“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Philippians 2:3-4 NLT
Selfishness is one of those “soft” sins that has significant impact.
We all struggle with the sentiments, “I just want to be happy”, “I deserve something better ” or “I have earned this”. Selfishness shifts the focus from God’s purpose to my pleasure, possessions or pleasure. It becomes easy replacing surrender with self.
Selfishness is rooted in the efforts of our soul’s enemy . . . to kill, steal and destroy. Our Savior’s emphasis is to live a life of abundant satisfaction. (John 10:10)
Selfishness is life-grabbing. Selflessness is life-giving. Erich Fromm states, “Selfish persons are incapable of loving others, but they are not capable of loving themselves either.”
Selfishness Develops Fear. God’s perfected affection counteracts our personal acquisitiveness. Matthew Henry comments, “If you expect or experience the benefit of God’s compassions to yourselves, be compassionate one to another.” John writes, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV). Compassion defeats our covetousness.
Selfishness Delivers Failure. A lack of love always leads to loss. The prophet Jeremiah writes, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them . . .” (Jer 45:5 NIV). When we only consider our own interest we become indifferent to others. When selfishness runs without restraint families are fractured, business are bankrupt, relationships are ruined. Richard Whately writes, “A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.” Paul reminds us, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Rom 2:8 NIV).
Selfishness Defines Fraud. James challenges us, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (Jam 3:16 NIV). Pope John Paul II writes, “The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” A disingenuous life always leads to deceit.
T. W. Manson writes, “In the Kingdom of God, service is not a stepping-stone to nobility: it is nobility, the only kind of nobility that is recognized.” Paul tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal 5:13 NET)
The only cure for selfishness is surrendering to the selfless Savior and serving others. His example encourages us to live in humility, thinking of others more than we think of ourselves, and to take an interest others.