Selfishness

When the Lord chooses to keep putting before me a matter again and again in different ways in a short period of time, it usually takes me several knocks up side the head but then I realize I best pay attention.  Consider these “random” events of the past few days.  After a while, even I could connect the dots.  The picture they drew looks too much like the one to the left.

  • In studying the parable on the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25 recently, the goats are shown their cursedness by the King simply pointing out their sins of omission – they did not feed the hungry, visit the sick, etc.  I read from Keddie the Lord is showing them that “They lived for themselves and God was not in all their thoughts.”  Hell is giving people who want nothing to do with Jesus an eternity of what they want.
  • In an informal moment I was asked if I knew a Bible verse on selfishness.  The first one that came to mind was “He who has found his life shall lose it, but he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).  A close second was “Do nothing from selfishness of empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves… Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3,5).  Why did pointing those verses out feel like my chest was being thumped?
  • Dealing with men with addictions in our ministry here, I see that the only “disease” aspect of it is their own selfishness.  Love of self-pleasure eats away at their soul, trumping love of work, family, church, and God.
  • As I struggled with some discouragements as of late, taking them to the Lord in prayer revealed far more problems with my own heart, attitudes, and self-centered ways than I would ever care to admit in this forum.  You may think I’m admitting it now, but notice I am speaking in general rather than specific terms.  No use being gross.
  • Yet speaking of gross, I had to explain in family worship when reading Malachi 2 what God meant when He said to the priests (you know, those holy men of God) that “I will spread refuse on your faces, the refuse of your feasts.”  My children giggled when I told them that was their own “dung” (KJV, ESV), and kept doing so when I told them my dad used to housebreak our dogs by rubbing their noses in their inside mistakes.  Then I had to remind them that God was not laughing here.  So gross was their self-indulgence at His appointed feasts He used this as the picture.
  • My wife put a little book in front of me titled Selfishness last week.  She insisted that it was not a subtle message directed at me, but since it was a two-by-four from God she didn’t need to be intentional.  She wanted me to read where the author, Lou Priolo, quoted William Kilpatrick in his book Psychological Seductions:
The distinctive quality, the thing that literally sets paranoid [biblical term: fearful] people apart, is hyper self-consciousness.  And the thing they prize most about themselves is autonomy.  Their constant fear is that someone else is interfering with their will or trying to direct their lives.  For this type of person, self-abandonment is the worst fate.  Rather than have that happen, they draw deeper into themselves, cutting the cords of sociability as they go.”

Priolo goes on to say, “We might even say the problem with crazy persons is that they’re crazy about themselves.”‘  I would add that statement indicts more than we might first think.

All these things brought to mind Keller’s description of hell-bound people in The Reason for God.  

In short, hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity…When we build our lives on anything but God, that thing – though a good thing – becomes an enslaving addiction, something we have to have to be happy.  Personal disintegration happens on a broader scale.  In eternity, this disintegration goes on forever.  There is increasing isolation, denial, delusion, and self-absorption.  When you lose all humility you are out of touch with reality.  No one ever asks to leave hell.  The very idea of heaven seems to them a sham.

Keller goes on to quote C.S. Lewis:

There are only two kinds of people – those who say “Thy will be done” to God or those to whom God in the end says, “Thy will be done.”

Selfishness is hellish and hell boundedness.  It is the sinking of the soul in an ocean of self-regard, like Peter thinking that walking on water was all about him.  Facing your own selfishness leaves you crying out like Peter,  “Save me, Lord!”

Indeed, save me from me, Lord.

5 Comments

  1. R. Martin Snyder May 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    Ouch! That isn’t gentle reformation. LOL. That is like ripping a pus infected scabbed band aid off. Thanks Pastor. Time to get the peroxide out.

  2. Barry York May 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Yes, Martin, I suppose not. Then again Jesus told us we cannot be too gentle with ourselves – cut off the hand, pluck out the eye, take up the cross.

    Thanks for the note.

  3. Adam D. May 12, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    As I was reading the post, the picture of Gollum caught my attention. I thought, “Uggh, that is so gross-looking.” I continued reading and when I got to the end, it hit me: the grossness of that picture in my eyes is nothing compared to the grossness of my selfishness in the eyes of God.

  4. Rose May 16, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    You meant Kilpatrick, not Kirkpatrick, right? Interesting how hyper self-consciousness can be cured with anti-psychotics and how thinking you look like Gollum seems really hyper self-conscious.

  5. Barry York May 16, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Rose,

    Yes, thank you, I corrected the misspelling of Kilpatrick’s name above.

    And sorry, but I’ve never seen anti-psychotics “cure” anyone.

    And I agree that thinking you look like Gollum is really a moment of hyper self-consciousness. The key is in the response. The horror of the self-realization should cause one to flee to Christ – dying to self, living for Him.

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