From 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love is not self-seeking.” If it were possible to eliminate selfishness from the world. What would that be like? Political corruption would not exist. We could elect our officials with confidence, knowing that they would govern not in their own self-interest, not in the interest of their political allies, but in the interest of the people. Their motivation would not be personal gain, but everything would stem from a heart of charity. Come to think of it, why would we need a government at all? Of course we recognize that the fallen world needs laws. What is to prevent selfishness from turning into abuse if there are no laws? But if selfishness doesn’t exist, what laws are necessary? Fear that is derived from the malfeasance of man finds no foothold. For example, should you lock your door at night? Only the selfish would want to deny another man of his possessions. What about laws prohibiting drunk driving? Only a selfish man would put the lives of others at risk for the convenience of driving home from the bar. What about getting drunk in the first place?
If you’re 21, it’s perfectly legal to sit in your house alone, and drink beer until there’s two moons in the sky. And while observing such a person would give us cause for concern, I don’t think we would immediately jump to the conclusion that this behavior is a result of selfishness. Our default would be to say something like, “He’s depressed.”
But the selfish person takes the blindfold, covers his own eyes, and then says, “It’s not my fault I can’t see.” Self-deception is an essential constituent of selfishness, because you have to convince yourself that you’re the only thing that matters. Your needs, your desires, your wants supercede everyone else’s. If someone is being selfish, in a family context, it manifests in a very obvious way. Dad says something like, “Who ate the last slice of pizza? Mom still hasn’t eaten yet.” But if you live alone and the bottle of vodka is your roommate and you say, “I’m not harming anyone else.” It might be depressing, but it’s not selfish to get drunk in the privacy or your own home, right?
Ephesians 5 says, “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery.” The drunkard living alone has a desire to get intoxicated. God does not want him to do that. But selfishness, by its very definition, doesn’t care what other people think and by extension doesn’t care what God thinks, so it’s down the hatch.
But the selfless person does care about what God thinks and if God says, “No,” then honoring his commandment takes precedence over our own desires, whether or not the sin is sanctioned by the state.
So whether it’s a surface sin, like being inconsiderate of others, or the type of sin you can commit when you’re all alone, do not neglect this truth: wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. And wherever sin casts its shadow, selfishness lurks in the darkness.
Daniel Namahoe – February 4, 2024