Sermons

Summary: Selfishness does not care about the interests of others. It focuses on the self only. To give up this focus at all is to sacrifice some time, energy, thought, and possibly even some resources for the needs of others.

One of the major causes of human suffering is the fact that

people see life from many different perspectives. While we were in

Duluth we went to a park where we stood on a bridge and watched a

bus load of junior boys and girls eat their lunch on the rocks below.

A lovely stream flowed over the rocks creating a beautiful site with

falls and pools of water. Further down a number of fishermen were

on the bank. It was a picture of pleasure, but pain was nearer than

anyone could suspect. A young couple came past us on the bridge,

and they made their way down the stream, and then down into the

valley where a very small island had formed, and a delightful pool

awaited the swimmers. The girl sat on the sand, and the boy in his

early twenties pulled off his shirt and dove into the pool. We were

impressed with the natural pool, and standing in the hot sun we

could enjoy vicariously the refreshing feeling of the swimmer.

The rocks hid him from our view, but soon we noticed that he

came climbing up on the rocks holding his neck. It was obvious he

had experienced some sort of injury. He made his way back to the

girl, and she quickly gathered up their belongings, and they retraced

their path back over the bridge where we were standing, and into

their car. I was deeply curious as to the nature of the young man's

problem, and so I walked over to the only other swimmer in the pool

who was also leaving the area because of the accident. I asked,

"What happened to the other young man who was swimming?" He

said, "One of the junior boys had thrown a rock into the pool and it

hit him in the neck as he was under the water, and it cut a gash.

They were heading for the hospital for stitches."

Everybody in that beautiful setting was there for pleasure, but

because people find their pleasure in different ways the end result

was pain and suffering. Junior boys see such a setting as a place for

throwing rocks. I cannot imagine a boy not wanting to throw rocks

into that water. For the young couple in their twenties it was a

place for a refreshing swim. Both perspectives were legitimate, for it

was a lovely spot for both activities, but just not at the same time.

Both could have been enjoyed without pain had they been

experienced at different times. But here were two people trying to

practice perfectly normal and acceptable behavior, but behavior

which became incompatible when practiced in the same place at the

same time.

There is nothing wrong with track events or stock car races, but

to try and have them on the same track at the same time would be a

disaster. The point is, you do not need to be doing anything wrong

to cause suffering. Even right and good things create suffering. You

cannot be content to ask only of your actions, is this right or wrong?

You must also ask, is this selfish? Is this behavior which is good for

me a risk of the well being of others? It may be an okay thing in

itself, but is it appropriate in the circumstance? By broadening our

perspective on life, we can prevent suffering which is caused so often

by a narrow self-centered perspective.

The accident we saw could have easily been prevented by all of

the people involved. The swimmer could have seen the danger of

this environment with junior boys swarming all over the place. He

could have waited ten minutes to swim, and all could have shared

the joy of the setting without pain. A few minutes of sacrifice for the

sake of the others enjoying their activity would have prevented the

accident. Or the leaders of the youth could have seen that the young

man was going to have his own way and swim in that risky

environment. They could have warned the boys to cease all rock

throwing. Neither of these things happened because everybody was

operating from a narrow selfish perspective that saw only

self-interest, and was oblivious to the interest of others. Nobody was

being evil, and nobody wanted anything but pleasure for all, but a

too narrow perspective led to pain.

According to Paul in the text here in Phil. 2, the whole history of

man would be one of suffering without hope had Jesus had a narrow

selfish perspective. Had He said, "It is in my best interest to cling to

equality with the Father," there would not be any plan of salvation.

The whole plan depended on Jesus seeing beyond a selfish to a

sacrificial perspective. The sacrificial perspective sees life from the

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