Breaking Free from Selfishness
We come into this world screaming for our own way and most of us never grow out of it. Selfishness, simply put, is putting yourself and your needs ahead of others—including God!
Obviously, this does not include all self-interest. Even the most self-LESS among us will not offer themselves as heart donors – while still living! God has built within us a need for self-interest. Without it we would starve, fail to get medical care, and subject ourselves to the abuse of others. It is not selfish to stand up for yourself.
When does self-interest become selfishness? Let’s stay with the donor imagery. Let’s suppose you are healthy and have two perfectly good kidneys. You can live with only one, but you never know what the future will bring; you may need both kidneys some day. Yet, the transplant lists are full of people you would match, one of whom could be saved, if YOU donated your kidney. Is it selfish for you NOT to offer your “extra” kidney to one of these strangers? You answer, “No.” I would agree.
Let’s change the scenario. Let’s suppose it is your child or spouse who could be saved with your kidney? Would it be selfish to deny them? “Yes.” I think we would all probably agree. At what point, however, between a close relative and a nameless stranger would failing to offer your kidney become selfishness? Your best friend? Someone in your church family? Your neighbor? Your great nephew? Things can get complicated quickly, can’t they?
Alright, we have determined that “relationship” is a factor; it’s not the only factor, but it must be considered. There could be any number of circumstances that could affect your decision; we certainly, can’t consider every one. My point is since we are predisposed toward self-interest, we need to carefully weigh each of our decisions to be sure that SELF is not in the way of what is RIGHT.
Jesus made this very point, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:23-25).
You see, the denying of self and embracing the cross is a daily decision. Jesus gave his life in one, single sacrifice. He is asking us to give our lives little by little each day. Someday he may require our lives in one lump sum, but for most of us he requires that we daily examine every decision to be sure SELF is not in the way of what is RIGHT.
These daily sacrifices may not seem as heroic as becoming a martyr, but I assure you, giving up a night in front of the TV to make a visit has a heroism all its own.
What Does Selfishness Do?
- Devalues the needs/desires of Others
- Creates perpetual unhappiness
- It leads to unhealthy conflict
- It destroys relationships
- It reduces your world and shrinks your soul
What Does God’s Word Say about Selfishness?
- It is a work of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21).
- It is subject to the wrath of God (Romans 2:6-9).
- It is contrary to the work of God in our lives (Ephesians 4:22-24, Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 5:1-2).
- It is not compatible with the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-5).
- It violates the law of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; Matthew 22:37-40).
How Can I Break Free from Selfishness