Have you ever done something that was good for someone else but you just didn’t feel like doing it? Maybe you had to help a family member or a neighbor with something and it was something they really needed, but you just weren’t up to it at that time. Perhaps you got frustrated at whatever you were doing simply because you didn’t want to be there. Does that make you a bad person? Not necessarily. I mean, should we help those who are in need? Absolutely. Do we always feel like helping people? No, not always. So what is that little thing inside of us that holds us back from doing what’s right?
I’m sure most of you can think of a selfish person you’ve known at one point or another in your life. It’s the guy who never holds the door open for you, or the person who cuts in line even though you’ve been waiting longer, or the person who eats most of the food while leaving you with a very small amount.
Selfishness is all around us and it’s easy to spot in those who wrong us. Author Stephen Kendrick said, “Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves.” Think about the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind in Genesis 3. When confronted by God and asked if he had eaten from the tree which God commanded not to eat, Adam quickly placed the blame somewhere else. Instead of owning up to the failure Adam said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me gave me the fruit and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). We may notice that Adam shifts the blame on the woman very quickly, but notice also who was initially blamed: God. “The woman whom YOU gave me…” Adam shifted his failure to the God who created him and his wife, Eve. Even early on, selfishness reared its ugly head into perfection and quickly took a downward spiral of no one thinking of anyone and everyone out for themselves.
I think if most of us are honest, we can see our own selfishness. It’s so easy to spot the flaws in others, but it can be difficult to see where we mess up. I think it’s why Jesus said to take the huge plank out of our own eye before we try to remove the tiny speck in someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
Most of the time when we find that we’re being selfish, it’s usually a heart issue, and I don’t mean heart issue as in you need to see a doctor. When doctors inoculate (in-oc-u-late) someone with a vaccine, they’re doing it to create an immunity to a certain disease. So to be inoculated means to create a sort of shield from a certain sickness or disease. I believe that a lot of us are inoculated to our own issues. Some of us have become so familiar with how we are that we don’t even see a problem with how we act. This is the heart issue I’m talking about.
This inoculation we’re talking about can mask itself in many different forms, but the key is to realize that you have an issue. You also need to realize that you have a choice to stay where you are or move forward to become more Christ-like. The issue of selfishness is so much more than simply not helping someone because you don’t feel like it at the time. The selfish nature tends to creep into every aspect of your life where you end up choosing what’s good for you and hurtful for someone else.
There’s a song quote I’ve tried to use throughout my life to sort of keep me in check. I have good intentions but I can assure you that I don’t live up to the song quote as much as I wish. The quote goes: “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody” (Williams Brothers). I don’t live up to this quote because too often I think about myself too much. Instead of putting the needs of others before my own, I tend to check how I will come out on top and how I will be benefited. One great reality check for me was getting married. A selfish person in marriage will create strife and one sided decisions. I’ve only been married for 2 years now and I’ve learned that selfishness cannot live in a happy marriage—the same is true for a disciple of Jesus.
How can we tell everyone about Jesus if we’re either not thinking about them or thinking about ourselves too much? It’s an oxymoron—it will not work. To be a disciple is to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24).
Issues of the heart are deeply rooted, which is why they need to be checked at the door before entering into the new life in Christ. If these issues aren’t checked, then they will not allow you to live the full life Christ died to give you. I encourage you to pray earnestly for heart work. I want you to pray that God would open your mind and heart to his greatness and the mission he has set before you.
Genesis 3 // Matthew 7:5 // Matthew 16:24 // Matthew 28:16-20 // Psalm 119:36