Unselfishness seeks not his own

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
We are down to a really hard attribute of love in our study of 1 Corinthians 13, often termed “the love chapter” in Scripture. We have discussed love, patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, and now this difficult one to practice or about which to write — being totally unselfish. Are we aware of where most problems come from in our lives? It is of course the devil and his desires to win our heart and life, but he often works through selfishness. We all want our own way and we see that way through rose-colored glasses or based on tunnel vision and a lack of love for others.

When my babies, now grown with babies of their own, were small, I remember having to teach them to share. “Mine, mine, mine,” was the dialog in baby talk that I heard often. They wanted every toy, every snack, every book, and almost every attention of the adults surrounding them. Brent, my son, who is now a pastor of a large church in St. Petersburg, Florida, had a habit of gathering all of his favorite toys around him and perhaps not actually playing with them, but guarding them as if his life depended on their safety. They were clearly his and no one else’s.

My kids were even jealous and selfish of their space. I remember particularly on one long auto trip to Florida, Brent called out from the back seat, “Mamma, DeAnna’s looking at me.” Not touching him, not bothering him or his things, but looking at him. I am pleased to say that Brent outgrew much of that behavior and is now one of the most generous and kind men I know. He pastors his flock well and the people love him.

I fear to write that our habits of being selfish and out for ourselves only intensifies in some as we grow older. Selfishness causes me many problems each week. I manage a Facebook group of over 11,000, along with some other good administrators who work hard to keep the boundaries set when we founded the group after Ike. The biggest and most often recurring problems we face on this and in another business group is that people are selfish. They want the rules to apply to everyone else but them. One of the owners writes constantly in a negative manner telling on one or the other of the businesses in his area. He complains about the high rate of advertising, the lack of customers, and the unfair treatment he has received.

Selfish people want special consideration, favors, and exemption from the rules, especially in the business group. They push the envelope every chance they get. Our rules clearly state one ad per week so that everyone has a fair shot at our potential customers. So, they join together and promote each other’s businesses thinking they are sly and smart. I often laugh at their antics and the fact that they think they are winning the battle.

Selfishness turns people off. It runs them away. No one wants to play or be around a selfish person. Every human I know wants a fair turn at life and the things he deems important and that is acceptable with God. There is good pride and bad pride. But being selfish and demanding are not good qualities. Professor Henry Drummond wrote that the only greatness truly is unselfish love. It is difficult to be totally unselfish. We are born wanting our own way.

Let’s make a deal — Let’s try this week to monitor our selfish side. Stop before we do or act selfishly. Put others first. I think we’ll be surprised at how much better our worlds are if we literally put others ahead of ourselves as much as possible. Mama Cole always taught me that sweet honey draws more than sour vinegar any time of the day or night.

Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788, or

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