"It's better to have it and not need it than to want it and not have it."
That bumper-sticker advice - all too common in our what's-in-it-for-me world - is not only contrary to the teachings of God but, as day-to-day practical advice, just doesn't make sense.The problem, of course, centers on one focusing on oneself. Or, more succinctly, being selfish.
Throughout the secular and religious history of the world, whenever individuals have cared more for themselves than for others, they have stumbled, faltered and usually fallen.
Perhaps the best example of that - as well as an explanation of why selfishness is such a strong temptation to man - is Lucifer himself, who, before this world was, sought to bring praise, honor and glory to himself.
"Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
". . .and (they created) an earth whereon these may dwell;
"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them." (Abr. 3:22, 24-25.)
No sooner, it seems, than had the Father presented this wondrous plan than Satan, selfishly trying to manipulate that which was good, attempted to alter the plan which would allow him to steal the benefits of the Father's plan.
SatanT is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying - Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
"But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me - Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
"Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
"And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice." (Moses 4:1-4.)
Satan was cast down. His selfishness profited him nothing.
So, drawing on his first-hand experience in being so self-centered, Satan, it seems, determined that one way to make us miserable like unto himself was to get us to be similarly selfish.
And in our world today he has a great deal of help.
Perhaps that's what was going through the mind of a busy father one evening as he returned from his thrice-weekly jog, ever hopeful that his activity would help him maintain some degree of physical fitness, and ever mindful that such time took him away from what seemed to be ever-present family, Church and employment opportunities and duties.
The running, he maintained, was as good mentally as it was physically. It provided time to stretch mind and muscle simultaneously. Yet he hoped the routine - coupled with a pressing work and Church schedule - would not infringe upon his family.
A s he neared his home, he passed the house of a neighbor who, judging from the number of recreational items parked in the driveway and stowed in the garage, might have been stockpiling earthly treasures that could easily be corrupted by moth and rust or stolen by thieves. (See Matt. 6:19.)
But the biblical view didn't initially cross the father's mind.
"How would it be," his thoughts strayed, "to have more things, fewer obligations and more time - to do what I want?"
But before he had even completed that thought, he saw the man, sitting alone beside his possessions, without family or friends. The jogger's friendly wave was probably the only human association the man had had that night.
The scriptures, of course, were correct. In laying up treasures in heaven - in this case giving of oneself - one also lays up valuable earthly opportunities and experiences.
As with most things in life, balance is the key. Some, oddly enough, must be careful that in losing themselves in the service of others they don't ignore individual needs and bring harm to themselves.
But in general the time spent giving is among the most joyful of one's life.