Mark Affleck

Nobody Wants to Talk About SELFISHNESS

April 15, 2024
Spiritual Growth

My blog last week on UNMET EXPECTATIONS hit a nerve inside the Love God Fear Nothing tribe around the world. I received numerous comments from people who had someone in their life act in a way that fell short of the expectations they had for that person.

Those comments got me thinking about WHY we are let down by others who fail to meet our expectations. It didn’t take long before a common thread emerged: SELFISHNESS. Or at least we PERCEIVE the person who fails to meet our expectations was acting selfishly. It is no doubt true to one degree or another that the person WAS acting selfishly. But it’s also possible that the offended may be the one being selfish for wanting this or expecting that when it was unreasonable to do so.

This line of thinking convinced me to step away from focusing on our own feelings of being let down by others—because it’s a CERTAINTY that will happen. What follows in this blog instead are my thoughts on how me, you, and all believers need to find the closest mirror and stare down our OWN selfishness.

It seems like the ONLY time the word selfishness comes up is when there is an obvious and outward act of selfish behavior. You know…blatant, outward acts of greed and disregard for others. It’s easy to recognize these instances because they scream for attention. I call this EGREGIOUS SELFISHNESS, the kind that immediately prompts a negative response from those watching.

HOWEVER…there’s another, equally destructive form of selfishness that hides in the shadows of the daily life of a believer. It’s what I call SILENT SELFISHNESS—thinking of ourselves before others and hiding OUR selfishness. That is the springboard for this message that has three goals: 1) Address the nuances of selfishness and how they impact believers committed to living a Christ-like life; 2) Challenge us to confront our own selfish tendencies; and 3) Offer insights into how gratitude, humility, and a focus on godly attributes can lead to selflessness and service to others.

At its core, this SILENT SELFISHNESS is about control, our innate desire to be the boss of our lives. It manifests in the choices we make, often drawing us away from God and creating a barrier between us and His love, grace, discernment, and hope.

Gratitude emerges as a powerful antidote to this SILENT SELFISHNESS, coupling humility and joy to combat its insidious effects. When we are thankful, we acknowledge our dependence on God, relinquishing the illusion of control that selfish desires crave.

The journey toward selflessness begins with a recognition of this truth:
Our selfish ambitions often lead us astray, distancing us from the path God has set before us. That’s a call to surrender our egos and align our will with his, understanding that his ways surpass our own. It’s placing the needs of OTHERS before our own.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

In the midst of our self-centered tendencies, the Lord patiently waits with his offer of peace…even in the midst of our struggles. This peace offering that can be claimed with our surrender to Christ, becomes the foundation on which selflessness can flourish.

It’s a peace that paints a stark contrast between a God-centric and self-centric life. The righteous path, pleasing to God, calls us to interrupt anger, forgive, and express Christ-like kindness. The coin’s flip side turns our focus on worldly desires and generates selfishness that leads to darkness and destruction.

This selfishness traps us on a ME trip and precludes any hope of developing a WE mindset.

There are very real and dangerous consequences when we indulge in the cult of selfishness that pervades our modern world today. The relentless pursuit of self-gratification, fueled by the technological revolution and the bohemian age of excess, threatens to erode our faith and distance us from God’s plan for our lives.

It’s a radical but necessary shift from a self-centered mindset to one that seeks to bless and serve others. This course correction requires a conscious effort to resist the allure of selfish pleasures in favor of focusing on God’s call to love, goodness, and service.

But it’s more than knowing about these traits; it’s about cultivating habits that embody them and prompt them into action. Godliness is not a checklist but a daily surrender to God’s will, allowing His Spirit to work through us in all aspects of life.

Our degree of selfishness, then, is inextricably linked and directly correlative to our surrender to God’s authority. The more we yield to His ways, the deeper our assimilation of Christ-like qualities becomes and the more rigid our armor is to resist the temptation to be selfish. It’s a call to live out our faith in service to others and turn our selfish desires into a catalytic force for good, embracing the transformative power of selflessness in our lives and in the world around us.

“No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

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