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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Selfishness (02/14/05)

TITLE: Gracefully yours
By Edmond Ng


We face inconsiderate people every day, people who jump queues, people who leave things along narrow pathways, people who occupy more than their share of space in single seats within subway trains, and people who are seemingly oblivious to the existence of others or their surroundings. These are just some of the many expressions of selfishness, and if we have committed such acts at one time or other, it is not surprising.

The Cambridge Advanced Dictionary defines the word 'selfish' as someone who only thinks of his or her own advantage without regard for others. We may at times not be aware we acted selfishly, but this is no excuse for failing to consider others first. The Bible teaches:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; (Philippians 2:3 NAS)

We must therefore cultivate gracefulness in order to minimize selfishness. In this article, the author proposes ten steps in which we can achieve this goal.

The first step is to always consider others first (Philippians 2:3). For example, we can give way to others who are getting out of the subway train before we push our way in. We can avoid accidents by not standing near escalators and by not placing obstacles such as trolley or prams at narrow pathways. We can lend a hand to help the handicap or at least give way to them. We can do much more when we consider others' welfare more important than ours.

Second, in every of our action, think whether it will hurt others or put them in disadvantaged positions (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; 1 Peter 2:1)? For example, in telling our workplace supervisors about certain actions of others, do we deliberately create a better position or an unfair advantage for ourselves at the expense of others? Do we take leave to avoid carrying out some duties, imposing on others to cover our work?

Third, when making plans for actions, do we put God in our plans and consider how to help others (Luke 14:28-30; Matthew 7:24, 26)? For example, if we are building a public facility, do we provide conveniences for the handicap or consider for people who are less privileged?

Fourth, quit non-etiquette behavior such as those viewed as deviancy, undesirable, or distasteful (Matthew 5:48; Romans 8:12-13; 1 Peter 14-16). For example, turning the radio up loud on public transport or at public places, blowing noses or spitting, desiring gifts not meant for us, or accumulating massive food on the plate during buffet meals.

Fifth, acquire good and ethical practices from others, including from people of other cultures (2 Timothy 1:17). For example, clearing our own waste after eating, returning unused packets of spices to the food suppliers, and giving up seats to people needing it more.

Sixth, learn to give. It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). A goodwill performed reaps manifold returns (2 Corinthians 9:6). Pay it forward and we will experience the incomprehensible joy of helping others.

Seventh, do not do anything from selfishness or conceit (Philippians 2:3), always thinking to exercise our rights or assuming ourselves as more deserving than others.

Eighth, do not be too calculative or expect reciprocal returns from others (Luke 6:35).

Ninth, do not expect a hundred percent quality in everything, be it services, products, or relationships. There is no perfection on earth (Philippians 1:6). Understanding this will help us not to expect beyond the ability of Man or to act without consideration for others.

Tenth, be considerate in all things because we want to, not because we have to, or because we are told to. Do it from the heart (Matthew 6:1; Luke 6:45).

The way to eliminate selfishness is to work towards gracefulness. We know our purpose on earth is not to accumulate material wealth but to do the will of God (Ephesians 1:11-12). We must therefore learn to live our lives gracefully, and stamp out selfishness completely.

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Member Comments
Member Date
donna robinson02/21/05
What I think of when I read this was the bible talking about the greatest of these is love. It was as if jesus knew that if we could love, we would not hurt, waste or be spiteful. We would not be able to put ourselves first because love of others would be more prevailing. Good thoughts here.
Crista Darr02/24/05
You have the gift of teaching and your story was well written. As a mother I'm encouraged to teach my children this graciousness now.
Deborah Parker02/27/05
I like lessons to be less preachy and more personable. Good scripture references though.
Shellie Power02/28/05
You've made some great points. This would read great as "10 Commandments" or to lighten it up a bit you could turn it into a "Top Ten" list.