumped it into his brother’s bin.

Both men were puzzled because, year after year, their supply of grain never dwindled … until one dark night they ran into each other as they were carrying their respective bags of grain. Immediately, they understood what was happening and they dropped their grain bags and embraced one another.

They realized that nothing had been altered in terms of bushels of grain or bundles of money … but they had both become incredibly wealthy in ways that really matter, that will never depreciate and can never fade away.

And that had occurred by both of them considering “the other better than themselves.”

Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.