In 1964, Ayn Rand published a book by that title. I have read portions of the book but cannot say that I did a “cover to cover” analysis. She defined selfishness as “concern with one’s own interests” and the freedom to do so. She believed that equating selfishness with evil brought about “the arrested moral development of mankind.” I’ll not spend time defending or disparaging her ethics. Her life and the logical outcome of the choices based on her beliefs speak for themselves. I feel badly for Ms. Rand. I really wish she would have simply taken the brilliant advice of Jesus, applied His ethics and walked in His ways. Her attempt to develop her own philosophy of life and gain followers was a failure. She tried to invent her own life and wasted the life she had. The teaching of Jesus about self-denial, properly understood, has proven effective in the lives of millions. Applying the wisdom of deferred gratification has brought success to many people that were not even followers of Christ. Virtue, by definition, is “behavior showing high moral standards.” Selfishness is not a virtue. A high moral standard would be characterized by words like, “selfless, giving, deferring, helpful, generous, kind” etc. Jesus gave some simple instructions for life that our selfish desires often violate. Paul explained how the ideals of our Lord could be applied in complex situations as we’ll see on Sunday, Lord willing. Ignoring His good advice most often leads to dysfunction and further complexity.
It’s summer, this is a silly way to start this blog but here we go. I’m not a “snow-mobile guy.” I have never owned one, maintained one or actually even wanted one. However, I have participated in several snow-mobile retreats. Someone loans me a “machine,” or I rent a “sled” so I can join the fun. The people I have joined on these events are in fact, snow-mobile people. They do this for fun all winter, so they drive fast, and generally know what they are doing. When travelling at night on a groomed trail, at 50-60 mph, one must keep a sharp eye on one thing—the tail lights of the machine ahead. This is important for several reasons. First, it’s very easy to get lost. Second, if said machine stops in a hurry, there can be disaster. As to the first reason; the person that one is following is following another person, who is following another person, who is following another person, who is following another person, who is following a leader that has a map. As long as the first person is on the right trail, all is well. However, if the person in the lead makes a wrong turn, all the followers…follow. Getting twenty snow-mobiles turned around at the end of a dead end trail is NOT fun. However, it is possible, and the ride continues. Life is a little like that. It matters who we follow. When Paul wrote, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ,” he was making a clear statement about who has the map! It’s Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One who knows the way. It’s best to take to the trails with Him. He will not lead us astray. If we get lost, He will come for us because He knows where we are—even when we don’t. Friends, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”