Mark 8:34, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself”
1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being”
Webster defines the word selfishness as devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, regardless of others. So, would you consider yourself as a selfish person? I believe that we all are selfish to a certain extent, some more than others. However, we (that is those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ) must never allow our selfishness in our personal desires, pleasures, or whatever else, to have priority over the ministry to which we have been called. Our priority should be given to Jesus Christ, the One who came from heaven’s glory and shed His blood at Calvary to save us from our sins.
Not long ago I read a story of the collision of two ships at sea. The sad part is the collision didn’t have to happen. However, the collision resulted from the I, me and myself attitude of selfishness and speaks so succinctly to heart of this devotional. In 1986 two ships collided in the Black Sea hurling hundreds of passengers into the icy waters and causing a tragic loss of life. News of this tragic disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed that the accident was caused by human stubbornness. Each captain was aware of the other ship’s presence and both could have taken evasive action to avert the collision.
However, neither wanted to yield to the other. They wanted to have their own way and by the time they saw the error of their way, it was too late. The action of these two captains’ is the way most individuals are and sadly to say this also includes those who profess Christ as Savior of their life. We tend to put our personal desires and pleasures above all else. Throughout the Scriptures there are many examples of selfish individuals. I’m mindful of the selfish attitude of Jonah who was upset because a worm had destroyed a vine that shaded him from the scorching sun (Jonah 4:9). Yet, he didn’t care that many men, women, and children in Nineveh might be destroyed; in Mark 10:37 you can read about two disciples who selfishly asked for positions of power in Christ’s coming kingdom, or in the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church you will see examples of selfish behavior (1:10; 3:3; 5:1; 6:6-8; 11:21).
According to James, even greater havoc and loss can be created in human relationships for similar reasons (James 3:14-16). We prefer to blame the world’s problems on religious or political differences; however, James said the root problem is “bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts” (James 3:14), which stems from pride. That’s what caused Lucifer to fall from heaven (Isaiah 14:12), and Adam and Eve to lose their innocence in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6). So, what is the solution to our dilemma? How can we keep the I, me, and myself attitude of selfishness from turning into major disasters? Simply, we must draw on the wisdom that is from above.
A wisdom that is “pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits” (James 3:17). Believers in Christ must give their priority in doing His will and in serving Him unselfishly regardless of how painful the surrender of our will may seem; thus our obedience to God saves us from unhappy loss in this world and irrecoverable loss in the world to come. Proverbs 14:12 should remind us that a sinful insistence on self-will can be self-destructive: “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.” Trustful obedience to God’s way, however, brings blessing both now and forever. Whenever you feel like saying, “I want to do it my way,” remember that Jesus did it His Father’s way.
(1) So, how are you doing on the I, me, and myself attitude of selfishness?
(2) Are you giving priority in doing His will instead of your own will?
Remember, many of our troubles come from wanting our own way! The others come from being allowed to have it.