A Cure for a Common Sin

Guarding Your Heart Against Selfishness
Text: Romans 12:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

A man and his wife sat across from us not long ago recounting some poor choices the husband had made just a few weeks earlier. His wife was next to him with her head hanging down, tears starting to stream down her cheeks. He paused the conversation for only a few seconds, and then said in a very “matter-of-fact” tone, “I am such a selfish man! I have brought all this pain on my family.”

I was supposed to listen and then give some pastoral counsel. After all, that was the reason why they asked to meet with Carol and me. But I was having difficulty responding, since the Spirit was doing something in my own heart. I had not done the things this man had done; yet I found myself saying, “His problem is my problem. I’m just another version of a selfish human being!”


Selfishness is part of our sinful human nature. It is the “default sin” that we resort to almost every single day. And oh how devastating our selfish choices can be! The word itself refers to an obsessive focus on what we want over against the needs that others around us might have. And when we are selfish, very seldom does any good come from our choices. Selfishness leads to a loss of faith (cf. PS 78:16-21). It brings conflict to our most important relationships (cf. JS 3:16). And perhaps worst of all, selfishness renders our prayer life utterly powerless (JS 4:3).

So what can we do? You probably won’t be surprised after reading my most recent posts that the answer begins in the heart—in the very core of our existence. Take a look at our two anchor texts. Read them again if you have not yet done so. And as you do, listen to the voice of God. He wants you to know:


Ok, but how does that work? How does Christ’s rescuing love actually free me from the selfish acts I commit almost every day? There are two things that God wants us to do.

First, God’s Word is telling us that we need to take time to think. The primary command from the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:3 is to “not think more highly than we ought, but to think with sober judgment.” The word he uses that is translated “sober judgment” has the idea of deliberate reflection about important things. Within the context of our two texts, we are to think “deliberately” about Jesus. As for Christians, Jesus is our Redeemer, our Rescuer, and our King! At the same time, we are to think “deliberately” about who we are. As believers we were once enslaved to sin, but when Christ died, we too died (cf. 2 COR 5:14). We were released from our bondage to sin and selfishness through the death of Christ. However, we need to remind ourselves daily that we are not the people we once were. We are Christ’s subjects, and citizens of His kingdom.

The other thing we need to do is to act. In writing to the Corinthians Paul said that we are “no longer to live for ourselves (i.e. selfishly), but for the one who died and was raised." (2 COR 5:15) The resurrection of Christ has changed everything. Christians are now freed from their sin, so that we can live every day in service to Christ. That means that we serve Him by extending the love of Christ to others—our family members, our neighbors, our colleagues at work, and the people we see in need.

There is no act motivated by the love of Christ that is insignificant or overlooked by God Almighty.

Yes, my friend’s confession ended up being used by the Holy Spirit to reveal my own selfish ways. 

In fact, if you look carefully, you will probably see selfish actions in your own life as well. 

Don’t keep walking in the devastation of your selfishness. Determine to live for the Savior today. 

Find people who have needs you can meet, and serve them in Jesus’ Name. It is God’s antidote for self-centered living.

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