An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgement starts quarrels. Proverbs
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3
Each of you should give what you have decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
Recently, I attended a Bible study and the subject of selfishness came up. Believe (admit) it or not, we can all be selfish at times. Some more than others, of course, but we are all perfectly capable. The word itself—selfish—carries with it some very negative connotations, and rightly so. But, is it possible for us to be selfish … for completely justifiable (and even understandable) reasons? At first glance, it might not seem so, but if I didn't have somewhere to go with this, I wouldn't have started writing about it. So, let's take the verses above one at a time.
Some people, let's face it, are just nasty. They think and care only about themselves and their own concerns. And whenever they get the chance, they make of themselves the kind of individuals that most of us walk away from saying, “I'm really gonna hafta pray for that one … hard!” Honestly, I believe that this type of selfishness is the most common these days. In my opinion, it is the pinnacle of selfishness—not to mention fashionable—for folks today to make themselves out to be the victim. Whether they claim to be the sufferers of generational and/or institutional racism, or they simply shut themselves off from people because others, who “claim” to love and care for them, cause them to have “anxiety” when they give them advice or tell them the truth. These people are, therefore, a “negative influence” in the lives of snowflakes … I mean millennials … I mean children … I mean young people. Heck, these … individuals … will tell you to lie to them and say that everything “is going to be great!” because the “power of positive thinking” is … well … powerful … I guess. In my mind there's hardly a difference between these types. Neither of them, or a myriad of others, is willing to accept the fact that they are responsible for their own … well … lives, success and happiness. But at least these types are honest about their selfishness.
Next, we have those people who, although they may seem sincere in their efforts to be helpful and encouraging, are motivated to do what they do by the rewards that they receive for their “efforts”. These may include some form of payment, be it monetary or some reciprocal action. Or they may be seeking recognition from the populace that might gain them a “bump” in their social or political status. In either case, when they do what they do, no matter how helpful, with an eye towards what they will receive in return, it's still selfish—the dirtiest and most despicable form of selfishness.
In this verse, we see the type of selfishness that looks just like sacrifice—only it usually ain't. These people moan and groan about how much they tithe; give of themselves; pray; etc. Sure, they do it, but they take great pains to let everyone even near their orbit know how “dedicated to the Lord” they are because they've spent so much of “themselves” in the name of doing for others. This type has something to prove, not only to those around them, but to themselves. I suspect that they are motivated by the guilt of past unresolved sin(s) that they are trying to “make up” for. This, to me, is the saddest form of selfishness because these people haven't learned how easy it is to absolve yourself of any sin … through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They simply don't know that He has accepted the punishment for all the sins of mankind, and that all they have to do is accept this in their hearts, accept Him as their personal savior.
But are these the only kinds of selfishness?
Take, for example, those who don't want to burden others with what hangs heavy on their hearts. Or those who don't consider themselves worthy to speak the Word of God to others. These are just two of the motivations (I'm positive that there are many others) that people can use to justify their disobedience to Jesus.
Trust me, I know about this type of selfishness.
What might seem like a kindness to others is often a missed opportunity for both parties to gain some blessings. It's a way for us to isolate ourselves from other Christians and keep us from expanding our knowledge of scripture or even educating others who may be a little behind us on the path to Heaven. It keeps Godly advice and council away from us and others that we may be able to provide insight into their situation, whatever that may be, because of our unique experiences. And it's done all in the name of not wanting to make our friends and loved ones feel “uncomfortable”. This is the most insidious kind of selfishness, the kind that makes Satan grin from ear-to-ear … and maybe even giggle a bit. In using these excuses, we play right into the serpents' hands … so-to-speak … because serpents don't have …
You get the idea.
This is the hardest form of selfishness to overcome because those (I) who practice it do so out of a need to be self-sufficient, independent or strong. As Christians, we should accept the fact that we were never meant to be any of those things … at least apart from Christ.
So, don't ever forget that you are one selfish son-of-a … loving and all-powerful God who will always take care of you … by using other Christians … if you just let Him.
Today is the day. Now is the time. The battle is on!
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
G. J. Fortier is a member of Ironmen Ministries and First Baptist Church, Centerville, GA. Look for his novels on Amazon on Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.GerardFortier.com