One of the most destructive elements in any relationship is selfishness. Warren Wiersbe writes that one of the Enemy’s favorite weapons is selfishness; If he can get us thinking about ourselves - what we want, what we desire, what’s best for us - then he’ll win before we even recognize he’s at work!
In Nehemiah 5, the Israelites find themselves under attack again; but this time not from the outside, but from within their own walls! Selfishness and greed was decimating their community. And the truth is, selfishness can threaten our relationships too, in our marriages, families, workplaces, teams and even our church. It is imperative that we battle and beat it! When people start putting themselves, their desires, their wants, their needs above others, and the Lord, things get messy fast!
How would you define selfishness? A dictionary definition is: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure. The Bible has a lot to teach us about selfishness.
A heart can lean one of two ways… toward ourselves and our desires, or toward God and His desires. Where do you think we tend naturally? Selfishness or Godliness? Since we tend naturally toward selfishness, we must pray intentionally for Godliness.
The Psalmist knew how important it was to pray against selfishness:
36 Turn my heart toward your statutes
and not toward selfish gain. Psalm 119:36
Our hearts naturally tend toward selfish gain, which causes all kinds of problems in our lives. This is why the wise author of Proverbs wrote:
An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends
and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. Proverbs 18:1
Selfish people are “unfriendly” because they are concerned only about themselves. And because of that, they create conflict. If we’re brutally honest, we’ve all expressed selfish tendencies at times. Do you know how to defeat selfishness in your life? Develop the character of Christ. And what was one of Jesus’ most defining character traits? Humility. Humility is the silver bullet for taking care of our selfishness dilemma.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3
When you value others above yourself, you’re putting them in the seat of honor, not yourself, and that is hard for most people. People say, “That’s my seat! I’ve got to take care of me and me first.” In culture, it’s about me and my… my desires, my wants, my needs. But that’s the opposite of what Jesus taught and modeled. For Jesus, it wasn’t about me and my.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
This is the opposite of selfishness. It is humility at it’s very best! Thank God for it!
During the reconstruction of the wall around Jerusalem, after battling enemies from without, Nehemiah had to do battle with the enemy within, selfishness. It is a battle that we all will face in our own lives. So how can we battle and beat selfishness in our own lives and in the lives of those we lead? To find out, click here to listen to: Resolute - Part 4 - Battle Selfishness.