Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

November 3, 2013


Wrapped up in yourself you are a very small package


        Benjamin Franklin said it well: “A person wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” Years later Harry Emerson Fosdick amended the statement to read: “A person wrapped up in himself makes a small package.”

        Whether bundle or package, the point is clear: Self-centeredness makes one a small person whose concerns are dominated by the words “I, me, and mine.”

        In God’s eyes such a person is a fool. That is the lesson we learn from the parable Jesus told about a rich man who built bigger barns to store “all my grain and my goods.” He was so obsessed with himself, Jesus said, that he missed the chance to become “rich toward God.”

        Self-interest is normal. We all need a reasonable amount of it to survive and to achieve. But we must not allow it to rule our lives. Self-interest should be balanced by concern for others. Marriage, for example, never succeeds until both husband and wife learn to say “our” more than “mine.”

        Unselfish, caring people are admired universally. Mother Teresa is a classic example. Her devotion to suffering, dying people made her the epitome of self-giving.  Most of us would like to be more like her. None of us wishes to be known as a small person wrapped up in our own selfishness.

        The author Rita Snowden once shared this caustic remark made about a self-centered woman: “Edith lived in a little world, bounded on the north, south, east and west by Edith.” Edith was absorbed with Edith! And the result was a small “bundle,” a pitiful person wrapped up in self-interest.

        The remark about Edith prompts me to recall a line from Robert Frost. He described a man this way: “He was a light to no one but himself.” What a chilling summary of a human being.

        Years ago we sang it often – the old gospel song titled “Others.” The refrain says it all: “Others, Lord, yes, others, let this my motto be; help me to live for others that I may live like thee.”

        The key to victory over self-centeredness then is caught up in that one word: others.

        Stuart Briscoe is one of my favorite writers. I offer his words as an apt conclusion to the above remarks:

        “The instinct for self-preservation is fine. Self-interest is here to stay. But self-absorption has to be seen for what it is – immaturity run rampant. Caring for and loving others sacrificially is the only way to grow.”

And grow we must if we are to avoid becoming a “small package” at the end of the day. + + +