Yesterday in Church the message was on what we value. Do we value what God wants or do we value what we want? One of the sections of the Bible referenced was from Luke 14:7-14.
"7When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8"When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.' Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
12Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."Whether you're a believer or not, these are definitely good principles to live by.
In the first section, (verses 7-11) Jesus instructs that we should all be as humble as possible. No matter what your accomplishments, there is always someone better than you or more worthy of honor. Bottom line, it is better to humble yourself and to have others exalt you, than to exalt yourself and be humbled by others.
In the second part, Jesus speaks toward our attitudes towards generosity. So many people dont' do anything unless there's a reward or some form of repayment for their actions. They have the "what's in it for me" attitude. Arguably there is no such thing as pure altruism from a philosophical standpoint, but when people do things for personal gain whether tangible or not, it really lessens (cheapens?) the deed.
As is usually the case, this speaks to me in a very personal way. There have been many times that I've found conversations with others centered on me. This bothers me when I think about it and it's something that I need to consciously work on regularly.
Try being a Good Samaritan quietly sometime or practice random acts of kindness that nobody else will ever find out about. In addition to being truly gratifying, these are the things that will make the world a better place. Not people hearing about how good you are.
People may believe what you say, but they'll always believe what you do!