All of us are old enough to know that there are many serious problems which the world as a whole faces seemingly without any solutions to fight. And we all know that, besides these problems, there are also many problems which we also face on a daily basis. This world and our own sinful nature constantly plague us, and we live in sin from day to day.
One of these problems which we have to deal with, both in our own lives as well as in the lives of others, is the sin of selfishness. When you stop and analyze it, it seems that this sin of selfishness is one of our most serious problems, and to be delivered from it one of our greatest needs.
On the one hand, we Christians have by Grace been given the capacity to be so much to each other. We can be kind, loving, considerate, and helpful to one another. But all too often we do just the opposite and become harsh, inconsiderate, hurtful, and utterly selfish.
All of us are plagued by this sin to a greater or a lesser degree. The sin of selfishness does not have to be taught or learned. We all possess it from birth as a result of the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve. Just stop and consider a small child for a moment. They are classic examples of this. They know how to whine, pine, pout and throw temper tantrums to get their own selfish way.
Be honest with yourself for just a moment, and you will have to agree that by nature we all care more about ourselves than we do about others. We are often more than willing to lie, cheat, steal, injure, take advantage of, and even crush one another to get our own way.
The Word of God gives us many different accounts of the incredible lengths that both wicked men as well as believers would go to and how much pain they would inflict on others to get their own way. King Ahab and King David are both good illustrations of this very fact.
Ahab wanted Naboth to sell him his vineyard so it could be added to the palace complex. When Naboth refused to sell to Ahab, Ahab had Naboth killed so that he could have the inheritance of Naboth. The heartbreak, the pain, and the grief that Naboth’s family suffered was of no concern to Ahab; having his own way was all that mattered.
Another example of selfishness work is that of David taking Uriah’s wife. David, as the king, lacked nothing. He should have been happy for Uriah because his wife was fair and lovely. But the sin of selfishness took hold of David and he was no longer content not to have Uriah’s wife. David wanted his own way and he even had to resort to murder to get it. Uriah was entitled to better treatment from the king. All that David did in this regard was steeped in selfishness.
You have no doubt seen it in your own life, as well as in these examples from Scripture, that when love and concern for others is lacking, selfishness soon follows.
Selfishness is a boy saying “I’ll take my ball and go home if I can’t pitch’’. It’s an employer squeezing his employees for all he can get and paying them less than they are worth. It is a young person with the ability to help, refusing to help someone in need.
Selfish people are the root cause behind every home which is broken up by divorce. Because of it children are abused, women are raped, businesses are broken into, prisons are filled, and the innocent victims are injured.
Selfishness is the root cause of all relationship problems, whether it’s between a criminal and the state, an employer and his employees, a husband and his wife, a teenager and his parents, a teenager and his or her friends, or whatever. We are all selfish by nature.
What we are really doing is shoving God aside and setting ourselves up as the only reason for our being. What a terrible mistake to make! And thanks be to God for delivering us, His chosen ones, from such a wicked action.
Now of course there is nothing wrong with striving to improve ourselves. But when all we think about is “self’’, we are way off base. There is a world of difference between a person who cares deeply about the happiness of others as well as his own, and the person who cares only about himself. One finds happiness and fulfillment through giving, the other finds emptiness through getting.
The only one who can change all of this in our hearts is, of course, Jesus Christ. When He enters our hearts He makes us a new creature, old things have passed away and all things have become new.
This does not mean, however, that with Christ in our hearts and lives every shread of selfishness is forever erased. We will have to wait for glory for that fact to become reality. However, we Christians nevertheless wish it were so, but Scripture and our own experience teach us otherwise. But by God’s grace in our hearts we yield ourselves more and more to His control.
Some people have the mistaken idea that if they don’t protect their own rights, if they don’t look out for themselves, they will never be happy. But just the opposite is true. The person who lives to please Christ and keep His commandments, who pours out his life in the service of others, is the one who finds fulfillment and peace.
Jesus said: “He that loveth his life (lives it unto himself) shall lose it; but he that loseth his life for my sake (devotes it to the service of Christ) shall find it.” Only as we die unto ourselves and devote our lives to the service of Christ and of others can deliverance from selfishness be achieved.