Looking into the New Testament just now, I see that Jesus gave two overarching commandments. Firstly, to love God with all your heart and mind; secondly, to love your fellow humans as you love yourself (Luke 10). I gather he thought you should be loving yourself. This prophet was going around, as the story goes, performing miracles to good purposes for humans of earth. So there is a large reservoir of mystical power in the background of the moral perspective he declares.
He says he is adding to and completing the old Commandments, and he gives some examples of how to go above and beyond their letter with an understanding of them grounded in love. Not only do not murder, but do not be angry with your fellow human nor call your fellow a fool nor look down on your fellow. Else be punished by God. Make peace with your fellow before coming to the altar to leave a gift for God. (And don’t be making a big show of your gifts to God or to your fellows.)
In some cases, he reverses the old precepts. Down with “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Rather, do not resist evil. Turn the other cheek for the evildoer to hit as well. Down with loving only those who love you. “What credit is that to you? Even the tax-collectors do that!” Love your enemies as well. Then you are sharing in the perfections that are possessed by God (Matthew 5).
His moral rationales are shot through with alleged reciprocities of benefit to one performing the good act. These are benefits, physical and social, coming back to one who sticks with God in letting go of benefits for now. The coming back will be from other humans or from God.
In his model prayer, Jesus says to ask God for the bread one needs and to forgive one’s failures, as one is forgiving the failures of others (Luke 11). Some reciprocity here, and nothing against bread for oneself.
Beyond keeping the religious law, Jesus tells one wealthy man who keeps the law, yet still feels incomplete, to reach perfection by giving all his possessions and money to the poor. He’ll have riches in heaven if he does that. Meanwhile, join Jesus in his crusade (Matthew 18).
From the Sermon on the Mount:
“How happy are those who know their need for God, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
“How happy are those who know what sorrow means, for they will be given courage and comfort!
“Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them!
“Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for true goodness, for they will be fully satisfied.
“Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them!
“Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God!
“Happy are those who have suffered persecution for the cause of goodness, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!
“And what happiness will be yours when people blame you and ill-treat you and say all kinds of slanderous things against you for my sake! Be glad then, yes, be tremendously glad—for your reward in Heaven is magnificent. . . .
“You are the earth’s salt. . . .
“You are the world’s light. . . . (Matthew 5)
I rather think that building a case for altruism—or for socialism or for capitalism—based on the teachings of Jesus is far off the mark. Altruism is the doctrine that moral goodness is from sacrifice of self for the benefit of one’s fellow humans. Jesus-likeness without God at center of moral goodness should be laughed out of court.
(The translations are by J. B. Phillips.)