自掃門前雪嗎? ──MUST IT BE ‘EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF’?

MONDAY MANNA

在今天的商場上,我們應該採取「自掃門前雪」的態度,還是「我們同在一個團隊裡」的態度呢?這可能是現代社會基本的問題之一。資本主義的原則是每個人都應該為自己的比賽而奔跑。即使在聖經中,使徒保羅也用賽跑隱喻生活。哥林多前書9章24節中,他說:「豈不知在場上賽跑的都跑,但得獎賞的只有一人?你們也當這樣跑,好叫你們得著獎賞。」

光看這節經文,保羅好像要我們跑自己的比賽?而不管他人?但這真的是他的意思嗎?在過去的二百多年來,大多數的工業國家都鼓勵人們管好自己。我們只強調個人的責任,如果有人落後了,那就是他們自己的問題,和我們無關。

可悲的是,這種態度帶來了各種卑劣的後果:種族主義、奴隸制度到掠奪性的放貸。這一切都打著資本主義的名號,以及自由放任的普遍性認知——只關注、處理自己的事。連基督徒也常使用「個人與基督的關係」一詞,來暗示這只是我們個人與耶穌之間的關係。

但是,耶穌的教導的卻完全相反。我們可能太過度地引申保羅的賽跑比喻了。例如,希伯來書10章24-25節告誡我們要本著合一與合作的精神相互團結:「又要彼此相顧,激發愛心,勉勵行善。你們不可停止聚會,好像那些停止慣了的人,倒要彼此勸勉,既知道(原文是看見)那日子臨近,就更當如此。」

生活在團體裡並互相幫助是所有希望成為基督跟隨者的基礎。從使徒行傳第二章中我們知道,初代的教會很重視這一點。信徒們互相幫助,包括凡物公用,所以團體裡的每個人都一無所缺。

換句話說,他們的信念不是「自掃門前雪」,而是「我們同在一個團隊裡」。在團隊運動時,如果一個球員堅持個人得分,不傳球給他人,或拒絕幫忙球隊,那麼球隊終將輸掉比賽。團隊失敗,每個隊員都失敗,但如果團隊獲勝,所有球員都能分享榮耀。

很多文章都寫到穩固關係的好處。如果人們之間有穩固的友誼,彼此互相幫助和鼓勵,他們就會更健康、更長壽,並且通常會更快樂。

當我決定跟隨基督時,其中一項重大改變是我從自我中心的存在,變為以團體為中心的生活。當我不再只顧自己,開始秉持團體意識試圖幫助他人時,我的生活發生了天翻地覆的美好變化。生活從個人競賽變成了團隊運動,為團隊的共同利益而努力。

沒有所謂的「孤狼」,連狼都在狼群(團隊)裡生活和工作,幫助整個狼群更加壯大。作為基督的跟隨者,我們被呼召加入同一個團隊,努力使世界變得更美好。這是我們為上帝帶來榮耀的另一種方式。

©2020JimMathis是堪薩斯州歐弗蘭帕克的作家,攝影師和企業主。他的最新著作是《駱駝和針The Camel and the Needle》,《基督徒看財富和金錢A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money》。他曾任堪薩斯州堪薩斯城和密蘇里州堪薩斯城的CBMC咖啡店經理和執行理事。

反省與問題討論

  1. 你是否聽過「各人自掃門前雪」這句話?你對這種哲學有甚麼想法?
  2. 你認為我們在工作上和與他人(我們的同事、雇主、員工、客戶、供應商)互動時,「自掃門前雪」與「我們同在一個團隊裡」這兩種思維模式有什麼最根本的差別?
  3. 承上題,在信仰的層面上,你如何看這兩種思維模式的實際運用?過份強調個人化的「與耶穌基督的個人關係」有任何危險嗎?如果有,在那些方面會展現出來?
  4. 我們如何能不僅在宗教或敬拜的場合,也在我們蒙召成為「基督的使者」的職場上,更多秉持以團隊為中心的思維模式活出信仰,並從中受益?

備註:如果你手上有聖經,並且想閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:

箴言27章17節
27:17 鐵磨鐵,磨出刃來;朋友相感(原文是磨朋友的臉)也是如此。

傳道書4章9-12節
4:9 兩個人總比一個人好,因為二人勞碌同得美好的果效。
4:10 若是跌倒,這人可以扶起他的同伴;若是孤身跌倒,沒有別人扶起他來,這人就有禍了。
4:11 再者,二人同睡就都暖和,一人獨睡怎能暖和呢?
4:12 有人攻勝孤身一人,若有二人便能敵擋他;三股合成的繩子不容易折斷。

