HomeBible TopicsBible Topics: Selfishness and self-centeredness

Definition: Being concerned chiefly or only with one’s self, without thinking of others.

1. Selfishness is a lack of love and consideration for the needs of others.

* Genesis 4:9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?

* Proverbs 18:17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.

* Proverbs 24:11,12 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? And shall not He render to every man according to his works?

* Ezekiel 34:8b,10,18,23,24 [God speaks against selfish shepherds, and He promises to raise up a David of the Last Days, who will unselfishly feed the sheep:] Neither did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not My flock. … 10 Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require My flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver My flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them. … 18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? And to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? … 23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. 24 And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken it.

* Zechariah 7:6 And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

* Matthew 25:42-45 For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick , and in prison and ye visited Me not. 44 Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? 45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.

* Philippians 2:21 [Selfishness causes the Lord’s work to suffer:] For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

* 2 Timothy 3:1,2a [As the world enters the time of the End, selfishness becomes more pronounced:] This know also, that in the Last Days perilous times shall come. 2a For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous. [See also Matthew 24:12.]

* James 2:15,16 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

* James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

* 1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

2. Selfishness hoards itself poor.

* Proverbs 11:24b There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.

* Proverbs 13:7a There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing.

* Proverbs 15:27a He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.

* Proverbs 28:27b He that hideth his eyes [from the needs of others] shall have many a curse.

* Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt.

* Haggai 1:6,9,10 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? Saith the Lord of hosts. Because of Mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

* Mark 10:21,22 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow Me. 22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

* Luke 12:15 And [Jesus] said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

* 2 Corinthians 9:6a But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly.

* Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. [See Genesis 31:5-9,41,42 for the story of how God helped Jacob collect his due from his selfish father-in-law, Laban.]

* James 5:1-5 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the Last Days. 4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. 5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

3. Selfishness is the cause of many of the world’s evils, including war, suffering and misery.

* Jeremiah 5:26-28 For among My people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. 27 As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich. 28 They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

* Hosea 12:7 He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.

* Micah 6:12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

* 1 Timothy 6:9,10 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

* James 4:1,2a From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2a Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not.

4. Self-centeredness and trying to get your own way yields bad fruit.

* 1 Samuel 2:22-25a and 3:13 [Eli, the priest was judged by God for letting his sons have their own way:] Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. 25a If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father. 3:13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

* 1 Kings 1:1a,5,6a [The bad fruit of King David spoiling his son:] Now King David was old and stricken in years; 5 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6a And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? [See verses 16-21.]

* Proverbs 1:30-32 They would none of My counsel: they despised all My reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

* Proverbs 14:14a The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.

* Isaiah 65:2 I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.

* Jeremiah 7:24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

* Luke 15:12,13 [The story of the Prodigal Son:] And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

5. Pursuing our own desires and self-interests won’t bring satisfaction.

* Job 9:4b Who hath hardened himself against Him, and hath prospered?

* Job 27:8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?

* Psalm 106:15 And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

* Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

* Ecclesiastes 1:8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

* Ecclesiastes 2:10,11 [A self-indulgent King Solomon said:] And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.

6. The true Christian life is one of self-denial — just the opposite of self-centeredness.

* Luke 9:23 And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. [See Titus 2:12.]

* Luke 14:26,27 If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.

* Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

* Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him [the Devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

* 2 Corinthians 5:15 He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.

* Galatians 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

7. When we put the Lord and others before ourselves, the Lord usually grants us our personal desires.

* Psalm 34:9,10 O fear the Lord, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. 10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

* Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. [See Psalm 21:2; 145:19.]

* Psalm 84:11b No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

* Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

* 1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.

8. The Word warns against using personal charm, motivated by pride, to draw others to yourself or to get your own way. We should rather draw people to the Lord.

* Proverbs 25:27 It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.

* John 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

* John 7:18a He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory.

* 1 Corinthians 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

* 1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

* 1 Corinthians 10:31,33 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. … 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

* 2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

* 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

* Philippians 2:21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

9. God always blesses unselfishness.

* Deuteronomy 15:10 Thou shalt surely give him [the poor], and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

* Proverbs 11:24a-26 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth. 25 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. 26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.

* Proverbs 13:7b There is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

* Proverbs 14:21b He that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.

* Isaiah 58:10,11 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

* Matthew 6:3,4 But when thou doest alms [give to the needy], let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms [giving] may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.

* Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

* John 12:24,25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

* Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

10. Unselfishness is a cornerstone of Christianity.

* Romans 15:1-3a We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3a For even Christ pleased not Himself.

* 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.

* 1 Corinthians 13:5b Charity [love] seeketh not her own.

* 2 Corinthians 5:14a,15 For the love of Christ constraineth us. 15 And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.

* 2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

* Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

* Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

* Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

* James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.

* 1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

11. Jesus taught unselfishness by His Own loving sample.

* Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. [See also Isaiah 53:12; 1 Timothy 2:6a.]

* John 15:12,13 This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

* 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.

* 1 John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

12. In the Lord’s work, commitment and unselfishness go hand-in-hand.

* Matthew 26:39 And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.

* Jeremiah 42:6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil [difficult or sacrificial], we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to Whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.

* Luke 17:10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

* 1 Corinthians 10:33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
[See also 2 Corinthians 5:15; Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 11:24-26.]

13. True Christianity gives sacrificially and calls nothing its own.

* Matthew 5:42 Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

* Luke 3:11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

* Luke 6:30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

* Acts 2:44,45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

* Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

14. Unselfishness was characterized by many of God’s “greats.”

* Genesis 13:9 [When strife arose between the herdsmen of his nephew, Lot, and his own, Abraham wisely offered to divide up their land, giving Lot first choice of the best land:] Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

* Genesis 50:21 [Joseph showed extraordinary kindness to his brothers, who previously had sold him tried to kill him and then sold him to Egyptian traders as a slave:] Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

* 1 Samuel 18:4 [Jonathan, the son of King Saul, befriends David and gives his belongings to him:] And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

* 1 Kings 17:8-16 [The poor widow of Zarephath shares what’s left of her food with Elijah, and is blessed during the drought:] And the Word of the Lord came unto [Elijah], saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, … and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. 15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the Word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah.

* Mark 12:41-44 [The poor widow shared with God unselfishly from her heart all that she had:] And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

* Mark 14:3-9 [The woman who anointed Jesus with an expensive ointment is to be honored:] And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on His head. 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on Me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always. 8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying. 9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial

* Luke 10:29-37 [The good Samaritan is an example to us all of unselfish kindness shown to a stranger:] But he [a religious lawyer], willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

* Romans 16:4 [Paul said of Priscilla and Aquila:] Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

* Philippians 2:30 [Epaphroditus:] Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

Copyright (c) 1998 by Aurora Productions


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