Here is an intriguing insight into human nature and what YOU can do about it, by the Dean of Students at Ambassador College.
CHILDREN seem such lovable creatures, but have you ever noticed the selfishness in their little hearts? When a dessert dish is passed around the table, they usually take the most appetizing piece without giving a thought about what is left for the next fellow. Or when Johnnie arrives home from school and enters the pantry, he will take an abundance of fruit, not thinking whether there will be enough left for Dad, Mom, and Sis. When you show him his selfishness, he will defend himself by saying, "Oh, I'm not selfish! I just didn't think." I JUST DIDN'T THINK — that is the best definition of selfishness I know. What he means to say is "I just didn't think of them. I was only concerned about MYSELF."
How Selfishness Acts
The carnal mind which is in everyone of us has a deep rooted concern for "self." Certain privileges and courtesies are extended to others, certainly; but there is no serious concern for their welfare. Take the typical example of a man late for work — speeding at 45 mph in a 25 mph zone. Here are some of the thoughts that whir through his mind: "If my wife were a little more efficient, and had prepared my breakfast earlier, I wouldn't have been late... Why can't wives be more efficient?... That old lady driving the car up ahead, she is just poking along. I wonder how she got a driver's license anyway. The community would be better off if she and her old rattle trap were not allowed on the road (blows horn loud and long)... Ah, at last! I made it around her... What time is it! Oh my! Fifteen minutes late already... Now look! A red light. Why in the world do these city officials put a red light out here in the middle of nowhere!" Had a child run across the street and been hit by this driver, while he was speeding along with his mind fastened on HIMSELF, he would have declared sadly that it was an "unavoidable accident." He would have resented it if anyone would dare term it carelessness. Yet that is what it would be — selfish carelessness, which is another way of saying lack of proper consideration for others brought on by over consideration for "self." Never would such a man look back over the morning's activities and that by arising a little earlier and leaving home at a more appropriate hour he could have had enough time to look out for the other fellow AS WELL AS himself. Even though he was late for work, that was no excuse for him to be so inconsiderate of the others' welfare.
Love Means Consideration
Most of us have only a vague idea of what true love is. Love is not some sentimental feeling veiled in sanctimonious action. True love is the deep down, mature, logical concern for those around us. It is lived actively by endeavoring to discipline ourselves so that our actions are guided by the desires and welfare of others AS WELL AS our own. The human way, on the other hand, is not like God's love. People who "just don't think" often times don't realize how much suffering they cause others as a result of their selfishness. Aunt Jennie may have said nothing the day you sat with dirty clothes in her prize lounge chair, or the time you walked across her clean floor with mud on your shoes. Nevertheless it hurt her. Just because she said nothing does not mean that she will not long remember it.
Natural Mind Doesn't Agree with God
Viewed through the natural human carnal eye, God is a conceited monarch who wants us to give up all happiness and a "carefree" life in order to perform acts that are not to our best interest just to appease His vanity. They view God as a God of hate, not love. They reason that if He were love, He would let them have their own way and be selfish. The only consolation they have is that God appears to be so weak and the devil is giving Him so much trouble that He seldom gets a chance to punish people when they fail to appease him! Yet, they believe that it does not pay to spite Him too much because He may single them out for a dose of His wrath. They believe He causes all of their accidents to befall them, but they accredit all their good fortunes to "Lady Luck." God is a God of love. He loves you as He loves all men. He would have us all follow the loving instruction that would make our lives, and the lives of those around us, full, happy, abundant, and just bubbling over with joy. God will never FORCE anyone to live the right way, if one insists, as the world does, that his way is better. Let us all begin to be concerned with the way we are living our lives. There is a way of living that will bring us, and those around us abundant joy, so isn't it worth at least a little of our time each day to seek it out and put it into practice?
Help Brighten Up the World
If we find ourselves prone to say, "I did not think," or "I won't do this because I may get into trouble," or "other people annoy me," or "I saw someone else do it also," and similar expressions of self-love, then it is time we began to overcome and master the human nature within us. Let us begin to listen to God's loving instruction and let Him turn our lives right side up. You CAN make the little spot in which you live much brighter for everyone, yourself included. Of course there will be moments of sadness especially when you see loved ones, determined to live in their own way, unhappy and miserable. There will be times also when your happiness is impaired by the sins of others. God could save you from this, but He does not because it is part of your spiritual training. He will let such things happen as often as is necessary to KEEP you conscious of the evils of sin, how sin robs not only ourselves but those around us of happiness. But despite all these little troubles, your life will still be filled with abundance.