In the midst of the negative news that abounds and the disintegration of relationships around us I began to wonder if we, as Christians, are as guided by the god of selfishness as the pagans. The pagans have no need to be ashamed of this possible truth but as Christians should we not be burying ourselves in sack cloth and ashes? 1 Corinthians 13:13 “and the greatest of these is love.” Given this truth would the greatest sin be selfishness?
love-noun 1. A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
Selfishness-adjective 1. Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
Is there a sin that does not stem from selfishness; orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension, jealousy, greed, gossip, theft, murder, anger, lust? As a list these sins can seem very far removed from us. Put this list into our perspective. What about divorce because we cannot get over anger at our spouse. Our jealousy we carry because others can afford a bigger house, better car, expensive vacations. The lust we don’t control that pushes us into an affair. Gossip that destroys a friendship. Greed, that we justify with need, that causes us to steal money from the vending account or petty cash. The continual drunkenness on college campuses causes death due to alcohol poisoning. The debauchery that leads to embarrassing pictures posted on Facebook. Murder of an ex-girlfriend or family members because they didn’t do what we wanted.
How often have we sacrificed others on the altar of our selfishness? When have we chosen to show profound tenderness and passionate affection to another person IN FRONT OF our primary concern for our own benefit? I believe that God has placed in all of us the ability and desire to behave in love but selfishness is strong and difficult to battle, but it can be done.
Changing poor behavior (sinning less consciously) follows a process similar to the 12 step recovery program for addictions. Dr. Bob, a co-founder of AA characterized the 12 step recovery as "Trust God, clean house, help others." To begin to change selfish behavior (or any negative habits or behaviors) follow the same basic steps; recognize and admit your selfishness, pray and ask God to help you to change, examine past errors, make amends for these errors, begin living with a new code of behavior.
Recognizing bad behavior at the outset allows for you to implement change. The more vigilant you are towards identifying negative behavior the quicker you are to change the behavior and the easier it will be to overcome and reduce the occurrences of bad behavior.
Selfishness is rampant and seeing it in others often increases our own selfish behavior. Be an agent for change. Be the first to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to forget, to step aside for someone else or to be last . Be the first to love.