In writing these posts (the published, unpublished, and never-to-be published), I have noticed that so, so many of our sinful actions, thoughts, and words boil down to one point: self. So many of the sins we commit are derived by a self-centered focus.
Why is that?
We are born with a sinful nature; it is naturally in us to do anything to please ourselves, to satisfy the flesh. We’re not perfect and never will be. Yet, though we are born with this sinful nature, there are ways to deal with it. It doesn’t take a genius to know not to play with a prowling lion. Even the most simple-minded people (should) know as much. Therefore, we as humans, in all of our simplicity, should know not to heed the devil’s temptations. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” We should be grounded in the truth, to withstand the fiery darts Satan throws at us. If we are not grounded in God’s word, we cannot stand against any temptation that comes our way.
What does temptation have to do with me being selfish?
Since we are naturally born selfish, we have two options. We can either succumb to it, to give in and indulge in whatever we wish to do to appease ourselves; or, we can turn it around, surrender our sins to the Lord, and oppose ourselves. If we choose to give in, this will only open the door to whatever Satan wishes to throw our way, and there is no escape. If you have surrendered to yourself, there is no way out. But, if we surrender ourselves to Him, then He promises a way out when we are tempted. He is our answer. Aside from Him, we are, and can do, nothing.
But Satan will want us to think we are something. He will want us to feel the need to prove ourselves, or to make a point about ourselves, to make us feel good. This is where self and pride collide. He makes us feel proud about what we accomplish, causing us to forget in Whose strength we accomplished it. So Satan tempts us to turn to ourselves, to rely on our own strength, and to feel proud when we succeed. Temptation has everything to do with selfishness, when you think about it.
What do we do about this selfishness?
What is the opposite of selfishness? Love for others. Think about it: selfishness is loving ourselves, doing what is best for us, what we feel like doing, what would most benefit us. If we loved others more than ourselves, we would put their needs and wants above our own, therefore defying our selfishness. In order to diminish our self-centered attitude, we need to develop an attitude that focuses on others.
How do we develop this love for others? We have to have a sincere desire to put others above ourselves, to want what’s best for them before us. If it’s not sincere, everything you do to “put others first” will be irrelevant. To have a sincere love for others, we have to have a sincere love for Christ. This is something that nobody else can do for you. I can tell you a hundred times a day to love Christ, but that won’t make you do it. It has to come from your heart.
What if we don’t feel like loving others? If you wait until you feel sincere, we may never love others. Sometimes, we have to put the actions first, and let a love grow from the repeated actions.
If you abolish the self-centered feeling in your heart, all other prideful or selfish words, thoughts, or actions will cease. What comes from your mouth comes from your heart. (“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them” Matt. 15: 18) A sincere, honest love for Christ will overflow into a love for others. This is also obeying Christ’s commands: “If you love me, you will obey what my commands,” John 14:15. And 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 everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
To sum it all up, there is nothing we can do on our own. You can’t battle your own selfishness without Christ’s help. You can do nothing in your own strength. But we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13), and with God, nothing is impossible. (Mark 10:27)