Friday, April 8, 2011

TheoLOLogy - Selfishness

Picture by: A.M
LoL by: booksncats

Selfish - concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Have you heard the saying "what's yours is mine and what's mine is mine"? I've used it in conversation as a joke when I want to use something that belongs to a friend. It's so easy to be self-centered and self-concerned. And it is okay to be concerned about one's self. But selfishness is excessive or exclusive concern about one's self and this is harmful to our relationships with other people and with God.

Paul wrote repeatedly in his letters about the concern that Christians should show other people. One example -
Romans 15 1-3a
We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself

Paul uses Jesus as an example for what our behavior should look like. Jesus wasn't selfish and did not pursue his own desires but instead was obedient to God and served other people unto his death on a cross.

In his own teachings, Jesus focused on caring for one another, particularly those who are most vulnerable in a society (widows and orphans). The first great commandment that Jesus taught was focused on God, but the second focused on loving your neighbor as yourself:

Matthew 22:37-40
He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

We learn from the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) that when Jesus uses the word "neighbor" he is not only talking about the people who live right next door to you or the people you like. "Neighbor" refers to any person you might come across. All people are "neighbors," and so all people are to be loved and cared for under Jesus' second commandment. This commandment is incompatible with selfishness. For when we love other people in the same way and amount that we love ourselves we cannot excessively focus on ourselves without regard for others.