“A woman by the name of Eunice Pike worked with the Mazatec Indians in southwestern Mexico for over forty years. During her time there she made some very interesting observations. For instance, these people very rarely ever wished someone well. They are also very hesitant to teach one another. If asked, ‘Who taught you to bake bread?’ the village baker might answer, ‘I just know,’ meaning he has acquired the knowledge without anyone’s help. Eunice said this odd behavior stems from the Indian’s concept of limited good.’ They believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go around. To teach another means you might drain yourself of knowledge. To love a second child means you have to love the first child less. To wish someone well–‘Have a good day’–means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be reacquired” (Bernie May, “Learning to Trust,” Multnomah Press, 1985).
At first glance this attitude is shocking, but actually the mindset of the Mazatec Indians is not so different from today’s culture. While it’s not true for everyone, many in our society are completely engulfed with selfish, “me first” type attitudes. Nearly everything is done for self. Helping, teaching, being kind, and showing generosity to others is becoming increasingly uncommon. In fact, often times doing such things is even viewed as a hindrance and annoyance. Many don’t want to help a friend move because it’s tiresome and difficult. Some don’t want to assist an elderly person because it’s inconvenient. People rarely want to go the extra mile because it means less time “to do what I want.” It seems people think if they have to do something for others it will become such an annoyance and a hindrance that they will, therefore, become less happy. It’s almost as if some think they are giving away their own happiness with such acts. What an incredibly sad attitude.
God has always called for Christians to be different, especially in our attitude towards others. God told the church in Ephesus, “… Help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Christ even went so far as to say that we should be loving, giving, and kind to our enemies (Matthew 5:38-42)! In a world characterized by selfishness, how better to be a light in the darkness than to show and attitude of selflessness (Matthew 5:14)?
We aren’t “giving away our happiness” by being kind to others. In fact, as many have attested to from their own experiences, the more we give and show kindness, the happier we become. Not only does being kind and loving improve our quality of life, but our contrasting example could also bring others to Christ. Do we want to become happier in this life? The key lies in showing service, kindness, and love to others (Matthew 23:11; Ephesians 4:32; 1 John 4:7-11).