In the world but not of it

February 10, 2010

The selfishness test…

Filed under: Uncategorized — In the world but not of it @ 5:00 am

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:3-4

If we were to do a word study on selfish and impress in this passage we would discover two terms that are much more intense than they appear. The word selfish here refers to strife and with it the idea of contention, conflict and rivalry against another. The word impress refers to vainglory, which simply means to lie about yourself in order to make others believe you are something more special than perhaps they think you are.

Sadly enough we have all fallen into this trap. In the pursuit of getting our own way we don’t realize that often there are casualties as a result. Our selfishness often results in hurting others, damaging a reputation, infringing on a friendship, and separating us from blessings that were waiting in the wings.

The order of the words here is profound in itself. First we are told not to cause strife then not to lie about ourselves. Selfishness always results in self-promotion.

We desperately want others to see us as better than we are.  No one likes to be told what his or her faults or weaknesses are. We tell others to be honest with us but we don’t mean “completely” honest…

The selfishness (trying to impress others) test:

Only you can honestly answer these questions so don’t lie to yourself…

  • When someone shares an experience they have had do you typically respond with one you’ve had that is similar or just different?
  • When you are having a conversation with someone, are you thinking about your response while they are talking rather than listening to them?
  • Do you dress, eat, walk or do something a certain way just in case someone is watching you?
  • Do you get equally as excited with others when they are blessed in ways that you are not or receive answers to prayer that perhaps have not come for you just yet?

There are several other questions like these we can ask of ourselves and it appears we would answer yes to most.

In the words of the 19th century theologian Richard Whately “A man is called selfish, not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s”


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