A Cure for Selfishness

Dr. Dianne Coflin
Co-Pastor, River of Life Church

We live in such tumultuous times. Everywhere you look, people are obsessed with themselves! Obsessed with their appearance, their status, their feelings, they are offended so easily, obsessed with getting their own way, getting ahead regardless of who it hurts! It has become a “What about me?” society.

Here is the question: If everyone seems obsessed with taking care of themselves only, then why are people so unhappy and depressed? People are discovering that meeting all their selfish needs is not changing their overall well-being.

The Psalmist asked himself in Psalms 42, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me?”

He was down and depressed because he was overly concerned about himself! Selfishness is being concerned, excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others. The Psalmist realized he was so overly concerned about himself that he had become worried and anxious. He paused long enough to ask what the problem was.

I wonder how key this would be to help someone who is cast down, to stop and ask, “Why do I feel this way?”

In the Psalmist’s case, because he asked the question, he realized his hope had not been in the Lord. He challenged himself to say “Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the help of my (sad) countenance, and my God.”

He shifted his selfish focus to God! He began to see that if he quit being so self-focused that the very things that he was overly concerned about trying to accomplish in his own life through his own effort God was waiting to help him with. In becoming God-focused, the Psalmist begins to see his life from a different perspective.

In Luke 21:34 (AMP.), Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining (to the business of) this life.”

Jesus warned us about being so selfish (self-absorbed) that one’s heart would be overburdened with the cares of this life and would not be aware of his presence missing out on the operations of his kingdom!

His solution was stated in Luke 9:23. “And he said to all, if any person will to come after me, let him deny himself (disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself) and take up his cross daily and follow me (cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also).”

This tells me that denying ourselves, our “What about me?” attitude and forsaking selfishness is a choice to make daily. God is not going to make that choice for us!

Jesus goes on to say in verse 24, “For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he will preserve and save it (from the penalty of eternal death).

Jesus focused on serving others his entire life. I wonder what our society would look like if our sole purpose were to serve each other in any way we could?

When we do things the way God leads showing us how we can be a blessing to others, those selfish needs we thought we were so important will diminish, and God will take care of us.

Now I am not suggesting that we do not take care of ourselves and only try to meet everyone We live in such tumultuous times. Everywhere you look, people are obsessed with themselves! Obsessed with their appearance, their status, their feelings, they are offended so easily, obsessed with getting their own way, getting ahead regardless of who it hurts! It has become a “What about me?” society.

Here is the question: If everyone seems obsessed with taking care of themselves only, then why are people so unhappy and depressed? People are discovering that meeting all their selfish needs is not changing their overall well-being.

The Psalmist asked himself in Psalms 42, “Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me?”

He was down and depressed because he was overly concerned about himself! Selfishness is being concerned, excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others. The Psalmist realized he was so overly concerned about himself that he had become worried and anxious. He paused long enough to ask what the problem was.

I wonder how key this would be to help someone who is cast down, to stop and ask, “Why do I feel this way?”

In the Psalmist’s case, because he asked the question, he realized his hope had not been in the Lord. He challenged himself to say “Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the help of my (sad) countenance, and my God.”

He shifted his selfish focus to God! He began to see that if he quit being so self-focused that the very things that he was overly concerned about trying to accomplish in his own life through his own effort God was waiting to help him with. In becoming God-focused, the Psalmist begins to see his life from a different perspective.

In Luke 21:34 (AMP.), Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining (to the business of) this life.”
Jesus warned us about being so selfish (self-absorbed) that one’s heart would be overburdened with the cares of this life and would not be aware of his presence missing out on the operations of his kingdom!

His solution was stated in Luke 9:23. “And he said to all, if any person will to come after me, let him deny himself (disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself) and take up his cross daily and follow me (cleave steadfastly to me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also).”

This tells me that denying ourselves, our “What about me?”attitude and forsaking selfishness is a choice to make daily. God is not going to make that choice for us!

Jesus goes on to say in verse 24, “For whoever would preserve his life and save it will lose and destroy it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he will preserve and save it (from the penalty of eternal death).

Jesus focused on serving others his entire life. I wonder what our society would look like if our sole purpose were to serve each other in any way we could?

When we do things the way God leads showing us how we can be a blessing to others, those selfish needs we thought we were so important will diminish, and God will take care of us.

Now I am not suggesting that we do not take care of ourselves and only try to meet everyone else’s needs, that would be impossible, but through a personal relationship with the Lord we can be led by His desires and move forward in His strength and His way of doing things for our own personal lives.

What a warning and yet a great challenge to remind ourselves we live not by our might or power but by his spirit! Food for thought!

Dr. Dianne Coflin,
Co-Pastor, River of Life Church
Our services begin Sunday at 10:30, and Wednesday nights at 7:00. We would love to have you!!!
410 E. Chapman Rd.
Lutz, FL.33549 • (813) 949-9931
www.roltampa.org

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