A Christianís approach to life situations part 13

Selfishness

 

How many times have we gone to Wal-Mart and seen spoiled kids throwing temper tantrums because they were not getting their way? Or how many times have we seen young children not want to share their toys? Why do they do this? Itís because they are selfish and they are only thinking of themselves. Many times we hear young children say I want this and I want that, but we understand that this happens in young children because they are still in the process of learning that they are not the only person in the universe. While it is sad to see a child being selfish it is sadder to see a selfish adult. Notice what Paul says in,

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1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

Just as Paul said, when we become adults we are supposed to stop thinking like children and we are supposed to be mature and put away childish things like being selfish. However, some people never seem to grow out of their selfishness and it follows them into the adulthood. One great example of this comes from those in Hollywood. For instance, it was reported thatJ-lo, who was going to give a speech for the 9-11 event, called beforehand and told them that she had to have a room with white carpet, a white couch a certain kind of wooden hangers and so on. Do see how spoiled and selfish she was behaving. Based on her actions she was more concerned about her personal preferences than she was about the tragedy of 9-11.

 

Selfishness is not limited to Hollywood it also comes from everyday people as well. In fact, I am sure everyone here probably knows a selfish person and many of us probably know one in our own family. Let me give you example that most of you can relate to. Whenever you get ready to have a family gathering, do you have that one family member that wants to control when and where you have your get together? They will do whatever they can to make everyone conform to their wishes. This kind of person is being selfish because all they are doing is thinking of themselves and what will work out best for them.

 

But the saddest thing to me is when you see a child of God being selfish. If anyone should learn not be selfish it is a Christian. Jesus told us,

 

Luke 9:23Ö "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

 

How can we follow this command and be selfish at the same time? We cannot. So, I want to show several examples of how selfishness causes problems and why we should avoid being selfish. One of the first problems with selfishness is that it will cause you to do things that you wouldnít normally do just so you get your way. I think we have a great example of this with the story of Ahab and Jezebel.

 

1 Kings 21:1 And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.2 So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money."3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!"4 So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food.5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, "Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?"6 He said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.' "7 Then Jezebel his wife said to him, "You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."

 

As we read Naboth had vineyard very close to Ahabís house and so Ahab really wanted to have it. We see that Naboth wasnít about to give up his vineyard that had been passed down from generation to generation. This makes Ahab mad and all he could think about is what he wanted. He could care less about the history behind it. So, what did Ahab do? He sulks and throws a pity party and wont eat just like a little child. Then Jezebel acting like a mother to a young child wants to know what Ahabís problem is. Then he whines and complains about how Naboth wouldnít give him his vineyard. Well, Jezebel wants to make spoiled Ahab feel better so she uses his name on some letters and has some false witness say that Naboth was blaspheming God so that he would be stoned to death and this is exactly what happened. Now Ahab was able to take Nabothís vineyard at the cost of his life. This of course did not go unnoticed by God and He deals with this later on in the chapter. However, the main point I want you to see from this example is that selfishness can cause a person to do things that cause them to sin and to cause harm to others.

 

When a person thinks of themselves first all the time and they want to get their way, many times that person will lie, cheat and even possible steal to make sure their needs are met. But I can promise you that God will take notice of such things and they will have to give account to God for their selfish deeds.

 

Another problem with selfishness is that is causes us to be miserable. Those who are constantly trying to satisfy their own needs above others end up being miserable because they are never satisfied because they always feel like they need more and more. A great example of this comes from the story of Esther. First letís take a look at Haman and how he was promoted by the King.

 

Esther 3:1After these things King Ahasuerus<a-haz-u-e'-rus> promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him.2 And all the king's servants who were within the king's gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.3 Then the king's servants who were within the king's gate said to Mordecai, "Why do you transgress the king's command?"4 Now it happened, when they spoke to him daily and he would not listen to them, that they told it to Haman, to see whether Mordecai's words would stand; for Mordecai had told them that he was a Jew.5 When Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow or pay him homage, Haman was filled with wrath. ††

 

Here we see Hamanís rise to power and oh how he loved how the people bowed down to him. But it caused his great grief when Mordecai would not bow to him. You see Haman had a problem with being selfish because he wanted everyone to bow to him. As you are about see he was very self-centered and it caused him to be miserable on the inside.

 

Esther 5:9 So Haman went out that day joyful and with a glad heart; but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king's gate, and that he did not stand or tremble before him, he was filled with indignation against Mordecai.10 Nevertheless Haman restrained himself and went home, and he sent and called for his friends and his wife Zeresh.11 Then Haman told them of his great riches, the multitude of his children, everything in which the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and servants of the king.12 Moreover Haman said, "Besides, Queen Esther invited no one but me to come in with the king to the banquet that she prepared; and tomorrow I am again invited by her, along with the king.13 "Yet all this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king's gate."

