What is selfishness?
Selfishness is being concerned, sometimes excessively or exclusively, with concern for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare regardless of others.
Have you ever seen or met someone who is consumed with selfishness? Maybe that is an extreme case or maybe it is not. We call people selfish but in truth are they just consumed with their desires?
Consumed– to destroy or expend by use; use up.
Or could it be that we have grown so accustom to the thoughts of selfishness that we do not recognize those thoughts or actions in us anymore? Have we truly asked ourselves the question, am I selfish? Do I want everyone to do what I want regardless of what it is, or how it might affect others? We can all be selfish at any time. So another question we can consider is do we have a right to be selfish? Maybe a way to understand why we are selfish or think we have a right to be selfish is to look at our desires and motivations. We also need to look at the consequences of those actions on ourselves and those around us. Selfishness is centered in I me and mine, and is usually accompanied with arrogance, pride, fear and deception.
Motivation– It is the scientific word used to represent the reasons for our actions, our desires, our needs and so on.
So where do these motivations and desires come from? I would say they come from within us and are part of us unless we are taught differently. Also I would say that they also come naturally to the natural man. We seek something to fill that longing in us to be part of something but we are not sure exactly what it is. Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. So we do good or evil depending on the treasure in our heart. So we have good or bad desires and motivations in our heart that we want to do. So as Christians, why do we choose the selfish desires? The reason we choose the selfish desires is because we are either deceived in our beliefs or we have not fully surrendered to the will of the Father for our lives. We have made a choice to do things our way because that is what is in our heart to do. We can make any excuse we want, blame anyone we want, point fingers at whoever but the truth is that we made a choice. Remember that we also said that selfishness is usually found with arrogance, pride, fear and deceit. We are selfish because we want all the attention (glory) that we think will come with whatever we are doing. This feeds our arrogance which states that only we can do this or that and no one else can do it like we can. Fear comes in and says that it will not get done right or the way it needs to get done according to us. Deceit show up when we say God will bless us because we are helping others, doing for others or making sure things get done right, because we are the only one who can do it.
We see in Mathew 15:14 Jesus speaking of the Pharisees “They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” The Pharisees are a good example of selfishness and how it leads people into destruction. They were arrogant in believing they were the chosen ones to lead the people in all matters concerning God. They were selfish because they wanted to be worshiped and followed like Jesus was. They operated in fear and spread fear to others because they were afraid they would lose their position, there standing and there perceived status if Christ was not dealt with. They operated in deception and spread deception to others because they believed they were right in all they did and said, and only they knew what was right and the right way to worship God. We see Jesus speaking about the Pharisees in John 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murder from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him, when he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a lair and the father of it.” Also in Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren. Does this not describe the action of the Pharisees toward Christ? Do any of these apply to any of us?
When we chose to be selfish we have to lie to ourselves to convince ourselves that what we are doing is right. To make sure we are right we have to attack anyone who disagrees with us and blame them if things do not work out like we want. We try to fool ourselves by believing the lie that we are doing what is right even when someone points out in the scripture that what we are doing is wrong according to God. In addition we need to deceive others into helping us accomplish our goals by any means necessary. Selfishness always leads to destruction and loss. Does this sound familiar? Is this not what the Pharisees did to put Jesus on the cross? Who are we putting on the cross (destroying) because of our selfishness?
So who is exempt from these selfish desires? In truth, there is no one who is exempt from these desires and drives. So how do we know when we are operating in selfishness and when we are operating in truth? Why are we focusing on what we want? What is driving these desires in us? Is our selfishness blinding us to what is really going on around us? Why don’t we see or why do we deny the destruction that we are bringing into our lives and the lives of others? Why will we sacrifice our lives, finances, family and relationships in a desperate attempt to fulfill these desires?
How do we know when we are operating in selfishness and when we are operating in truth? In John 8:32 it says, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Truth– That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality; a fact or belief that is accepted as true. The opposite of truth is falsehood. (Lies, deception and so on)
The best way to make sure is to ask some very simple questions.
When we are operating in truth we will have peace, joy and freedom in what we are doing. Others may or may not want to get involved with what we are doing but our response will always be that they ask God to see what He says they should do. If we do start to get the praise we will always make sure that we point the praise to God instead of us. We will know if God is in this with us because we will see our labor bear good fruit. We will also have peace and joy in doing what we are doing without fear, or worry. We will also have more than enough to complete whatever it is and it will not diminish what we have for ourselves or our family. Philippines 4:19 and my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Why are we focused on what we want, and what is driving these desires in us?
