Selfish vs. Selfless

 

Author: Zach van Meter

It’s funny how selfish we really are. I think it is a combination of many things: how we were raised, the culture we live in, whether we were a single child or had a ton of siblings, if the world normally revolved around us because of our “center-of-attention” personality, etc. But ultimately our selfishness, or really our self-centeredness, comes from our humanity. I’m no theologian, but once sin entered the world, our focus was taken off of glorifying God to glorifying ourselves. Thus the concept of selfishness was born.

**Note: At the time Zach originally wrote this blog he was engaged. He is now married.**

I have been engaged to the woman of my dreams for 10 months now and this concept of self-centeredness and me-glorification has been revealed more clearly than I had expected. I’m sure anyone who is married or has been in a serious relationship for quite awhile can attest to this phenomenon. I grew up with three other siblings my age and learned how to share early on. I like being the center of attention but have been humbled many times by the Lord’s gracious hand. I have known my future spouse for 8 years (yeah, I know…it’s about time), and yet I still see selfishness more readily apparent in my heart. When I observe any other problems I have in the relationship and really try and figure out what the root of the issue is, I find that the root of most of them is selfishness. I’m not putting my relationship with my fiancé on display and saying that we have a lot of problems, because we don’t, but when we do, they are foundationally caused by self-centeredness and inward thinking.

Our self-centeredness affects every other relationship we have in our lives. It even affects our interactions with people we don’t know and if we don’t have our hearts in the right place, then our influence and connection with others can be harmful or ineffective. It’s also curious how we tend to be more selfish and impetuous with those that we feel closest to. Spouses, siblings, and families are being torn apart daily because of these tendencies. If we are going to strive for selfless relationships, we should focus on our families first.

The only way we will be able to decrease our selfish tendencies in our life is by pursuing Jesus. He has to be our ultimate focus, and as we focus on His character, it will eventually permeate all areas of our life. Paul was talking about Jesus’s example of humility to the church at Philippi and said:

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

-Philippians 2:1-3

So we should set our own personal agendas down and consider and count the interests of others to be more important than our own; that’s a tough pill to swallow. It is also said that we should not “please ourselves” but rather should “please our neighbor, for his own good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself” (Romans 15:1-3).

This is another tough one, but it’s beneficial in the long run. And Jesus said it himself:

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

-Mark 10:42-45

So let us strive to serve one another in humility and selflessness just as Christ did. It may be hard to humble ourselves and live out relationships with selflessness, but I know it will be worth it in the long haul. Indeed, I think it will be a great foundation for my marriage. As they say “happy wife, happy life.”

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

-1 Peter 4:8

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