Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

Christianity and Relationships (Pt. 2)

Selfishness can be one of those horrible flaws that is obvious to others but is not known to the person who is selfish. Selfishness is defined as excessive concern for self or exclusive concern for self without regard for others.  It is a total contrast to selfless.  Selfless is defined as having no concern for self. Selfishness is a total preoccupation with "me." It could be called "me-itus."

Selfishness is a destructive self-focus. It says, "Other people exist for my well-being. I associate with no one who does not serve my advantage. The issue to the selfish person is not, "Is what's happening fair to them?" To the selfish person, the issue is "How do they as people or how do their actions serve to my advantage?" At the minimum, in every situation, selfishness says, "I matter the most. In nothing do I matter less than you matter."  At the maximum, selfishness says, "You exist for my benefit! I cannot see you for seeing me! There is nothing unjust about me always having my way, about everyone else always yielding to me, or about everything working to my benefit. I cannot believe you do not see that is as it should be!"

People who are selfish use people. They look at others as existing to benefit them. "Your money is my money! Your happiness exists to make me happy! Your opportunities exist to increase my opportunities. Any time things do not work out so that your welfare does not increase my welfare, something is horribly wrong!"

Nowhere is the destructiveness of selfishness more evident than in family relationships. At its worse, selfishness abuses the people the selfish person should love. He or she is so in love with self he or she cannot care about anyone else. Children are not seen as helpless extensions of "us," but as rivals to "me." Everything given to a spouse or to a child is something that deprives "me." Thus, spouse and children in my family exist to be "my servants," to make "me" happy, to serve "my" purposes. As long as my family makes me happy, every thing is as it should be.

  1. Scripture focuses on this destructive view of self in a number of ways.
    1. Proverbs urges avoidance of the selfish man with these words in Proverbs 23:6, 7: Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
      1. His hospitality seemed genuine.
      2. However, do not think he has your best interests at heart because he is gracious to you.
      3. You cannot tell what is going on in his mind by the way he treats you!
      4. Outwardly he urges you to enjoy his hospitality, but inwardly he does not have your best interest on his heart.
    2. Paul made a number of statements about people who focus their center on themselves. Among those admonitions are these two.
      1. To Timothy, Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:1-5: But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
        1. Preacher, hard times are coming.
        2. Paul began the list of the characteristics of the people who would cause the hard times with "lovers of self."
        3. In this list of ungodly characteristics, he included arrogance, unloving, irreconcilable, conceited, lovers of pleasure, who have an outer religiosity rather than a devotion to God.
        4. In much of that list of ungodly traits that will produce the hard times are people who obviously are sold on themselves.
      2. As Paul sought to end contention and division among Christians, he wrote to the Christians in Philippi in Philippians 2:3, 4 : Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
        1. One step to ending contention and division in the congregation was taken by accepting individual responsibility to stop being selfish.
        2. The issue was not, "What do I want?" but, "What is in everyone's best interest?"
        3. Look at your congregational members as being more important than you are.
        4. Do not be devoted to "my" interests but to "our" interests.
    3. James wrote in James 3:14 and then 16: But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. ... For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.
      1. Selfish attitudes do not accomplish God's purposes in Jesus Christ.
      2. The companion of selfish ambition is bitter jealousy.
      3. The two combine to produce arrogance, deceit, disorder, and every evil thing.
      4. Selfishness is the root of self-justification.
      5. It is a source of disorder and every evil thing.
    4. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:10, 12: ... especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
      Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, ...  But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;

      1. When the self-willed become entrenched in "us," they are not even fearful to defy God's divine messengers.
      2. Self-devotion makes us act like animals instead of people.
      3. We become threats to others, exploiting them, as we seek to indulge ourselves.

  2. I suggested to you in our first consideration of Christianity and Relationships that the first people who should be blessed by our faith in God is our families.
    1. Faith in the God who sent us Jesus Christ:
      1. Should make men the best men they are capable of being.
      2. Should make women the best women they are capable of being.
      3. The first people who should be blessed by those men and women are their spouses.
      4. The second people who should be blessed by those men and women are the children they bring into this world.
      5. If faith in God makes us the best people we can be, the first to be benefited from our faith in God should be our physical families.
    2. If people should be able to look anywhere and see the blessings and benefits of marriage and homes, it should be among Christians.
      1. It saddens me to know that marital failure is as high in the church as it is in society.
      2. It saddens me to know you have to go no further than the church to find abused wives who hide their abuse, abused husbands who are ashamed that a woman abuses them, and neglected children who are starved for love and acceptance.
      3. It saddens me to encounter Christians who think teaching proper treatment of spouses or children has no place in the church.
      4. It saddens me to know that there are people who have little interest in God because they know of abuse situations in Christian homes.
    3. "Well, what do you make of the undesirable conditions in too many Christian marriages?"
      1. We know too little about how to be good husbands.
      2. We know too little about how to be good wives.
      3. We know too little about how to be good parents.
      4. We know too little about selecting a spouse.
      5. Our concepts about being good spouses and good parents are seriously flawed.
      6. Too many in the church assume people just intuitively known how to be good spouses, or how to be good parents, or how to how truly stable homes.

  3. The situation is quickly becoming more complex, more demanding.
    1. Christians are too given to assigning blame instead of providing sound guidance.
      1. If I asked you, "What is wrong?" would you have answers you readily gave?
        1. Probably!
        2. It would be rare to find someone who does not have an opinion on how to fix generically the problem in society in general.
      2. But how much insight and guidance do you have if a child of yours, or a grandchild of yours comes to you and asks for your help about a specific marriage problem?
        1. How quickly do you have no insights?
        2. How fearful are you to refer them?
        3. How often will you, when you dare, approach an elder or a preacher, and begin with, "First, there is something you need to know ... "
        4. How quickly do you discover your advice does not fit the situation?
    2. Let me provide you with just one illustration: how often does friendship enter the selection of a spouse?
      1. In our society we have specific concepts of good looks.
        1. It often involves hair, shape, weight, mannerisms, clothes, and suggestiveness.
        2. The whole package is designed to suggest who is physically desirable and who is not.
        3. So we will dye, implant, diet, go in debt, acquire the latest fades, and learn how to act to acquire the look and to say what we want to say with nonverbal language.
        4. Examine a picture of your parents when they married early in life, and look at them right now.
        5. Looks pass with age!
      2. So we marry for a variety of reasons: looks, legalized sex, passion, stirred up hormones, security, status, escape, dreams, vivid imaginations, expectations.
        1. In almost 60 years of marriage counseling and ceremonies, I have never talked to a couple who were not sure their marriage would be successful because they loved each other.
        2. Yet, several ended in divorce with them hating each other more than they said they loved each other.
      3. Most of a marriage is not:
        1. Spent in looking good.
        2. Or sexual activity.
        3. Or passionate feelings.
        4. Or some form of escape from reality.
      4. By far most of marriage is spent in ordinary friendship.
        1. If people who marry are not friends before they marry, they face an extremely difficult time together.
        2. Almost immediately there are money issues, spending issues, decisions to be made, choices to be made, and hardships to be faced.
        3. All this can be successfully coped with if two adults face them together as friends.
        4. However, if they are not friends, everything becomes a crises.
        5. "How can I know how deep our friendship is?"
          1. Do each of you unselfishly consider the other?
          2. Would you never consider selfishly taking advantage of the other?
Nothing communicates love to a man like unselfish respect. Nothing communicates love to a woman like unselfish thoughtfulness. Two unselfish people will face whatever life brings them and make the marriage successful. Selfishness in a marriage will destroy it.

Ephesians 5:22-33--Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

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