The apostle Paul wrote, ‘I don’t want what you have—I want you… I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.’ (2 Corinthians 12:14–15 NLT) Paul found his greatest fulfilment in giving, not receiving. For him, giving was its own reward. For him, being successful meant making others successful. For him, being joyful meant bringing joy to others. That’s because he didn’t look to people for his reward, but to God: ‘Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do.’ (Ephesians 6:8 NLT)
The hardest thing for most of us to do is to fight our natural tendency to put ourselves first. That’s why it’s important to continually examine your motives and make sure you’re not sliding backwards into selfishness. If you want to check your motives, follow the example set by Benjamin Franklin. Every day he asked himself two questions. When he got up in the morning he would ask, ‘What good am I going to do today?’ And before he went to bed he would ask, ‘What good have I done today?’ If you can answer those questions with selflessness and integrity, you can keep yourself on track. Seeing those in need, and giving to meet that need, keeps your priorities and your perspective right. It increases the quality of life for both the giver and the receiver. The truth is, there is no life as empty as the self-centred life, and there is no life as centred as the self-empty life.