Selfishness never wins in life | Faith
by The Press and Standard | June 30, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: June 26, 2019 at 3:48 pm
Hebrews 13:6 (ESV) says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” However, there are many of us who do not follow the advice in this passage of Scripture.
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, “selfishness” is the act of being concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or well-being without regard for others. There are a number of examples of selfish people in the Bible from which we all can learn valuable lessons because selfishness remains among us, still, today. We can be as selfish as we choose to be, but it will never win; it will always come back to haunt us.
One of the most prime examples of selfishness in the Bible is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was jealous of his brother Abel’s sacrifice to God. As a result, Cain sinfully and selfishly murdered his own brother. When God asked Cain of his brother’s whereabouts, he arrogantly lied to God, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9 KJV). God’s being the omnipotent God that He has always been already knew the answer, but He was testing Cain. Thus, God lets Cain know that He is aware that he killed his brother. Cain was the oldest, so he was supposed to be his “brother’s keeper.” Instead of being a guardian for his brother, he killed him out of jealousy. As a result, God punished Cain heavily: “When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth,” (Genesis 4:12 KJV).
Consequently, selfishness never wins. It ultimately destroys.
Another eye-opening illustration of selfishness in the Bible is the selfish attitude of David, which caused him to seek fulfillment of his own pleasures with no regard to the cost in getting them. His selfish pursuit of pleasure caused him to sin with Bathsheba. His selfishness then led to lies and murder (II Samuel 11). God did not allow David’s sin to go unpunished. He sent the prophet Nathan to expose the sin of David and to announce God’s judgment upon him.
Like David, far too many people today are selfishly pursuing pleasure with no regard for either consequences or the impact of their actions upon others (“Examples of Selfishness.”) David caused the death of an innocent man, all because he desired this man’s wife. Again, selfishness never wins; it hurts and causes emotional and physical pain.
God expects us to show concern for each other. Philippians 2:4 (ESV) confirms, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Another confirmation of this expectation of God is expressed in Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV): “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
If you know that you are suffering from the sin of selfishness, pray and ask God to heal you from such before you self-destruct. God is able, and He looks at man’s heart. William Ewart Gladstone, four-time prime minister of the United Kingdom asserted, “Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”
“Gladstone was perhaps the greatest British politician of the 19th century. To him above all others goes the credit for creating a political system and state structure that aimed to function beyond the reach of vested interests, particularly those of the upper classes in British society,” (www.britannica.com/biography/William-Ewart-Gladstone).
Although the following illustration, Aesop’s fable, “The Travelers and the Purse,” is a simple one about the consequences of selfishness, it has a profound message. It is a perfect example to teach young minds about the results of a selfish attitude. Please ponder it and share.
“Two young men were traveling along in company when one of them picked up a good-looking purse with valuables.
“‘Oh, what a lucky day for me!’ he said. ‘I have found the purse filled with gems and gold.’
“‘Do not say ‘I’ have found a purse,’ said his companion. ‘Rather say, ‘we’ have found a purse and ‘how lucky we are. Travelers ought to share alike the fortunes or misfortunes of the road.’
“‘No, no,’ disagreed the other angrily. ‘I found and picked up the purse, so it is only me who is going to keep it.’
“As the two men were discussing the ownership of the fortune, they heard a shout, ‘Stop, thief! Catch the thief!’ When the men looked behind, they saw a mob of people armed with clubs angrily coming down the road.
“The man with the purse fell into a panic. ‘We are in trouble if they find the purse with us,’ he cried.
“‘No, no,’ replied the other, ‘You did not say ‘we’ before when you had to share your fortune, so now stick to your ‘I,’ and say, ‘I am in trouble.’ Don’t try to share your misfortune now, when you were not ready to share your fortune earlier.’
“Moral: We cannot expect anyone to share in our misfortunes unless we are willing to share our good fortune, also.”
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)