Revised Common Lectionary

25 March 2017

Can Any Christian Reject Altruism?

Ayn Rand vs Jesus

Ayn Rand rejected altruism.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines altruism as:

The attitude of caring about others and doing acts that help them,
although you do not get anything by doing those acts.

But St. Paul implored the Phillippian Christians

TO LOOK to the interests of others, 
NOT TO ACT from ambition or conceit,
and 
TO BE humble.  

Eclesiasticus as found in the Greek Septuagint, Chapter 15

If you fear the Lord, you will do this. Master his Law, and you will find Wisdom.  She will come to welcome you, like a mother or a young bride. She will give you wisdom and knowledge like food and drink.  Rely on her for support, and you will never know the disgrace of failure.

She will make you more honored than all your neighbors; when you speak in the assembly, she will give you the right words.  You will find happiness and genuine joy; your name will be remembered forever.  But people who are foolish or sinful will never even catch sight of Wisdom.  She will have nothing to do with conceited people; she never enters the mind of liars.  It is not appropriate for a sinner to sing hymns of praise, because his worship is insincere. A hymn should be an expression of wisdom, inspired by the Lord himself.

Say not thou, It is through the Lord that I fell away: for thou ought not to do the things that he hates.

Say not thou, He hath caused me to err: for he hath no need of the sinful man.

The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil.

When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished.

If you want to, you can keep the Lord's commands.

You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not.

He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want.

You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.

The Lord's wisdom and power are great and he sees everything.

He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him.

He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin.

Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, 13-14

If you touch tar, it will stick to you, and if you keep company with arrogant people, you will come to be just like them. Don't try to lift something to heavy for you, and don't keep company with people who are richer and more powerful than you. You cannot keep a clay pot next to an iron kettle; the pot will break if it hits the kettle. 

If a rich person wrongs someone, he can afford to add insult to injury; but if a poor person is wronged, he is forced to apologize for himself. A rich person will use you as long as he can profit from it, but when you need him, he will leave you helpless. He will live with you as long as you have anything and will gladly drain you dry. If he needs you, he will trick you with his smiles and cheerful, kindly words. "Do you need anything?" he will ask. He will feed you until you are embarrassed. Finally, when he has drained you two or three times over, he will laugh at you. If you see him later, he will pretend he doesn't know you, and will pass you by.

Be careful not to be misled; you can be enjoying yourself and suddenly find yourself humiliated. If you are invited to the home of someone influential, be reserved in your behavior. Then he will invite you more often. If you push yourself on him, he will put you in your place. On the other hand, if you keep your distance from him, he will forget about you. Don't pretend to be his equal or trust everything he says. In spite of all of his long and polite conversation, he is testing you. If a person does not keep confidence, he is cruel; he will not hesitate to hurt you or have you put in jail. Keep your secrets to yourself and be very careful, for you are always walking on dangerous ground. Every creature prefers its own kind, and people are no different. Just as animals of the same species flock together, so people keep company with people like themselves. A sinner has no more in common with a devout person than a wolf has with a lamb. Rich people have no more in common with the poor people than hyenas have with dogs. The rich hunt down the poor just as lions hunt down wild donkeys in the open country. Arrogant people have nothing but scorn for the humble, and the rich think of the poor in the same way.

When a rich person stumbles, his friends will steady him, but if a poor person falls, his friends will have nothing to do with him. When someone rich makes a mistake, there are many people to cover up for him and explain away all the things he never should have said. But let someone poor make a mistake, and he gets nothing but criticism. When a rich person speaks, everyone is silent, and they praise him to the skies for what he says. But let a poor person speak, and everybody says, "Who is that?" They push him down if he so much as stumbles. There is nothing wrong with being rich if you haven't sinned to get that way. But there is nothing sinful about being poor, either. Only the ungodly think so. It's what is in your heart that makes the expression on your face happy or sad. If you feel cheerful, you will look cheerful, although making up proverbs calls for some intense thought.

14 If a person never says anything carelessly, he is to be congratulated; he doesn't need to feel guilty. If a person has a clear conscience and never gives up hope, he is certainly to be congratulated! It isn't right for someone who is selfish to be rich. What use is money to a stingy person? If you deny yourself in order to accumulate wealth, you are only accumulating it for someone else. Others will use your riches to live in luxury. How can you be generous with others if you are stingy with yourself, if you are not willing to enjoy your own wealth? No one is worse off than someone who is stingy with himself; it is a sin that brings its own punishment. When such a person does something good, it is only by accident; his selfishness will sooner or later be evident.

