Adjective: Selfish

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I believe God just told me that I was selfish. I mean, I know I have my moments, but is it really necessary to use the actual term selfish?! Isn’t selfish when you think of yourself first? Not really having a care or concern for anyone else? Filling your needs before others? I don’t think that describes me. Or perhaps I am so selfish that I cant see it? Lets ask Webster, shall we? 

According to Webster, selfish means: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others. Ouch. 

Like I’ve said before, its not too often that I hear God speaking to me directly. So when this happens, I do my best to listen. This time it happened about a week ago. I arrived at work extra early and was getting settled to start my day. I decided to say a prayer before I got lost in my day. While I was rambling on and on, I saw a picture in my mind, clear as day… it was a page of the bible and I saw Philippians 2:7. I immediately forgot what I was saying, opened my eyes and grabbed my bible. Opening up to this verse, here is what I read: 

Rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, 
being made in human likeness. 

Jesus gave up his rights, his privileges and his entitlement to become a servant – a slave. He humbly served others without letting pride get in the way. He didn’t use the fact of who he was just to move forward or get special treatment from others. Humble and selfless behavior. 

I think one of the most famous stories of selfishness that I know of in the bible is that of Cain and Abel. They were to make a sacrifice to God. Abel sacrificed a lamb and pleased God. However, Cain brought an offering that was not his greatest. He withheld the good for himself and God was not pleased. The selfishness in his offering lead to rage and jealousy and, finally, the murder of his own brother. 

Or how about David? After all he had accomplished and how far he had come, he still sought pleasure… with Bathsheba. He was so focused on his own fulfillment that he didn’t care about the cost. David’s selfishness created lies and took lives. 

There are so many stories of selfishness. Whether its greed, self-indulgence, egotistical,  mean, self-serving, pleasure-seeking… the stories are there. In fact, I think in some form or another, most of us probably are a little selfish. Maybe we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we don’t even realize it. 

Think of the last time you did something for yourself… (and I’m not just referring to a massage or buying a pair of new shoes)…
When is the last time you did anything for yourself? And when is the last time you did anything for someone else?

Did you cook yourself dinner? What did you do with the leftovers? Did you throw away your leftovers so they wouldn’t clog up your refrigerator? Did you pack them up to give to someone who may be hungry? 

Did you come to a stoplight and find yourself face to face with a person holding a signed that reads “hungry”…? Did you reach for your wallet? Give him or her your packed lunch? Did you avoid eye contact? 

Did you hold the door for someone who may have walked into your office behind you? Or did you just open the door for yourself, never looking back? 

Did you let your friend tell you about her day? Or did you just tell her about yours? 

I have been trying my best to take a solid look at ways that I am selfish and I’ve discovered that, while I may not blatantly put myself before others, there are a lot of little things that add up… things that I had never taken the time to realize. This girl right here is guilty as charged of: making assumptions daily that I believe everyone else should already know (and agree with, of course) even though I haven’t even verbalized them…and then having terrible reactions when things don’t go as planned (as I assumed they would go). Talking more than I listen. Letting insignificant things consume my time and attention, rather than focusing on the bigger picture. And not spending enough time with God. I could keep going, but I’ll stop there… for now.

As I focus on this, my list gets longer every day of things I do that is me putting myself ahead of you. Sometimes, I even feel like I have given myself 110% on a task only to realize that selfishness was still involved and I didn’t even realize it. 

I am slowly discovering how my behavior is affecting others and how I need to make some changes. All I can do is throw my hands up to God and ask him to help me be a better person. 

How long is your list?

Remember … Being polite and having manners is one thing. Going above and beyond to put someone else before yourself because your heart feels it is another. I think its hard not to want the best for our loved ones and ourselves… you work hard and should be rewarded, right? The gifts in life that matter come from God, not from earthly ‘things.’ I do not have a right (or entitlement) to any circumstance, no matter how much I think I deserve it. And neither do you. 

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