It is assumed to be noble to live for others. This nobility can take many forms and some of them can be very difficult to identify. Still, in most of the cases the underlying motive is not benevolent even though the appearance tells a different story. Selfishness has many disguises.
No doubt serving and helping others is the highest cause there is, but not always. It is worthwhile to consider the motive for the help. In many cases the true motive is not pure and noble, on the contrary, it is an ego trip and boost without any limits. Hard to believe? Well, if it were really about the others there shouldn’t be any need for anybody else to know about the aid. Also the compassionate act should not direct any unnecessary attention to the helper. Any expectation of reciprocity is not an act of compassion. And this means anything, including the little word ‘thanks’ from the one you supported. Helping others can also be a way to reduce one’s guilt of something else in which case the issue has really nothing to do with helping others. It is just a means to deal with one’s own conscience.
What about the target of the help, is it far away and somehow exotic? People in the next block might as well need your help but is it somehow better if you focus on greater distance to give your aid? Often it would make more sense to help people close to you since you can make a larger impact—in addition of being a practical example for others.
Often taking care of one’s own business is quickly condemned as selfishness—having only a negative connotation nowadays. But this is a great fallacy as well. If everyone was supposed to pay attention only for others without caring for one’s own needs there wouldn’t be anyone feeling good and balanced anymore. The reality is exactly the opposite. In order to help others one needs to be in a solid position to give a helping hand. The only way to give a lot is to have plenty as well. This does not apply just to material things but basically every quality and virtue there is. If supporting others is an act of compassion then it should be carried out with the upmost care and the best possible way. Giving the best you have is not a light-hearted issue, is it? This is the test you most likely fail provided that you are not doing it solely for the compassion and love for others.