“Hey, kids! Share your toys!”
“Save some cookies for your brother!”
Parents need to improve their children’s behaviour frequently. Why? Because babies are born selfish, the most selfish people on the planet. It does not come naturally to a child to share with others. It takes years of consistent example by self-less parents and constant reminding to teach children to look not just to their own needs but to the needs of others.
The Flight Attendant Story
I sometimes wonder what little kids think when they hear a flight attendant tell their mommy to be selfish. You’ve listened to them on every flight. After the seat belt demonstration come the instructions for the oxygen mask. “If you are travelling with a small child, first put on your own mask, then put the mask on your child.”
How selfish! How unloving! What a terrible example to a little kid!
No, not really! When mommy makes sure she stays conscious, she is acting in practical love to her poor, gasping little daughter beside her. It’s a fundamental principle of life. We must look after our own basic needs first before we can meet the needs of others.
Jesus, like the flight attendant, taught the same thing. How do we love our neighbour? First, love yourself, then love your neighbour as you love yourself. That was the preface to Jesus’ famous story of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help the naked, bleeding victim of a vicious mugging. The hero in this story not only felt sorry for the victim, but he also had wine and oil to cleanse the wounds, and he had cloth for bandages. He had enough clothing for the victim to wear and a donkey for him to ride on. And when they arrived at the inn, he had money to pay the innkeeper for food and rent. (Luke 10:25-37)
Before starting his journey, the Good Samaritan first looked after his own needs for the trip. Since he had supplied himself to meet his own needs, he could now share some of his supplies and clothing to meet the naked bleeding, robbery victim’s needs. By loving himself first, he could give what he had as an act of love to someone else.
Your Story and Ours
The Bible teaches that our human instinct to love ourselves and care for our own needs is normal and natural. Satan, of course, wants to pervert this natural instinct, and he tempts us to focus only on meeting our own needs. That is why we need to follow the Bible’s teaching to “look also on the needs of others.”
Our world abounds in opportunities to show love to others—a pot of freshly made soup for some sick friend, a bag of winter clothes to distribute among the indigent, donations to the Food Bank. And missionaries keep telling us about people’s enormous physical and spiritual needs in third-world countries.
God is pleased when we reject Satan’s temptation to be selfish, but we must not be so focused on the needs of others that we neglect our own physical, mental, and spiritual health. We must first take care to have a strong relationship with God. Then we must take care of our family members and our work responsibilities. If we don’t care for our own spiritual, mental, physical, family, and financial needs, how can we possibly make an impact for good on the needs of people around us? We would be like a mommy who disobeys the flight attendant’s orders and tries to help her little girl first, but both end up slumped unconscious in their seats.
Jo and I were tempted at times to focus all our energies on meeting the numerous needs of the Canela people with whom we worked in our younger years. Sometimes we neglected to meet our own needs for rest and recreation. Sometimes we even failed to meet each other’s needs. It might sound very “dedicated” to focus so intensely on meeting the needs of others, but, as Jesus taught, we can’t love others properly unless we love ourselves first.
Jesus and the Flight Attendant first appeared on Jack's INsights & OUTbursts.
Copyright © 2022 The Wordman, All rights reserved.