by Pastor Joby Soriano
We are living in the “I” generation. People don’t understand the concept of service or sacrifice before self. The “I” Generation is all about “I” and “me” and “mine.” Everyone is obsessed with self.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails;” (NASB). The Apostle Paul tells us in verse 5 that love does not seek its own. When God looks down at His spiritual children, His heart is overjoyed when we are unselfish, but also aches when we keep putting ourselves first. Here are 3 truths that we need to understand about what the Bible says about ourselves and the sin of selfishness.
1. Caution – Beware of “I” in Selfishness
Selfishness goes against everything that Jesus taught. 2 Timothy 3:1-2, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.”
Selfishness is not a small problem. Selfishness is one of the most serious sins that a man can commit. In fact, six of the Ten Commandments are directed primarily against the sin of selfishness. Selfishness is the root of all other sins. The definition of selfishness is acting or thinking of one’s own well-being alone. The Corinthian believers were models of what loving Christians should not be. They were selfish to the extreme. They did not share their food at love feasts, they protected their rights to the point of suing fellow believers in pagan law courts, and they wanted the “best” spiritual gifts to build themselves up instead of others in the church.
It is almost impossible to have a true meaningful relationship with a person who only thinks about himself or herself. Let’s be reminded that the opposite of love is not hate; it is indifference. And indifference has its roots in selfishness. This applies to a lack of compassion for people who need the Lord. 1 John 3:17, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” You can’t be selfish and loving at the same time.
2. Cause – “I” is in the center of Sin
Sin is when we fall short of the standard of God. We are not living in obedience to God. The reason is because of “I”. Look at James 4:1-2, “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.”
The cause of relational conflicts is simple: someone is not getting their way. As long as I put “I” first, it is only a matter of time before “I” meets someone else who wants to be first and the result according to the Bible is “fights and quarrels.” Think back to your last fight with your parents, family member, co-worker or friend: What was your fight about and why? “What did you want?” If we really looked at it and had you come up here to share what it probably came down to, most likely you didn’t get your way because the other person insisted on their way. What’s most important in God’s eyes is not who is right but that your relationship with Him is right.
Many churchgoers silently and selfishly demand that church be done the way they want – to meet their needs. They don’t realize that the church is not just about them. It is composed of many who all have different needs that the church is trying to meet especially for those outside the church. If churchgoers don’t get their way they grumble to others to cause division within the church. If your marriage is suffering realize that God can’t help you until you both are willing to take “I” out of yourself to humbly care and serve the needs of your partner.
3. Cure – No longer “I” but Christ
What is the cure to selfishness in our lives? Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” This verse is declaring a change of ownership in our lives. Our hearts are transformed to live for Jesus and not for our selves anymore.
How does this happen? Whereas the root of our lives were once of this world of sin and evil, our new roots are changed to godliness as Christ comes into our lives. As we abide in God, His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit the evidence or the fruit will naturally come forth. In this case, love. We cannot manufacture love on our own. It is simply a by-product of our being rooted in God Himself. Of course we will struggle with out natural flesh, “the old self” in our life, but now we have the freedom to choose godly living. Being in Christ means – I live for Him, not myself.
Let us remember 3 simple words that deliver us from the curse of selfishness – Surrender, Service and Self-denial. When we are truly secure in our relationship with the Lord, we will be willing to surrender whatever we think is most precious to us knowing that God will give us what’s best. We conquer our selfishness with an attitude of service to others. And lastly, self-denial gives others a chance to experience Christ’s love in action.
Jesus loves us unselfishly. If you were with the disciples, He would have washed your feet just as it was written in John 13:5. Yet in a matter of hours, as payment for our sins His own feet would be nailed to a cross, along with the hands that washed those feet. Jesus did His part for you; you need to do your part by receiving by faith the gift of salvation that Jesus freely gives so you can have the security of a personal relationship with Him and share that love that does not seek its own.
Next Month: Let Go and Let Love by Pastor EJ Del Mundo