哥林多前書3章9節
3:9 因為我們是與 神同工的;你們是 神所耕種的田地,所建造的房屋。

哥林多前書6章19節
6:19 豈不知你們的身子就是聖靈的殿嗎?這聖靈是從 神而來,住在你們裏頭的;並且你們不是自己的人,

哥林多前書12章12-27節
12:12 就如身子是一個,卻有許多肢體;而且肢體雖多,仍是一個身子;基督也是這樣。
12:13 我們不拘是猶太人,是希臘人,是為奴的,是自主的,都從一位聖靈受洗,成了一個身體,飲於一位聖靈。
12:14 身子原不是一個肢體,乃是許多肢體。
12:15 設若腳說:「我不是手,所以不屬乎身子,」它不能因此就不屬乎身子。
12:16 設若耳說:「我不是眼,所以不屬乎身子,」它不能因此就不屬乎身子。
12:17 若全身是眼,從哪裏聽聲呢?若全身是耳,從哪裏聞味呢?
12:18 但如今, 神隨自己的意思把肢體俱各安排在身上了。
12:19 若都是一個肢體,身子在哪裏呢?
12:20 但如今肢體是多的,身子卻是一個。
12:21 眼不能對手說:「我用不著你。」頭也不能對腳說:「我用不著你。」
12:22 不但如此,身上肢體人以為軟弱的,更是不可少的。
12:23 身上肢體,我們看為不體面的,越發給它加上體面;不俊美的,越發得著俊美。
12:24 我們俊美的肢體,自然用不著裝飾;但 神配搭這身子,把加倍的體面給那有缺欠的肢體,
12:25 免得身上分門別類,總要肢體彼此相顧。
12:26 若一個肢體受苦,所有的肢體就一同受苦;若一個肢體得榮耀,所有的肢體就一同快樂。
12:27 你們就是基督的身子,並且各自作肢體。

提摩太後書2章2節
2:2 你在許多見證人面前聽見我所教訓的,也要交託那忠心能教導別人的人。


MUST IT BE ‘EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF’?

By Jim Mathis

As we pursue our livelihoods in the contemporary marketplace, should we take the approach of “Every man for himself,” or should our attitude be, “We are all on the same team?” This might be one of the fundamental questions of a society. A basic principle of capitalism is that everyone should run their own race. Even in the Bible, the apostle Paul uses running as a metaphor for life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, he says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Reading this, it seems as if he is saying we should all run our own race, without bothering to be concerned about other people. But is that what he means? In most industrialized countries for the past 200 years or so, people have been encouraged to look out for themselves. We talk in terms of individual responsibility, and if someone is falling behind, that is their problem, not ours.

Sadly, this attitude has resulted in all kinds of meanness. Everything from racism and slavery to predatory lending have taken place in the name of capitalism and the general understanding of laissez-faire – a matter of looking out only for your own self. Even Christians often use the term, “Personal relationship with Christ,” which would suggest this is just between us and Jesus.

But the overall understanding of Jesus’ teaching is quite the opposite. And we are probably taking Paul’s race metaphor too far. For instance, in Hebrews 10:24-25 we see the admonition for coming together in a spirit of unity and cooperation: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Living in community and helping one another is foundational for all who wish to follow Christ. We know from Acts 2 that the early church took this seriously, seeing many examples of believers helping one other, including materially, so that there would be no one in need within their group.

In other words, rather than “Every man for himself,” their conviction was, “We are all on the same team.” In team sports, if one player insists on scoring all of the points, will not share the ball with others, or refuses to help the team, the team is eventually going to lose. When a team loses, everyone on the team loses. If the team wins, all the players share in the glory.

Much has been written about the benefits of strong relationships. People are healthier, live longer, and are generally happier if they have strong friendships beneficial for helping and encouraging each other.

Personally, one big change that took place when I decided to follow Christ was shifting from a self-centered existence to community-centered living. My life changed dramatically for the better when I stopped looking out only for myself and started finding ways to help others with a sense of community. Life went from an individual sport like a race to a team sport, working toward our mutual benefit.

There is no such thing as a “lone wolf,” because even wolves live and work in a pack – a community – to help the entire pack to thrive. As human beings following Christ, we are called to be on the same team, striving to make the world a better place. That is one way we bring glory to God.

© 2020. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. Have you heard the term “every man for himself” (or every woman for herself)? When you think about such a philosophy, what does it mean to you?
  2. What do you think are some of the fundamental differences between the “every man for himself” and “we are all on the same team” approaches to our work and ways we interact with others – our coworkers, our employers or employees, customers and suppliers?
  3. In terms of faith, how do you see these distinctives being worked out in a real sense? Is there a danger of putting too much emphasis on an individualized, “personal relationship with Jesus Christ”? If so, in what ways?
  4. How can we all benefit from taking a more team-oriented approach in how we live out our faith, not only in religious and worship settings, but also in the workplace where we are called to be “ambassadors for Christ”?

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 6:19, 12:12-27; 2 Timothy 2:2

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