Prosocial behavior ∙

Prosocial behavior ∙

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. – Luke 6:35

Philippians 2:3-4

 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

On January 31, 2020, The Week magazine published an article titled, “The parrots to look out for their pals.”

Researchers in Germany have observed parrots carrying out seemingly “selfless” acts of kindness – behavior that has previously only been seen in humans and a few other primates. Désirée Brucks, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, trained several African grey parrots to pass her small metal tokens when she held out her hand, in exchange for a walnut treat.

She then placed two of the birds in adjacent clear-walled compartments with a small opening between them; one compartment also had a hole at the front. Brucks gave the tokens to one parrot, but only the other bird could reach her hand. Immediately, the parrot with the tokens started passing them through the opening to its neighbor, who could then exchange them for food. The first parrot continued to help its feathered friend even though it received nothing in return.

Prosocial behavior is a voluntary pattern of helping behavior where individuals act to benefit others rather than themselves. They have no skin in the game. Prosocial behavior is not demonstrated in all birds. The same experiment was repeated with blue-headed macaws. Their behavior was entirely selfish.

It is natural for fallen people to look after their own interests first. As part of our fallen DNA, we tend to look out for “numero uno.” At the same time, fallen humanity can be generous. The standard that the Father has set for children of the King is far higher. We are to be like our Father. He is kind to those who are ungrateful, malicious, and wicked.

Luke 6:31-35

 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

 32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!

 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!

 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

 35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to Them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

Many of us perform acts of kindness often. Acts of kindness in and of themselves are wonderful ways to treat others. But what is our motivation? Do we do it to impress others? Do we do it to feel good about ourselves? Are we trying to make up for past wrongs?

REFLECT & PRAY

It is natural to put own interests first. It is supernatural to put the interests of others first.

Father what a high and lofty standard You have set. Only through Your supernatural enablement will I ever begin to even try to live up to it. Encourage me, empower me to have an attitude, a way of life for I put others first.

INSIGHT

Helping others and doing good is admirable. However, having the right motivation for our actions is often more important than the actions themselves. Children of the King are to be motivated by the same love and concern that the Father has for us. We are commanded to have the same prosocial attitude that the Lord Christ Jesus had (Philippians 2:5).

Philippians 2:3-4

 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

We are to be humble. “The humble person does not think mainly of himself; he simply does not think of himself at all” (Andrew Murray). We are to know ourselves as we are according to the grace that the Father has bestowed upon us. We should not think ourselves either better or worse than we really are.

Romans 12:3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

“The truly humble person knows himself and accepts himself (Romans 12:3). He yields himself to Christ to be a servant, to use what he is and has for the glory of God and the good of others” (Wiersbe).

Putting our own interests first is natural and normal. Having the same regard for the welfare of others is regrettably rare and extraordinary. We are to be genuinely concerned about the well-being of others, “The key is to take that same level of concern and apply it also to the interests of others. Such radical love is rare” (ESV Notes). This is the standard that the Father has set for all children of the King, pure, unadulterated agape love.

Agape love is “unconquered goodwill that never knows bitterness and never seeks anything but the good of others. It is not a mere reaction of the heart, as human love is; it is a victory of the will, achieved by the help of Jesus Christ. It does not mean loving only those who love us, or those whom we like, or those who are lovable. It means an unconquerable goodwill even to those who hate us, to those whom we do not like, to those who are unlovely” (Barclay).

But there is more. Generous, unselfish giving always provides a generous return.

Luke 6:38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

¯_()_/¯ 2-21-2

© Dr. H 2022

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