 

Ole Haman was walking on cloud nine until he saw Mordecai and once again it made him mad knowing the he would not bow down to him. Nest Haman talks to his wife and his friends and he brags about the money and the power he has given and how he had such a good standing with the king. For most people this would be enough to satisfy them, but not Haman because notice he basically says none of these things matter as long as Mordecai sits in the kingís Gate. Do you see how greedy and selfish he was? He could not be satisfied until he had everyone bowing to him and this made him miserable.

 

Well, the same thing is true for people who are selfish today. Because no matter how many times things go their way they always want more and more and when they donít get it will make them absolutely miserable.

 

Another problem with selfishness is that it can destroy relationships

 

How many times have you had a supposed friend that only used you when they needed you? This is what you call a one-sided friendship. When they feel like they want someone to talk to or they canít find someone else to go with them, then they will call you. Or perhaps they need someone to watch their kids and so they will use you as baby-sister. However, whenever you try to get them to do something with you or to watch your kids, they come up with all kinds of excuses of why they canít do it. Basically, you are only their friend when they can use you to fulfill their own selfish needs. This kind of one sided friendship will not last long because it is built on selfishness.

 

Selfishness can also reek havoc on a marriage. Paul says this in,

 

Ephesians 5:28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

 

Paul also teaches the wives to love their husbands in Titus 2:4. You see, we are supposed treat each other with respect and love and care for one another. But when one mate is selfish, then the other mate will constantly be miserable because they will constantly be trying to satisfy their mateís needs. When selfishness is in a marriage that marriage is doomed to fail because there is no way for there not to be a great deal of strife in that relationship. So, a Christians we must learn to compromise in our relationships and find a common ground that both man and wife can live with.

 

Another problem with selfishness is that is a sin.

 

I want you to notice what Paul says in,

 

2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

 

Paul tells us to turn away from these kinds of people he has listed. But did you notice that lovers of themselves is listed first. This is talking about those who are selfish and this whole list are characteristics of those who will not make it into heaven because these things are sins, which includes being selfish. Paul shows this again by way of contrast in the book of Romans.

 

Romans 2:7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness -- indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;

 

Notice those who are self-seeking that is those who are selfish are describes as doing evil and they will face the wrath of God.

 

With this in mind this brings us to our next problem with selfishness in that it will cost you your soul.

 

If we die in this state of selfishness, we will lose our soul to the devil and we will not step one foot into heaven. A great example of this is found in the story of the farmer in,

 

Luke 12:16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.17 "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?'18 "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.19 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." '20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'

 

Now in this parable Jesus is teaching about not being covetous, but the reason this farmer was being so greedy was because he was being selfish and only thinking of himself. We can see this from the fact that he was constantly talking about himself. He said I am going to do this and these are my things. This is exactly how a selfish person thinks and now we see that his soul was required of him and he died in this state and now instead of taking it easy and enjoying his selfishness, he would now be sharing a seat right next to the rich man who wouldnít help Lazarus and Judas who betrayed Jesus for a little bit of money.

 

Friends, if you see that you have selfishness in your lives surely you can understand that you need change your ways because being selfish is a very serious matter and not only will it keep you out of heaven, it will make you and everyone else miserable while we are here on this earth. To help encourage you to make this change just simply open your Bible and begin to read the countless examples in the NT of how Christians did many selfless acts. For instance, look at what they did in,

 

Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

 

Do you see any selfishness in what they were doing? Absolutely not! They were looking out for one another. Of course the greatest example is Jesus himself. Could you image if he had been selfish and stayed in heaven instead of suffering on the cross for you and I. Jesus is our master example and there wasnít a selfish bone in his body and we must learn not to have a selfish bone in our bodies.If we are going to be pleasing to God, we must work hard not to be a selfish person.

 

Perhaps the greatest section of scripture that teaches us how not to be selfish person is found in,

 

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy,2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

 

I hope that each of us will take Paulís words to heart and put them into practice. Not only can we use Godís word to help us overcome selfishness we can also use the power of prayer as the writer of Psalm 119 did,

 

ESV Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

 

If we will study Godís Word and pray for help, I believe all of us can overcome the selfishness in our lives.

 

I hope this lesson this morning has taught you how serious the problem of selfishness is and how we can overcome it. No one wants to share seat next to the farmer or to Judas in Hades, but if you continue on being selfish this is where you will end up. So I urge you to get selfishness out of your life by praying to God for help and by studying His Word.