A selfish person is evil; he turns his back on people's needs and is never satisfied with what he has. Greed will shrivel up a person's soul. Some people are too stingy to put bread on their own table. My child, treat yourself as well as you can, and bring worthy offerings to the Lord. Remember that death is coming for you some day, and you haven't been told when that will be. Before that day comes, be kind to your friends; be as generous as you can. Don't deny yourself a single day's happiness. If there is something you want to do and it is lawful, go ahead! Some day all that you have worked for will be divided up and given to others. So be generous; but also be willing to receive from others. Enjoy yourself, for you will not find any pleasures in the world of the dead.

The human body wears out like a piece of clothing. The ancient law decrees that we must die. Human beings are like leaves on a spreading tree. New growth takes the place of the fallen leaves; while some of us die, others are being born. Everything made by human hands will decay and perish, along with the person who made it. It is a happy person who is concerned with Wisdom and who uses good sense. Anyone who studies the ways of Wisdom will also learn her secrets. Go after Wisdom like a hunter looking for game. Look into her windows and listen at her doors. Camp as close to her house as you can get, and you will have a fine place to live. Build your home there, safe beneath her protecting branches, and shaded from the heat.

Partial Daily Lection John 8; Psalm 105 (CJB)

John 8:30

Many people who heard him say these things trusted in him. So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted him, 

"If you obey what I say, then you are really my talmidim, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

They answered, 

"We are the seed of Avraham and have never been slaves to anyone; so what do you mean by saying, 
`You will be set free'?" 

Yeshua answered them, 

"Yes, indeed! I tell you that everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. Now a slave does not remain with a family forever, but a son does remain with it forever. So if the Son frees you, you will really be free!

Psalm 105

Give thanks to ADONAI! Call on his name! Make his deeds known among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, talk about all his wonders. Glory in his holy name; let those seeking ADONAI have joyful hearts. Seek ADONAI and his strength; always seek his presence. 

Remember the wonders he has done, his signs and his spoken rulings. You descendants of Avraham his servant, you offspring of Ya'akov, his chosen ones, he is ADONAI our God! His rulings are everywhere on earth.
 
He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Avraham, the oath he swore to Yitz'chak, and established as a law for Ya'akov, for Isra'el as an everlasting covenant: 

"To you I will give the land of Kena'an as your allotted heritage."
When they were but few in number, and not only few, but aliens there too, wandering from nation to nation, from this kingdom to that people, he allowed no one to oppress them. Yes, for their sakes he rebuked even kings:
 "Don't touch my anointed ones or do my prophets harm!"
 
He called down famine on the land, broke off all their food supply, but sent a man ahead of them -Yosef, who was sold as a slave. They shackled his feet with chains, and they bound him in irons; until the time when his word proved true, God's utterance kept testing him. The king sent and had him released, the ruler of peoples set him free; he made him lord of his household, in charge of all he owned, correcting his officers as he saw fit and teaching his counselors wisdom. Then Isra'el too came into Egypt, Ya'akov lived as an alien in the land of Ham. 

There God made his people very fruitful, made them too numerous for their foes, whose hearts he turned to hate his people, and treat his servants unfairly. 
He sent his servant Moshe and Aharon, whom he had chosen. 

They worked his signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham. He sent darkness, and the land grew dark; they did not defy his word. He turned their water into blood and caused their fish to die. Their land swarmed with frogs, even in the royal chambers. He spoke, and there came swarms of insects and lice throughout their land. He gave them hail instead of rain, with fiery [lightning] throughout their land. He struck their vines and fig trees, shattering trees all over their country. He spoke, and locusts came, also grasshoppers without number; they ate up everything green in their land, devoured the fruit of their ground. He struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their strength. Then he led his people out, laden with silver and gold; among his tribes not one stumbled. 

Egypt was happy to have them leave, because fear of [Isra'el] had seized them. He spread out a cloud to screen them off and fire to give them light at night. When they asked, he brought them quails and satisfied them with food from heaven. He split a rock, and water gushed out, flowing as a river over the dry ground, for he remembered his holy promise to his servant Avraham. He led out his people with joy, his chosen ones with singing. Then he gave them the lands of the nations, and they possessed what peoples had toiled to produce, in order to obey his laws and follow his teachings. Halleluyah!

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