I was quietly having my lunch one day in a local sandwich shop when I noticed the haphazard way one of the employees was wiping down the tables. Instead of collecting the crumbs, lettuce, and stray chips to throw in the garbage, she was just nonchalantly pushing it all onto the floor…
Always looking for an opportunity to rib someone, I said, “Hey, you can’t do that.”
She looked up with a smile on her face and responded, “It doesn't matter. I’m not gonna be here to clean it up.”
I tilted my head and laughed. But, as I sat there, I started to think, It does matter! Yes, it may not matter to her, but what about the poor soul who’s going to have to vacuum and mop all the stuff she’s pushing on the floor, especially after it’s been trampled and crushed for several more hours?” Her action was going to cost someone else a lot of unnecessary work. That is what generally happens when selfishness rules the day.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the woman’s attitude because it’s probably the norm for most of our society. To be honest, we all battle selfishness to a certain extent, though some of us are more calculated and cunning in how we express it. After all, as Christians we are pretty skilled at learning how to make ourselves look good and mask our more undesirable attitudes and actions. Selfishness—making everything about us—is a real temptation.
Yet, that’s not God’s will, and it should not be the norm for those of us who follow Jesus. The Apostle Paul said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…” (Phil. 2:3-5, emphasis added).
As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. A measure of selflessness rather than selfishness. A commitment to excellence and diligence regardless of the task. A concern for others and not just ourselves. So, the next time we are tempted to push the trash on the floor, we should consider this thought: It does matter. It matters to God and to the people who must bear the consequences of our actions.
If that thought is not enough to deter us, then we must humble ourselves and confess our actions for what they really are—sin.