This week I am continuing to work my way through Jerry Bridges book Respectable Sins. I hope it is helping to bring to light those sins that are common and acceptable amongst Evangelical Christians – sins we commit on a regular basis with no thought that they are sin – so that you will then work on ridding them from your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. The sin we will explore this week is selfishness. Let me start with a definition.
Selfishness defined is as follows:
A person, action, or motive lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
In order to understand how we are often concerned with our own personal profit or pleasure I will explore four areas where selfishness manifestations itself, which are:
- Our interests
- Our time
- Our money
- Our consideration of others
Let’s start today by looking at the first way selfishness generally manifests itself.
In Philippians 2:4 Paul tells us to look out for the interests of others. Here he desires we be concerned with other’s interests. The problem is that we are often concerned with our own interests more than the interests of others. In other words, we consider our affairs to matter more than someone else’s.
How does this work itself out in everyday life?
One way we can know if we are concerned about our own interest is by observing our conversations. If we dominate the conversation, telling of our grandchildren’s latest feat, our latest work project, our kids sports achievements, etc, without caring about the interests of others, then we are being selfish in our interests.
Another way this works itself out is by showing no genuine interest in what others are telling us. Instead, we are bidding our time until we can speak, thinking more about what we are going to say than what the other person is currently telling us. When we do this, we show that we really don’t care about the other person’s interests, we just want someone to listen to what we have to say, which means we are being selfish in our interests.
How do we have a conversation with someone in an unselfish manner?
In order to have a conversation with someone in an unselfish manner, we need to be careful not to dominate the conversation with our interests, as well as we need to be genuinely interested in what the other person is telling us.
How do we correct our behavior?
Before you get to thinking I am telling you that you must just sit there and let the other person speak, let me say, “It is okay to talk about your interests.” If you did not, then you would be a boring person, who no one really knew. Our interests should be expressed, but our interests should not be the dominating factor in our conversations. We should not be talking at the person, but rather we should be talking with them.
The Reason this is a Sin
Selfishness with our interests is a sin because we show ourselves to be “Lovers of Self”, which Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is a sin. More pointedly, as Jerry Bridges says,
“A self-centered persons cares little for the interests, needs, or desires of others.”
So then, those who are “Lovers of Self” are not operating from a Christian perspective. As Christians, we are called to care for the needs of others by not loving ourselves, but rather we are to be willing to lay down our lives for others, which is what Christ did for us (Phil. 2:5-11).
In my next post in this series, I will look at how we are selfish with our time. Until then, use the questions below to help you reflect on this post.
Questions for Reflection
- How do we show that we do not care about others interests and consider ourselves to be more important than others?
- How might we have a conversation with someone without being selfish?
- Are there other verses besides Philippians 2:5-11 that you might point someone to in order to help them understand what Christ has done for them by being unselfish?
 Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, 103.