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Summary: Jesus gives us the ultimate gift and teaches us unselfishness as the path of true joy and victory.

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Benefits of Unselfishness

Romans 13:8-10

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A fascinating study on the principle of the Golden Rule was conducted by Bernard Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research. Rimland found that "The happiest people are those who help others."

Each person involved in the study was asked to list ten people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy. Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness: a stable tendency to devote one’s time and resources to one’s own interests and welfare--an unwillingness to inconvenience one’s self for others."

In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those "whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness...are far less likely to be happy than those whose efforts are devoted to making others happy" Rimland concluded: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Jesus said this rule, called by many, the golden rule, sums up the law and the prophets.

In Ernest Gordon’s true account of life in a World War II Japanese prison camp, Through the Valley of the Kwai, there is a story that shows the power of unselfishness. It is about a man who through giving it all away literally transformed a whole camp of soldiers. The man’s name was Angus McGillivray. Angus was a Scottish prisoner in one of the camps filled with Americans, Australians, and Britons who had helped build the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. The camp had become an ugly situation. A dog-eat-dog mentality had set in. Allies would literally steal from each other and cheat each other; men would sleep on their packs and yet have them stolen from under their heads. Survival was everything. The law of the jungle prevailed...until the news of Angus McGillivray’s death spread throughout the camp. Rumors spread in the wake of his death. No one could believe big Angus had died. He was strong, one of those whom they had expected to be the last to die. Actually, it wasn’t the fact of his death that shocked the men, but the reason he died. Finally they pieced together the true story.

The Scottish soldiers took their buddy system very seriously. They believed that is was literally up to each of them to make sure their buddy survived. Angus’s buddy, was dying, and everyone had given up on him, everyone, of course, but Angus. He had made up his mind that his friend would not die. Someone had stolen his buddy’s blanket. So Angus gave him his own, telling his buddy that he had “just come across an extra one.” Likewise, every mealtime, Angus would get his rations and take them to his friend, stand over him and force him to eat them, again stating that he was able to get “extra food.” Angus was going to do anything and everything to see that his buddy got what he needed to recover.


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