I don’t know about you but I have an incredible capacity to be selfish. Unfortunately, my wife feels the consequences of my self-centeredness more than anyone else. When I let my wife get up with the crying 2 year old at 3am instead of getting up and comforting her myself…selfish. The many times I allow my wife to clean up the kitchen after dinner unassisted…selfish. When I fail to help her clean house…selfish. The times I complain about her time away from home which require me to do extra daddy duty…selfish. I could go on and on but you get the picture. I have a selfish streak which runs wide. I come by all of this honestly; I, as David said of himself in Psalm 51, was born in sin and wrestle with a sinful nature. Of course I also have a new nature in Christ and for this reason my selfishness grieves my heart when it raises its ugly head. So how can I stop being selfish?
We know we should stop being selfish. We know God doesn’t want us to be so. Selfishness is costly both to ourselves and those around us. Many times this “cost” presents itself in unforeseen ways. I recently came across a story from C.R.Gibson’s “Wellsprings of Wisdom” illustrating this last point:
“Ralph L. Woods: An ambitious farmer, unhappy about the yield of his crops, heard of a highly recommended new seed corn. He bought some and produced a crop that was so abundant his astonished neighbors asked him to sell them a portion of the new seed. But the farmer, afraid that he would lose a profitable competitive advantage, refused. The second year the new seed did not produce as good a crop, and when the third-year crop was still worse it dawned upon the farmer that his prize corn was being pollinated by the inferior grade of corn from his neighbors’ fields.”
Everyone, including we ourselves, pay a price for our selfishness.
If you and I want to cease being selfish we must remember the selflessness of Jesus. We must pray God would make us more like Christ and act on our prayers in faith. To put this cure in more specific terms: Read Philippians 2:5-8, ask God to make us humble and begin making new choices based on the belief God is changing us. This of course means taking captive faithless, lazy, selfish thoughts and replacing them with faith filled thoughts and actions. It means considering the needs of others ahead of our own. It means loving others as Christ does. It means becoming a servant. So as simple as the answer may be it isn’t easy. The cure for selfishness comes with a price and the price is ourselves.
The most rampant of all sin finds its root in pride and this plays out in our lives as selfishness. Humility is the natural remedy for this unwanted behavior and the greatest demonstration of such has always been found in the character and actions of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest teaching methods of the first century was imitation. Paul told the Philippian church they should imitate men of faith such as Timothy and Epaphroditus. However, the greatest One we could ever imitate is Jesus Himself. May we follow after the humility and selflessness of Christ today!
Cures for Selfishness:
- Read and memorize Philippians 2:5-8
- Pray and ask God to give you humility
- Begin taking “faith-filled” action on your prayers by loving others, taking selfish thoughts captive and considering the needs of others ahead of your own