For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:27, NIV
We know that God is loving and generous. He gave His only begotten Son so that we could be redeemed and through Jesus He gives us all things. This is fantastic, but how often to we think of God as being totally unselfish? Think about that for a moment: A Divine Being Who does nothing for His own benefit, but always works for the benefit of the ones He has chosen to love.
If you can grasp this, it will blow your mind. God does nothing for His Own benefit.
He did not create the universe for His Own benefit. He was perfect and complete within Himself before He ever uttered a creation word. In fact, He foresaw the pain it would bring Him; nevertheless, He created the world, gave Adam and Eve a free will and did not stop them from their rebellion.
God did not give the Law for His own benefit. The Law is a reflect of His holiness. He knows and does what is perfectly right every single time. It was us who did not know how to live properly. It was us who needed to know how to live God-like in a sinful world and what to do when we messed up. It was us that need the direction on how to get the best out of life. And the greatest “best out of life” is learning to have a relationship with the One Who is Life: Jesus Christ.
But isn’t God’s wrath and judgment, God acting in selfish retaliation for our disobedience to His commands? That’s what the ungodly often think. Remember, God’s Wrath is not an emotional vindictive temper tantrum as it is sometimes with us humans. God’s Wrath is an expression of His righteous indignation at the violation of His character and the harm of His creation. You may experience a mild form of this [mild in comparison to God’s indignation, but NOT mild in your experience] if a close friend is murdered or raped and the assailant is released from penalty because of a technicality. You burn with indignation at the injustice of it. God burns with indignation at the injustice of our sinful actions. His righteous Nature cannot allow injustice to ultimately succeed. But this is not self-centredness. Justice must prevail because that is Who God is.
And, of course, you know that the great, overwhelming love of God motivated the totally unselfish action of becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ, experiencing the full wrath/justice of God on our behalf and allowing us the escape our just punishment and experience the full righteousness of Jesus. This, by itself, shows that our unselfish God acts in a totally unselfish way. There was absolutely nothing, other than His love for us, that would motivate such an action. God is complete in Himself. We can add nothing. He would be just as complete if we were all sentenced to hell.
Hell is sometimes thought of as God acting in self-interest, but it is not. No human being or angel is a threat to Him. Satan tried rebellion and lost. God doesn’t need to send people to Hell to protect Himself. Sin is a hideous cancer which has infected the entire universe. It never stops. It grows. It consumes. It destroys and adds nothing of value. Through Jesus Christ, God has provided a way for us to escape our just punishment. If we refuse it, in this lifetime, then we will enter the eternal quarantine zone we call Hell. To protect the universe and everyone in it [except God, of course] sin and those infected with it must be totally and completely cut off. If Hell is just needed to quarantine sin, why is it a place of torment? Sin, stripped of its false glitter, is ultimate pain. Being shut away from God, Who is the Source of Life and every good thing, is torment. A God of Justice cannot allow us to escape the consequences of our actions [including original sin], if we reject the only way of salvation - the way that cost Him so much - Jesus Christ.
Some atheists like to paint God as an egomaniac for requiring praise and worship. They totally misunderstand the unselfish nature of God and of reality, for that matter. God is the only Being Who is totally Self-Aware. God has no self-discovery. He knows Himself completely. He has no pride in His Being. He just knows how great and wonderful, etc. He is. He has no need of anyone to tell Him. Even at its best, our praise and worship, fall so far short of appreciating the greatness of God and Who He is that is less than microscopic. No, praise and worship is not for God’s benefit, although He does delight in it. He requires it for our benefit. It causes us to focus on Someone greater than ourselves. It helps us defeat our own selfishness and narrow vision. It gives God permission to act in our lives. It shows that we really do appreciate what He has done for us. And so much more.
We need to note that just because God does nothing out of self-interest, does not mean that He always does what we want. A God Who is unselfish cannot be manipulated. God is God. It does mean that He is always acting for our best and highest interest both now and in eternity. That means allowing us to go through hard things and sometimes suffer [and suffering right along beside us]. He takes no joy in suffering, for He loves to bless, but as He looks at the Big Picture some things are necessary for our ultimate good. He loves us too much to have less than the best. This is our confidence when we are going through painful struggles: God is not allowing this from any self-interest or revenge, but because He loves us and is working out the best for us.
As we consider this, how do we grow in Christian maturity and show Christ to the world around us? We do both of those things as we learn to grow in unselfish - no hidden motives - service to others. This is how we genuinely reflect the image of God in our sinful world. Jesus was the perfect image of God and He lived a totally unselfish life. Sin is all about selfishness - my pleasure, my benefit, my… Holiness, being God-like, is all about living for the benefit of others. This does not mean being a doormat. As mentioned above, because God is unselfish He cannot be manipulated. When we honestly have the best interest of someone else at heart, they may not like it. In fact, they may misunderstand and resent it because it limits their current pleasures. For example, a parent who gives into the whines and demands of their child is acting selfishly [relief from stress] not courageously in the child’s best interest.
None of us will ever match God’s totally unselfish behaviour, but we can grow toward it. Christians of all time have worked and given to serve others in genuine love. And so it continues today through you and I and millions of others around this globe.