The Snare Of Selfishness
THE SNARE OF SELFISHNESS
By Rodney W. Francis
In Exodus 17:1-3, Numbers 11:1-6 and Numbers 20:1-5 we read of the Children of Israel moaning and complaining against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt into the wilderness they currently found themselves in. Even though they had been the recipients of God’s mighty signs, wonders, miracles, provision of food and water, etc., their hearts were not changed and they longed to return back into the land of bondage. They were more selfish and self-seeking than they were committed to the will and purposes of the Lord. God had them on a journey, but they were very reluctant followers. The result was they never entered the Promised Land ~ their selfishness had blinded them to the reasons why God was leading them the way He did. He was seeking to get them emptied of themselves in order that they would be filled with the presence, knowledge and power of God. But they did not co-operate.
WHO COMES FIRST IN OUR LIFE ~ JESUS OR SELF?
Being selfish is when we put our own will and desires ahead of God and others. We can never know the will, true blessings and purposes of God for our lives when we are living that way. That is why we have to take up the cross and be a true follower of Jesus Christ. We cannot be a true follower by trying to live to please ourselves. Jesus taught us: “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38). “When He (Jesus) had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life (selfishness) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34-38).
The evidence of Jesus being first in our life is that we take up our cross and follow Him. His ways are very different to our ways.
The reason why we need to take up our cross is so that selfishness can be defeated within us. Bible Christianity is not a matter of “What’s in it for me?” but how can I live to please the Lord Himself out of a love relationship. Love gives. True loves puts Jesus Christ ~ and then others ~ ahead of our own desires. When Jesus was getting near to being nailed to the Cross, He found He had to make a recommitment of Himself to the Father. He prayed: “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
The natural part of Him did not want to carry out the very purpose of God of why He was sent to this world ~ to pay the price of mankind’s sin by being the Perfect Sacrifice for us through the shedding of His precious blood. Praise God that He yielded to God’s will at that time. Jesus was tested at that point in his life, but yielded to the will of His Father. We will be tested as well, and it is important that we make the decision to let the will of the Lord be done in us.
SELFISH AMBITIONS ROB US OF TRUE LIFE
Selfishness does not enable us to fulfil the call and purpose of God for our lives. It robs us of all that Jesus has provided for us. Listen to what the Scripture says: “Therefore if there is any consolation (“encouragement”) in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfil my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross . . .” (Philippians 2:1-8).
“For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults . . .” (2 Corinthians 12:20).
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication (“sexual immorality”), uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
THE SELFISH WAY IS NOT GOD’S WAY
These verses of Scripture give us clear warning that the selfish way is not God’s way, and we need to heed what the Bible is saying and forsake any selfish way that we are holding on to. Jesus came to show us a better way than we in our natural abilities can attain to. When we choose to do things our way, then we are demonstrating an attitude that we know better than God. At times in the Bible we read of people: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; Judges 21:25). That is a selfish way of living. It is a demonstration that says “I do not need God; I know better than Him; I can do it myself and my way” attitude. That attitude takes us to a path of destruction. The cost is enormous when we reject God’s way in favour of our own way.
- If we are living this way, then what can we do to change things?
- We have to yield everything to Jesus, take up the cross of self-denial, and live in obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ Who is “The way, the truth, and the life” ~ and the only way to God the Father (John 14:6).
- “I beseech (“urge”) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect (“complete”) will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
We need to be very clear in our understanding that Jesus Christ is the only way to God: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). This Scripture quote is referring to Jesus Christ the only Saviour from sin and self! Make very sure you know Him personally enough to yield everything of yourself over to Him. He makes all the difference in our lives when He is Lord of our lives. He wants us to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” in reality.
Life is very different when we are committed to living and doing things God’s way rather than our own way. It is a tremendous blessing to be used by God to bring release, blessings and answers to others and see them changed in a positive way to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. We cannot effectively be used by God if we are living for our own selfish ways. May we all take the time to check to see that we are committed to Jesus according to the teachings of the Bible, and not living with our own interpretations that seek to justify us and any selfish way. The question we need to ask our self is:
- How committed am I to Jesus Christ and His way?
- Is that the motivation of my life?
- What more can I do in order to be more used of God in this needy hour of time?
Remember we have come to His Kingdom “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Let us all be yielded to His plans and purposes for us, so we can fulfil our destiny more than we ever thought was possible. God bless you abundantly!