Moving Beyond Selfishness to Love

New York City-Photo by: Mark J. Booth

True love has many enemies.  Some of these enemies are hatred, lust, ignorance, and jealousy; however, the greatest enemy of love is selfishness.  Love gives.  Selfishness takes.  Love thinks of others.  Selfishness thinks of self.  Selfishness is: “The desire for one’s own gain without regard for God and others.”  Selfishness has destroyed marriages, families, work relationships, individual lives and even churches.

Do I show evidence of selfishness in my life?

  • Am I a lover of self?  “For men shall be lovers of their own selves.” (2 Timothy 3:2) The last days will be a time when people’s self-love will reach new heights; however, selfishness is rampant even today.
  • Do I seek to please self? “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1) Selfishness says: “I will please myself.  I don’t care what God and others think.”
  • Do I seek my way? “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philippians 2:21) Selfishness says: “It’s my way or the highway”  Frank Sinatra sang a song glorifying selfishness: “I Did it My Way”. Is this our life theme as well?
  • Do I seek my gain?  “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John 3:17)  Selfishness says: “What is mine is mine.”  This was the philosophy of the scribe and Levite that passed by the man who was dying in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
  • Do I seek first place?  “They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.” (Mark 10:37) James and John, ignoring the other disciples, sought the most important places in Christ’s kingdom. Selfishness runs over others; so that we can be first.  Our goal becomes not the success of others, but our success. 

People dismiss selfishness as something that exists in our lives.  We may try to control it a bit, but we love to satisfy ourselves; however, this selfish spirit destroys our relationship with others, including God. Are we prepared to replace selfishness with love?

How can I move beyond selfishness to love?

  1. Have an intimate relationship with God, the source of love.  “God is love.”  He is the author of love.  He showed his love toward us by sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.  John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  When we place our faith in Christ as Savior, we become a child of God.  This loving relationship enables us to share the love we receive from the Father towards others.  We are like a water hose.  A hose doesn’t produce the water, but it disperses the water.  We don’t produce love, but we disperse God’s love to those He brings into our lives.
  2. Learn and apply the qualities of love in your life.  1 Corinthians 13:4-7 show the qualities of love.  Take the time to meditate upon each quality.  Think about how Christ demonstrated each of these qualities.  Also, think about how you can demonstrate these qualities in your life. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
  3. Look unto Christ as your example of love. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)  Christ demonstrated love in spite of the hatred that was demonstrated against Him. How does Christ show His perfect love towards us?
  • The sacrifice of His love.  Christ gave his life for us.  How about our love for others?  Are we willing to sacrifice for those God places into our lives.  “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
  • The permanence of His love.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)  Nothing stops Christ from loving us.  What about our love for others?
  • The edification of His love.  When Christ walked upon the earth, he was always encouraging people.  His teaching helped people to grow and understand the truth.  When we love others, we want to build them up and not tear them down.
  • The forgiveness of His love.  Christ said of those who were mocking him: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Christ forgave even in His darkest hour.  Forgiveness is a great act of love.

Love is more than a feeling, It is a choice.  We can live a life of love.  Selfishness doesn’t have to rule in our relationships.  We can look up to the God of love and seek to apply His love to others.

“Lord, thank you for your great love towards me.  Thank you for your Son who died on the cross for my sins.  Thank you for adopting me into your family.  Lord, I still struggle with selfishness in my life.  Help me, to apply your love to those you bring into my life.  Amen.”

Note: This is the third article in the “Moving Beyond” series.

Why Do I Complain So Much?

Have you ever studied the Word of God; and God brought great conviction upon your heart?  Yesterday, while I was studying Jeremiah, God convicted me of something that I hadn’t thought about in a while.

The Book of Jeremiah is full of contrasts, disappointments, tears, God’s judgment, God’s love and future prophecy.  In Jeremiah 20, Jeremiah experiences forty lashes from a whip.  He also is tortured throughout the night in a public setting.  He is ridiculed and hated because of his proclamation of God’s Word.

While studying this portion of scripture,  I became convicted about my life.  “Have I ever suffered like Jeremiah?”  “Why do I complain so much?”    I was deeply convicted that I often fall into the trap of a complaining spirit.  I complain about circumstances, demands upon my time, people, the weather and many other matters.  How can I enjoy God’s presence and complain at the same time?

God knows that  many of us struggle with a complaining heart.  He tells us “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”  (Philippians 2:14,15) My complaining spirit not only affects my relationship with God, but also with others.  How can I minister to others about God’s love, wisdom, and faithfulness, when inside my heart, I have a complaining spirit?

Paul understood the antidote to a complaining spirit when he wrote these words while in prison. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.   I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11,12) Paul didn’t complain because he knew that God had given unto him all that he needed for his present happiness.  Paul had the presence of God!

When I look at what others have suffered or are suffering, why should I complain?  My complaining spirit is a sign of selfishness.  It is also a sign that I am not content in all that I have in Jesus Christ.

“Dear Lord, thank you for convicting me of my complaining spirit.  In your Word, I see so many who followed you without complaining.  They suffered greatly for you and your cause.  Thank you for their testimony that shows me that I can live my life without complaining.  Help me, to see your presence in every circumstance, every task, and every social encounter.  Thank you for your loving-kindness in convicting me of this sin.  Amen”