“Don’t be selfish” seems to be one of those phrases that bounces off the walls daily when you have kids. From arguments about sharing toys to bigger discussions about prioritizing the family’s time, selfishness thrusts itself into every facet of our lives.
As pervasive as the call to “not be selfish” is, the Bible calls us to something more than that – it’s not just a refusal to put our own desires first, but a willing spirit to put the needs and desires of others before our own.
So how do we move from the negative conversation with our kids (and ourselves) – “don’t be selfish,” – to the positive conversation – “learn to be selfless.” The Bible is a great place to start! We’ll look at 3 Bible stories that show us the true meaning of selflessness. As you read these stories, take time to reflect on how each person in the story acted.
3 Bible Stories That Teach Your Kids About Selflessness
The Good Samaritan
This parable of Jesus gives us two amazing examples of selflessness. First, in his introduction to the parable, Jesus has an exchange with a lawyer who asks how he can get eternal life. When Jesus turns the question back to him – asking what is written in the Law – the lawyer recites the verse “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus affirms his answer – and Jesus has said the same “love your neighbor as yourself” before. This is what it means to be selfless!
Then Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is perhaps the most famous parable. In it, a man is robbed, beaten and left to die on the road, and then he is ignored by a priest and a Levite. A Samaritan helps him – and Samaritans were the last people on earth that Jews expected help from! Jews looked down on Samaritans and often didn’t even interact with them! There was a lot of tension between Jews and Samaritans, so Jesus’ story is shocking to his original audience. Not only is he showing them that loving their neighbor means even neighbors they don’t like, but he is showing that the Samaritan showed selflessness in putting his neighbor first. This is a great story to use as a jumping off point for conversations with your kids!
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The story of Esther is a beautiful example of selflessness! She is married to an angry king, and when her cousin Mordecai tells her that the king’s advisor Haman wants to kill all of the Jews, she knows what she has to do as a Jew. She knows she has to ask King Xerxes to stop Haman, but she also knows she can be killed for approaching the King without permission! She tells Mordecai, “then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Esther’s selflessness and willingness to risk her life ends up saving her people, the Jews!
Related Episodes on Minno:
VeggieTales: Esther – The Girl Who Became Queen
What’s in the Bible?: Brave Queen Esther
Holy Moly: Queen Esther
Friends and Heroes: Doing Our Part
Story Songs from Scripture: Esther’s Song
Bug Time Adventures: Not to Bee
1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13 is a famous passage about love, read at many weddings. But what kind of love is it describing? If we look closely at verses 4-7, Paul is describing selflessness! Selflessness is loving other people – it is being patient and kind, it is not being envious of what other people have, it is not rude to other people. Being impatient, rude and envious are all signs of selfishness, because they put you first. It is the same with being irritable or resentful; these traits mean you care more about your own comfort or pleasure than the comfort or pleasure of the person you love. Paul is describing perfect, selfless love in this passage! Ask your kids questions as you read this passage about when they feel most loved, and how they can best show selfless love to the people around them.