Altruism is the principle of living for the good of others; unselfish.
My Bible Study teacher had asked me to do a study on “The Characteristics of Altruism as Evidenced in the Life of Paul and How This Applies to Us Today” for a in-town retreat that are group of Bible Study girls were going to. That was about a year ago, and I thought it would be good to have it on here for you to read and think on.
Test all things hold fast to that which is good. - 1 Thessalonians 5:21
I want to begin this study with telling you that I had googled the word altruism and came up with 2,510,000 sites on the word altruism. I couldn’t even begin to look at all these sites, it’s physically impossible. So I got off the internet and looked in the one Book that could help me with this study of altruism. That Book is the Bible.
I turned to the book of 1 Corinthians, and that is where most of the biblical material is taken from. The versions used in this study are NKJV, NIV, and the Amplified Bible Version.
How many times have you heard the word “Altruism” before? For a few, you might have heard this word before, and for some this might be the first time you’ve heard this word.
Note: You might want to check out 1 Corinthians 8-9 (It might help you understand more)
In the first 3 verses of 1 Corinthians 8, Paul talks about how we know that idols aren’t real or of this world and that it’s ok to eat the meat sacrificed to idols. But in the next verse it says that not all the Corinthian Christians knew this. So in the end some of the Christians were making the weaker Christians stumble, because it was going against there convictions. The weaker Christians thought it was wrong to eat at the idol feast, but as they walked by they might have seen some of there fellow Christians eating there at that feast. So they would question themselves and end up doing what they thought was wrong.
OK you guys are probably thinking, “Whoa, this girl’s nuts! What on Earth is she talking about?” I’m sorry if you’re confused; let me try to explain a little more in detail.
In A.D. 59 (The time that the book of 1 Corinthians was written) Christians in Corinth were having some serious problems. They were doing things that were completely contrary to God’s perfect law. Some of these sins included immorality, sectarianism, division in the church, idolatry, and so on and so forth. So Paul, being the one who started the church in Corinth, had to do something to help his brothers and sisters in Christ. So he wrote them a letter. Hence, the book of 1 Corinthians. Most of the Corinthian Christians were former idol worshippers and so most of them still thought that the idols were real to some extent. So they didn’t want to eat the meat sacrificed to these idols because they thought it was wrong. They were new Christians and they didn’t know that the idols weren’t real and that it was perfectly fine to eat the meat that was sacrificed to the false gods as some of the other Christians knew. So as I explained a couple of paragraphs before, the stronger Christians were making the weaker ones stumble and fall into sin. (I hope that helped!)
When you truly come to know Christ in a personal way, the Holy Spirit convicts you of things in your life that need to go. For me the Holy Spirit convicted me of some CDs that I had in my room. The songs on those CDs were not God honoring so I threw them out.
When you go against these convictions it becomes sin. Sin is anything that displeases the Lord or is a transgression against His holy, and perfect law.
You see, Paul was an altruistic person. What I mean by this is that he was free to go to the feasts at the temples and eat the meat sacrificed to the false gods, but he didn’t. Paul didn’t want to become a stumbling block to the weaker Christians.
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.- 1 Corinthians 8:13
We are also free people, but like Paul we need to be careful about what we do. If you have a friend who you know is extremely addicted to the TV then don’t turn it on when you get together at your house. (Even if your favorite TV show is on.) There are plenty of other things that you could do. It is important for us not to make our weaker brothers and sisters stumble. This is a form of altruism.
1Corinthians 9:19 says, “For though I am free in every way from anyone’s control, I have made myself a bond servant to everyone, so that I might gain the more for Christ.” So Paul was free, he didn’t belong to anyone except Jesus Christ. But as my pastor has said numerous times, he became a bondservant or an under rower. (An under rower is a slave who would row at in the bottom of a large ship) Paul tells us the reason why he did this too. He said that he wanted to win the souls of as many people for Christ as he possibly could. We also as Christians need to become bondservants for Jesus Christ. It won’t be easy, but it is defiantly worth it.
1 Corinthians 9:20-23 says, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak, I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in it’s blessing.” Paul not only cared for these people but he also loved them. If Paul didn’t love these people he wouldn’t have taken the time to get to know them. That’s what he means when he says that he became like a Jew, one under the law, and so on. When you love and care for someone; you want to know everything about that person. Paul did this. He took time to listen and understand the people. Paul wanted to find common ground with these people before confronting them with their need to change.
We also need to do this. We as Christians need to take time out of our schedule (however busy it may be) to talk to and try to understand the people around us. These people would include your next door neighbors, friends that you hang out with, your teammates, even family members fall under this category. This again is another form of altruism.
Another way we can be altruistic like Paul is by not offending people with our life-style. What I mean by this is simply by the way we dress, how we talk, who we talk about, and where we go affects those around us, and we should be careful about these things. For girls, wearing an extremely tight shirt affects those around you. You’re probably say well yeah, that’s what I want, right? Sorry to say but this is wrong. We don’t please the Lord when we dress that way. Sure we please the world, but our top priority should be Jesus not the world. For guys, wearing your pants all the way to your ankles is not God honoring either (in my opinion). There is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a belt every once in a while.
Now I’m not saying that girls have to wear dresses all the time and guys have to wear suits, but we need to honor God with what we wear. Some Christians find tight shirts, and baggy pants offending, and the last thing we need is to have a fellow Christian stumble because of what we wear.
I hope by the examples I’ve shown you that you can see that although altruism is not a common word it is a very important word, and deserves our time and study.
Daily Scripture Verse
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Altruism is the principle of living for the good of others; unselfish.