What if you could look down the line and see what was going to come about in the next few years in the country? What if you were given a choice? You could look at the programs that will be available to you in a few years or perhaps already are available to you. You hear from many sources that the very programs you are leaning so heavily upon are headed toward bankruptcy. But you are given a choice. You can choose to keep getting your share of Social Security and Medicare knowing you will be able to receive it for the remainder of your life but if you take that choice your children and grandchildren will face a time when, even though they have paid into both the funds, it runs out of funds and has to be scaled way back. What choice would you make in such a situation?
In days past in this nation and even in the world as a whole, most likely the majority of people would have said, “I’ll sacrifice now so my children and grandchildren can have things better than what I have. When you go back into the Bible it was common for leaders like Abraham to be given promises by God that would only be fulfilled four hundred years later by his descendants. I remember in growing up when it was common to hear parents talk about wanting things to be better for their children than it had been for them. But something has happened along the way. Now it is far more common to hear grandparents declaring that if anyone touches their social security or Medicare they will be voted down every time. It comes across as a bunch of selfish old people who are willing for their grandchildren to go without as long as they get what they want. What has happened to us that we have become so self centered that we don’t care what happens to others, even our own off spring, as long as we get what we need or want.
In one of the most powerful passages from the pen of Paul he deals with the attitude we need to be real Christ followers. It is in Philippians 2:1-5. He starts with a series of “If’s”. “If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, fulfill my job by being like minded by being of the same mind and same spirit. Let nothing be done by strife or selfish ambition but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Do not look everyone on his own interest alone but also on the interest of others and let each of you have the same attitude as Christ.” Selfish attitudes lead to a divided church. But it is more than just that. Selfishness destroy’s families, isolates people and turns everyone into a “me first” jerk.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit with a group of young people who were traveling this country from other countries around the world. In trying to engage them I asked several questions about life in their home land. But the question which brought the most interesting answers was, “What have you seen in this country that has been most puzzling to you?” For a little bit they talked among themselves in coming up with an answer. Then they all seemed to reach an agreement of what was strangest or most puzzling. It was as though they had a joint “Yes” in agreement. Then one of them answered for the rest. He said, “What is most puzzling to us is the patriotism in this country. Young people are ready to volunteer to serve in the armies and risk their lives to protect their country or support the ideals of the nation.” When I asked them why that was so puzzling to them they all seemed to want to answer at the same time. One of the young men from Brazil said, “in our country no one would feel such loyalty or love for the country that they would fight or die to protect the nation.” Another of the young ladies said, “We learn very early to take care of ourselves and let everyone else do the same.” I asked, “what about the people who aren’t able to take care of themselves?” They looked at each other but never answered the question.
When I see people who believe in some principle or have such deep love for someone else they are ready to risk their lives to save them, I wonder how long it will be before selfishness takes over in our part of the world. It seems to me that a lot of older folks have already turned from the concern for others to just taking care of self?