It’s one of the greatest threats to a healthy Church. In fact, I would go so far as to say that selfishness is perhaps the greatest threat to society at large and the root cause of the vast majority of problems in the world today.
We live in a world where our own selfish desires, wants and perceived needs are nurtured, encouraged and allowed to dominate most of our choices from day to day. This produces a very sick and sad world … but it filters back into the Church and destroys the very fabric of the Body of Christ on earth. Selfishness is the No.1 enemy to the fulfilment of God’s purposes on earth. Selfishness is the root cause of 99% of tensions, disputes and divisions within the Church.
The need to identify, confess and eradicate selfishness in our attitudes and actions should be our highest priority … not only if we want to grow a healthy Church … but if we want to grow a healthy society also.
Matthew 16:24-25 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever would save his life shall lose it: and whoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
These are words of Jesus, words in which he points out that we must renounce our self in order to be His full and complete disciple. Notice particularly the expression “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself.” The denial of self is one of our most difficult problems and it has been with us from birth. Christ not only taught against selfishness, he gave a perfect cure for it. That cure is love. The centre of Christ’s teachings is love. Jesus commanded it often. He taught it clearly and distinctly:
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
He also said, “Love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). Many young couples end up broken by selfishness. Jesus even foresaw such a possibility as that and guided Paul to say, “Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies.” (Ephesians 5:28). How much does a man love his body? Enough that he feeds it, enough that he cares for it, enough that he protects it every way he knows how. To that very great degree every Christian husband is to love his own wife. And of course what is commanded of the husband is also commanded of the wife.
Many of us would be better husbands, better wives if we could only see selfishness for what it is. Selfishness is the way of the world, and stands in bold contrast to the way of Christ. The world’s way is dog eat dog, the strong overpower the weak. Christ taught His disciples to turn the other cheek. He was willing to be crucified rather than destroy his enemies even though he could have called twelve legions of angels to do so. It wasn’t Christ’s way. Look at those people who crucified him. Look at His enemies. They selfishly killed him to get him out of their way. For the moment they won the battle, but it was only for the moment. As the centuries have come and gone it has become even more obvious that Christ really won the hearts of the people.
His is the permanent victory. Selfishness never makes friends. Selfishness never brings happiness. When Jesus came into the world unselfishly to give himself for mankind, He was demonstrating that the best way is the selfless way of serving others. Love one another. Christ still says to us today, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life shall lose it, and whoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”