Is selfish behavior harming you? The answer is yes, of course. But, do you know why it harms you? Selfish behavior robs you of becoming your true self, the person that God wants you to be. When we listen only to ourselves and do only what we want, we close ourselves off to blessings and lessons of life. Father Romano Guardini explains it well in his book, Learning the Virtues That Lead You to God:
“As soon as the person fixes his eye upon himself, he fills the mental space, so to speak, in which a portion of life is to take place; he gets in the way of his own realization” (p. 154).
Imagine what it would be like to meet Jesus at your own personal judgment, and hear Him say, oh, what you could have become, if only you would have opened your heart to all that I had in mind for you and shared your gifts with others! So many more opportunities for success, as you define it, would have come your way! – Ouch! That would hurt, wouldn’t it?
It is when we give that we receive, but we so often fail to acknowledge this fact. In this dog-eat-dog world, everyone is looking out for themselves – the survival instinct kicks in. We are so focused on the temporal needs of this world, that we neglect the spiritual – out of selfishness. We ignore one of the Greatest Commandments to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:39). We fail to give the listening ear; to share extra food from our pantry; to pass on our faith to the next generation. When we fail to give of ourselves, to love our neighbor, what do we get in return? Nothing!
Here’s another thought from Father Guardini’s book:
“The vain, calculating person who lives only for himself thinks that he is attaining a fuller, stronger selfhood. In reality, he is becoming interiorly crippled because he never moves in that free space which only unselfishness creates” (p. 156).
Our minds are limited, whereas God is all-knowing. Our vision is clouded, whereas God’s vision is clear. What we think we selfishly want in this life, may not bring us the greatest happiness. What it all boils down to is this: we really don’t know what we’re missing, unless we open our hearts to God and let Him lead us; let Him show us what He wants us to become.
Everyone enters our lives for a reason. Don’t be so selfish as to close the door on relationships simply because you can’t see any good reason for it. Instead, be open to what God provides. Perhaps a person comes into your life to teach you something, or to give you something. Perhaps a person enters your life because you are supposed to be the one who teaches or gives of your own talents. Either way, if you have submitted your will to God and aligned it with His will, you will find yourself – the unselfish person that you are meant to be!
Why be selfless? We’ll address the answer to that question, in our next reflection on the virtue of unselfishness. Don’t miss it!
This post also appears on www.catholicbloggersnetwork.com.