The more times I watch it, the more I appreciate the first Thor. I know a lot of people don’t like it, but I’m very fond of Kenneth Branagh’s film. I like the personal nature of it, really focusing on Thor’s journey from a selfish jerk into a selfless hero. His one act of selflessness, sacrificing himself for his friends, was a catalyst in his life. That moment set his life on a different course, one of selflessness, generosity and thinking of others first.
Thor had a choice before him, though. He didn’t have to continue on a path of selflessness. Once he got his powers and Mjölnir back, he could have fallen back into his selfish ways. However, that one act of selflessness led to a transformed life.
In this instance, the god of thunder did a much better job than a prophet of God.
Jonah begins his story as a selfish jerk, thinking more about what he wants the needs of thousands of lost Ninevites. Instead of following God’s command and preaching against Nineveh, Jonah boards a ship headed in the opposite direction. God sends a raging storm against the ship and, in that moment, Jonah has his moment of selflessness. He tells the sailors to throw him overboard in order to save themselves.
So we can applaud Jonah in that moment. He was selfless and he placed the needs of others above his own. However, it was just a moment and didn’t do anything to impact the rest of his life. Jonah eventually made it to Nineveh and complained when the city repented. He didn’t want the Ninevites to receive the same grace God had given to him. Even after his act of selflessness, Jonah went back to his old selfish ways.
Jonah’s story shows us that if we want to lead selfless lives, then we need more than just moments of selflessness. Jonah had his moment and then that moment quickly became a memory. A selfless life isn’t built on big acts of selflessness, but on the little choices we make every day.
The choice to replace the empty toilet paper roll or not.
The choice to hold the door open for someone or not.
The choice to put the dishes away or not.
Most of us would probably seize a big opportunity to be selfless. But a life that reflects the selflessness of Jesus is found in the small selfless acts of everyday life. Jonah never figured that out and, even though he succeeded in a big way, he failed in the small things.
What helps you be selfless in the small things?