Today's topic is a tricky one, so take a moment and think this through before making a judgment...
As the ultimate example of a LEADER, Jesus appeals to the self-interest in others. He shows people what they can gain in the Long Term by doing what He says: He gives a reason (CAUSE) and a value. (Next week, we will see more examples from the Bible where Jesus gives a reason and a value when He makes a request.)
Notice, Jesus does NOT appeal to people through altruism...this falls under the second way to influence people which we called "begging" and saw was the method used by a BOSS. Jesus doesn't say, "I don't care how you do it, just give me the EFFECTS." Jesus does NOT say give and you won’t get anything in return.
A lot of people preach an altruistic (begging) Jesus. They will even tell you not to be "selfish". Yet somewhere in their presentation they eventually contradict themselves by appealing to (and counting on) your "selfishness" in order to get you to follow them! They will eventually try to convince you by showing you the value you will receive.
More interestingly, THEY won't allow the same altruistic technique THEY preach to work on them. Try this the next time someone preaches the merits of "altruism" to you...ask them for money. Notice, the FIRST thing they will say to you: "WHY should I give you money?" If you do it quick enough, the person may set a World Record for hypocrisy! The second they asked WHY, they were denying altruism.
The truth is that every dictator that has ever existed starts off as an emotional BOSS...an "altruistic leader". They tell the people to think of others above themselves and not get anything in return but a good feeling. Soon after people give into this feeling, the dictator says he has to force people to be good and the dictatorship is born. For example who stated the following?:
"It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole ... that above all the unity of a nation's spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual...
"This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise ... The basic attitude from which such activity arises, we call -- to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness -- idealism. By this we understand only the individual's capacity to make sacrifices for the community, for his fellow men."
What is wrong with this? Aren't we supposed to be unselfish? Aren't we just supposed to produce a requested effect without getting a logical reason and a value? The speaker of the quote? Adolf Hitler, Oct. 7, 1933. When people preach an altruistic Jesus, they are saying Jesus used the same methods as Hitler.
It would seem to me that we would have realized this by now and demonized this emotional tactic. Yet, all groups, both religious and worldly leaders, consistently use it to get their way.
Jesus doesn’t want a dictatorship. He has a reason for everything He does and He’s constantly focused on appealing to your self-interest. Jesus is a perfect LEADER because He is a servant: He facilitates the purpose and progress of OTHERS and He appeals to others by what helps them make progress.
Before we finish this post, let me be perfectly clear about "selfishness". Some people say we are not supposed to be "selfish". However, we are supposed to do what benefits us most in the Long Term. The cause of the confusion is that people don’t distinguish between short-term and Long Term benefits…that is, people don't think and use their words in a non-contradictory manner.
For instance, having an affair may benefit a woman in the short-term, but is that really in her self-interest? Does she really want to have guilt, make the effort to hide her actions, and eventually deal with God because she broke her vow to her husband? No, it would be in her Long Term self-interest to not have an affair. She is actually being "selfish" when she doesn’t have an affair.
However, when most people say “selfish”, what they mean is short-term self-interest. The problem is they demonize people who focus on Long Term selfishness. If they mean we should NOT focus on our Long Term self-interest, they are contradicting Jesus.
Next week we will see the Bible records that Jesus appealed to our long-term benefit. Especially when it came to salvation. In addition, what is the ultimate long-term best interest of an individual while on earth? To take direction from God and become who we were created to be. This would require a person to focus on themself through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus leads us by appealing to our Long Term self-interest with logic.