“Goodness is something so simple: always to live for others, never to seek one’s own advantage.”
Harry Tupper is a fishing legend here in Idaho. In fact there's a place on Henry's Lake near Staley Springs that’s named for him: Tupper's Hole it's called.
I fished alongside Harry a time or two several years ago, but I never lingered long. He tended to be a little cranky and would shoo you away if you got too close.
The thing I remember most about Harry, aside from his rare ability to hook those huge Henry’s Lake hybrids, was his dog, Dingo. Now there was a dog!
Dingo used to sit alongside Harry in his boat and watch him intently while he fished. When the old fisherman hooked a trout, Dingo would bark furiously until the fish was netted and released.
As Dingo got older he spent a good portion of each day sleeping in the bottom of Harry’s boat. He would snooze until Harry hooked a trout, and then rouse himself out of slumber, shake himself, and bark to show his approval. Then he would lie down and go back to sleep. (I once saw Harry hook a fish and nudge the slumbering dog gently with his toe so Dingo could wake up and bark his applause.)
Harry and Dingo are gone now, more is the pity, but their “dance of two” often comes to mind. Dingo had it right: it’s better to get more excited about what others are doing than what we’re doing ourselves.
Paul put it this way: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in humility of mind let each one of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not look out for your own personal interests, but also look out for the interests of others”—a concept so staggering that Paul has to validate it by the example of Jesus, “who was in very nature God,” but who emptied himself of self–interest, and became a servant to all—who gave his entire life to further others’ interests and ultimately to secure their eternal salvation (2:3-8).
This was the “attitude” of Jesus, or, as we would say, his “mind–set” and the attitude we’re to adopt as well. For in self–giving, if anywhere, we manifest the essence of God’s character, for it has always been God’s nature to think more of others than he thinks of himself. Why else would he humble himself, “and became obedient to death — even death on a cross” (2:8).
God knows we regard ourselves too highly. Our natural response to every issue is to consider our own interests first, to look at everything from the perspective of our own needs and wants. The call here is to unlearn that natural proclivity. What are others’ best interests? What do they want? What concerns do they have; what needs do they feel?
And so, I ask myself, do I deem others’ interests more important than my own? Do I get as excited about what God is doing in and through them as I do about what he is doing in and through me? Do I long to see others grow in grace and gain recognition though it may have been my efforts that made them successful? Do I find satisfaction in seeing my spiritual children outstrip me in the spiritual work they are called to do?
Do you? If so, this is the measure of our greatness, for we are most like God when our thoughts for ourselves are lost in our thoughts for others. Such simplicity; no greater love (John 15:13).