(excerpt from Morning Meditations by Martin Wiles)
John 12:4-5 But Judas IscariotÖsaid, That perfume was worth a small fortune. It should have sold and the money given to the poor. (NLT)
The suffix ish means belonging to and when attached to a noun turns it into an adjective describing what ish is joined with. Self is a noun that becomes an adjective when ish is attached. Such as babyish. A person who is no longer a baby but who is acting like one.
So while self simply means a person, selfish is a derogatory quality describing the person. No one sets out to be selfish. It happens quite naturally. I was sometimes selfish as a child and so were my children. Itís not a hereditary trait, but it is natural and learned. Give a young child a toy, then ask them to share it with a classmate and see what happens. Better yet, let the classmate come over and snatch it from their hands. Crying, red face, hitting, pulling hair, biting, and pinching are typical responses.
Self is me, so if Iím selfish life is about me. Judas was selfish. While at Lazarusí house, Mary used a jar of perfume worth a dayís wages to anoint Jesusí feet. Judas considered this a waste and reminded Mary she could have sold the perfume and given the proceeds to the poor. A seemingly unselfish suggestion. But John exposes the flaw. Judas didnít really care about the poor. He had a habit of dipping his hand in the cookie jar. Selling the perfume would have meant more money for him.
Mary recognized the need to serve while Judas simply recognized self. His motto was more for me. Unfortunately, selfish attitudes arenít always left behind with childhood but follow us into adulthood. My car, my job, my house, my computer, my IPod, my church, my bed, my wife. Well, you get the picture. Judasí philosophy of more for me has been transmitted.
But Jesus advocates selflessness by reminding us we serve him by serving others. Selfless. Less is the opposite of more and when attached to the noun self means less self. When thereís less of self thereís more for others-and Jesus. And ironically for us too.
Prayer: When Iím tempted to be the ish, God help me be the less.
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