To be selfish is a sin, and it is a sin that easily goes under the radar because it is hard to detect and much harder to prove. Whenever we have plenty and refuse to share with others, especially fellow Christians, this is selfishness. The apostle John wrote, “...Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him” (1 Jn. 3:17)?
Despite this verse, many Christians who have much refuse to help those who have little. Even in their politics, they will vote for people who pass laws to limit the help of the helpless. Brethren, if we have the love of God within us, then we will not seek our own (1 Cor 13:5). Selfish people are lacking in the love of God!
Some churches make very little effort to help evangelize by assisting preachers around the world. They will sponsor gospel meetings, spend money upgrading their buildings, and subsidize their programs, but they are reluctant to send money to an evangelist in a difficult field of labor. This they do despite having a large treasury and no plan to use it for the gospel’s sake. This is selfishness.
Philippi sent unto Paul at Thessalonica once and again for his necessities (Phil. 4:16). From the Thessalonians was “sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith in God-ward is spread abroad” (1 Thess. 1:8). The church at Antioch had the missionary spirit to take the gospel into all the world (Acts 13:3). Churches supported Paul while he was at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8). Those brethren could not wait to share with others the heavenly blessings in Christ.
Selfishness appears in our homes as well. Too many husbands will buy themselves all of their wants (boats, cars) will neglecting the wants and needs of their wife and children. Many husbands spend too much time watching their big screen TVs in their man cave than they do attending the needs of their wife. Too many wives will spend money on beauty products and expensive clothes and shoes, which appeal to the outward person, while they neglect the needs of their children. Some even refuse to have children altogether as they would interfere with their personal freedom. Some children place excessive burdens on their parents for designer clothes, their first car, and expensive colleges, and not consider how much their parents have to sacrifice to provide such luxuries.
Some parents drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and take illegal drugs, while their children don’t have enough to eat or wear. Much too often husbands and wives are selfish in their own bedrooms. “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor 7:3-5).
The prodigal son was a selfish young man (Lk 15:11-32). He insisted that his father divide the property between himself and his brother, although he was not entitled to it until the death of his father. It might cripple his father’s financial transactions and cause his brother to receive less an inheritance, but that was no concern of his. It would be hard to find a more selfish character. Let us have love and concern for one another in our family.
Nabal was a very selfish man (1 Sam. 25). He was a wealthy man with 3,000 sheep and a thousand goats, but yet refused the request of David and his men for necessary provisions when they were fleeing from Saul. Nabal became incensed and with scathing insults, said to the men, “Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers, and give it to men when I do not know where they are from” (1 Sam 25:11). Though David and his men served as a wall of protection, both by night and day unto Nabal and his household (v. 16), Nabal, a rude and evil man cared only for himself.
Christians must be concerned about their neighbor’s good and the welfare of the community in which they live. We must take an interest in the needs of our community and try to do something about them. “Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Christians must be like the good Samaritan and not like the priest and Levite who passed by and walked on without helping (Lk. 10:25-37).
No one could be more selfish than the rich who steal the wages from those who work for them while they live in luxury. James said of these, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you“. Too many rich men today want to lower the wages of the working class while they live in the lap of luxury. They ask for tax breaks from their government and demand that the working man pay it back through cuts to his social security and health care. Remember, God is watching their selfishness and those who assist them!
Such was the case of the rich man and Lazurus (Lk 16:19-31). The rich man had much, lived in luxury, and fared sumptuously every day, yet he had no pity upon a poor, sickly man who begged for crumbs which fell from his table. Yet, when they both died, the rich man woke up in hell desiring that Lazarus place a drop of water on his tongue to relieve his thirst. This is the same man who wouldn’t lift a finger to relieve Lazarus while on earth of his hunger or pain.
Today, we see the poor and impoverished immigrants who approach the borders of a very rich country in order to seek asylum. What will they meet if they ever get there? Border fences and a massive army who have orders from a very wealthy leader to shoot to kill anyone who dares pick up a stone. Most of these immigrants, after they have walked hundreds of miles, will be too weak to pick up a loaf of bread and place it to their mouths to eat, much less pick up a stone to attack anyone. Remember, Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned not only for their abominations but also for their selfishness. “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezek 16:49).
May we try to cultivate within ourselves a heart that is completely void of selfishness and pattern our lives after him who unselfishly gave his life for our sakes. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). And how should we use those blessings from on high? “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me” (Rom 15:1-3).