Posted by: Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC | February 17, 2011

The Great Paradox of Life: Selfishness, Hedonism, and Joy

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”  (Bold print my own.)

A few weeks ago I read this passage for a women’s Bible study, and the word “nothing” caught me by surprise.  It almost lifted off the page to stand alone. I’ve read the verse many times over the past several years, but never has the word “nothing” captured my heart like it did this time.

American culture screams,” It’s all about me.”  Selfishness is the hallmark of today’s culture and the phrase, ”Do nothing out of selfish ambition…” is completely the opposite. The American Dream is much ado about self, getting it all and having it all so then we can be happy.  Yet the wealthy suburbs in America have the highest rates of depression and suicide, and the Amish have the lowest rates.  This isn’t really surprising because the more people have, the more they want and the more they tend to worry.  Yet the “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…” speaks of a greater cause, a greater calling – than self.  So contrary to today’s thought stream of, “Get out of my way because it’s all about me.”

About eight years ago I wrote a booklet saying that our economy would spiral down quickly because the majority of Americans have replaced the cross with the almighty dollar sign. (The booklet was never published and I only submitted it to one publisher before pursuing my body image book.)  We had become a nation which cares much more about self and hedonism than God.  In the Old Testament, every time that happened, the economy crumbled and so it seemed obvious to me that the same would happen soon, which it did. We were living in a way that is opposite to the scripture, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition.”  Self and fun were the names of the game.  Yet Jesus preached, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it,” Matthew 16: 25.  Jesus turned the tables on life’s rules, and he encourages us to be selfless and to give of our time and our resources because that is where true happiness resides.  What if we could tattoo on our hearts, “It’s all about giving of self,” instead of, “It’s all about me.”?


Responses

  1. Well that puts my business decisions into perspective! :) Nothing is pretty hard to maintain. And it makes me wonder what exactly my life would look like if I actually gave it a whole-hearted effort. Good stuff, Cherrie!


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