There could be many answers to these questions. The one I think is the most relevant to this discussion is that something is missing in our lives and we do not know what it is. We are trying to please someone, get acceptance from someone or wanting to be loved by someone or everyone. Something is missing inside of us and we are afraid that if we do not do what we are doing we will lose what we have or what we think we could get. The devil is lying to us, and because we chose to believe the lie, we walk in fear, which is the opposite of faith, and we are being deceived. We need to remember that we cannot make anyone, other than ourselves, change what they are doing, being or becoming. If we try, then we are operating in deception which is the same thing as lying. We are lying to ourselves and to others and remember what God says. Proverbs 21:6 Getting treasure by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death. When you lie to get what you think you need or believe you should have you are destroying your own life. The reason is that when the lies are exposed (and they always are, do not deceive yourself) friendships are lost or damaged, relationships are damaged and trust is out the door. In essence, those relationships have suffered some kind of death. We cannot make people love us, is the old saying. We either accept individuals as they are or we do not. They either accept us like we are or not, we cannot change this truth no matter what we do. This is the simple truth. Actions motivated by fear always bring destruction because they are not rooted in anything true or tangible. (FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real) Where are you operating?
Why does our selfishness blind us to what is really going on around us and why do we not see the destruction it is causing? Why will we sacrifice everything for these desires? Here again I cannot give you every reason because I do not know every reason. I can only share what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. Some of the answers are in the paragraphs prior to this one. I can tell you that if you want to know the truth about your situation you need to look no further than the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He (the Holy Spirit) would lead us into all truth. John 16:13. I think that if we are honest with ourselves, the answers will and do come to us. We have to choose to see the truth as it is presented by the Holy Spirit, then we have to choose to change our attitude which will change our motivations which will change the direction of our life. The one overriding reason for any blindness to the truth that He (the Holy Spirit) revels to us will be rooted in our pride. Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. And it is further expanded in Proverbs 14:12, There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. We want to be right because we are deceived by Satan about being right. We are told that we need to grab all we can because this is all there is. Pride says that we are the only one who can do it. It says that we should be rewarded for what we are doing. Fear says only we can do this. It says that if we do not do this no one else will. It is our responsibility to take charge of this because it is our duty. We will lose something, someone or everything we think we need in our life. We will say “I have to do it because I want to prove I am a good daughter, son, worker, leader and they need to see this and love me for it.” Idolatry says that we are the hand of God doing His good works for Him in His name and everyone should see that. The reason I am suffering is because God wants to teach me something or I am suffering to prove I love God above all else. Deception says that everyone just needs to trust God, because we know what He wants in every situation no matter how it sounds or what it costs. Remember that God will take care of everyone if they will just follow without question. If others say, “This does not sound right,” or they say “I do not think this is the right way to do things,” or they say that other areas in our life seem to be out of order according to scripture. Do we get angry, resentful, vengeful, and go on the attack and say they just need to trust God. Yet in 1 John 4:1. We are told to test the spirits to see if they are of God. Why are we then getting angry with others who are only doing what God has already told them to do? In Mathew 7:17, 18. God tell us and others to check out our fruit to see if it is good fruit or bad fruit. What is our life like and how is our walk with God and our attitude toward others? Do we show the spirit of God working in us or the spirit of self-seeking? Is there confusion, lack, anger, fear, deception and things out of order according to God’s word operating in our life? We need to look no further than James 3:16. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. When we are self-seeking (looking to ourselves only and only to what we want) we are deceived and we willing accept the lies of Satan, because we have chosen to be blind to the truth of our desires and motivations. We allow all the attributes and demons of the devil to move in and operate fully in our life, to destroy not only our own lives but those around us. Remember, 1 Timothy 1:7. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. This is the work of the enemy of our soul and the souls of those around us. We can stay in deception, lies and selfishness all our life and we will get our just rewards. Is that really what we want? It is our choices that determine the path of our life. Joshua 24:15 ….choose for yourselves this day who you will serve………… We are going to serve someone all of our life. We will choose ourselves (selfish desires, and motivations) and Satan or we will choose to serve God. We will serve the father of lies or the Father of all truth. There are no other choices. As for me I am going to serve the Father of all truth. How about you?
Studies by Pastor Greg Campbell