Selfish or Selfless?

The very first call in the prayer book invitation to a holy Lent is to self-examination. As we continue our forty day journey through the season of Lent, today we share these words of wisdom and inspiration from our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calling us to self-examination as we strive to walk the way of love.

I’ve had people ask whether the way of love is a realistic approach to life. If I’m a CEO, or a member of Congress, can I really build a life around love? Can I if I’m a prosecutor and I see the worst of human beings? My response is: If you think love is a sentiment, no. But if you understand that love is a commitment, the answer is yes.

In the past couple years I’ve started thinking of love less as a sentiment and more as a commitment to a way of being with others. As a sentiment, love is more about what I’m getting out of it than what you’re getting out of it. But as a commitment, love means I’m seeking your self-interest as well as my own—and maybe above and beyond mine. 

That kind of unselfishness is actually how Jesus talked about love most of the time in the New Testament—the Greek word that’s used is agape. That’s the kind of love you see in a person who has done something selfless for you and affected your life for the good: a parent, teacher, Scout leader, or coach. Take that further and you realize that there has been no social good that’s been intentionally done apart from this kind of love. 

We don’t give people Nobel Peace prizes for selfishness. We recognize those people because they’ve given of themselves without counting the cost to themselves. So, I’ve been playing with the mantra:

Is the action I’m contemplating selfish or selfless?
I invite folks to just ask that question throughout the day: Selfish or selfless?

Life’s Work: An Interview with Bishop Michael Curry

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