Links Daily Devotional

A Sense of Self

“The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39, NASB)

Sometimes I play serious golf, whether it is in a tournament or even just for bragging rights against a good friend. On such occasions I tend to take a little more time, play with more focus, and be more into the game than into my fellow competitors. I am also much less generous with phrases like “pick it up.”

In a casual game, however—and that comprises more than 90 percent of my rounds—I only have one rule: hit till you’re happy. Want to take free relief from a wall or a tree? Take it. Want a mulligan? Swing away! Lost ball? Drop one and take a stroke—stroke and distance is just harsh. And above all, pick up any putt you want. If it is longer than about six feet I may look slightly askance at you, but I probably won’t.

In fact, it is quite likely that in such a round I will play by all the rules but will pick up a putt on my own, without even waiting for someone else to suggest it, if I truly believe I would make it. That is my idea of a “selfie.”

I know, a selfie is a picture you take of yourself. It was the OED word of the year for 2013, and people from the Pope to the President to millions of teenagers have taken them. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is just fun, or perhaps people admire themselves so much that they want to preserve their own image. I keep thinking Narcissus would have loved an iPhone with a front facing camera.

And then I wonder if people who take lots of selfies also take lots of pictures of other people. Do they love their friend’s visage as they love their own? Do they pick up their own putts but not give them? Do they make sure they have food on the table but not give a moment’s thought to the poor and needy? Do they look for opportunities to be generous and helpful and kind and loving to their neighbors (that is, every other person), or are they just looking for an opportunity to promote themselves within their circles?

It seems to me that selfies, whether they are putts or pictures, are probably mostly harmless. But it is easy to see that too much of either one could carry harmful consequences. Loving others as we love ourselves does not come naturally to us, but the result of doing so is good for everyone. It makes others feel loved and it teaches us “other focus” rather than self focus—humility rather than pride.

As I ponder this I’ll probably continue with my generosity toward my golfing companions, but I think I’ll take fewer selfies on the greens. And I’ll try to keep both my camera and my heart focused on my neighbor rather than myself.

Lewis Greer
March 13, 2014
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.