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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Selfishness Part I

Selfishness-Adjective
1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
2 : arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others
Synonyms: self-interested, self-seeking, egoistic

So many virtues are scoffed at and mocked and turned into a negative thing in our society. For instance, it's considered laughable for men and women to remain virgins until they are married. On the other hand, so many vices have been turned into something admirable and and cool. Greed and selfishness are often boasted of. I've seen t-shirts with "It's all about me, so deal with it"; "You say I'm a bitch like it's a bad thing"; "Rehab is my Timeout"; "I'm looking for a juicy sin to commit" and "I Want What I Want". We live in an upside down world.

Galatians 5:19-22 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Ephesians 5:11-12 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.



Ayn Rand's book, Selfishness is a Virtue, sounds wrong to me. According to the Bible, selfishness is a vice. Jesus says we are to put others first NOT ourselves.
Matthew 22:39 "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (CEV version) You can be certain that in the last days there will be some very hard times.
People will love only themselves and money.
They will be proud, stuck-up, rude, and disobedient to their parents.
They will also be ungrateful, godless, heartless, and hateful.
Their words will be cruel, and they will have no self-control or pity.
These people will hate everything that is good. They will be sneaky, reckless, and puffed up with pride.
Instead of loving God, they will love pleasure.
Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won't be real.
Don't have anything to do with such people.

Smeagol Gollum from Lord of the Rings

James 4:2-3 (CEV version) You want something you don't have, and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won't get it by fighting and arguing. You should pray for it.
Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.

Luke 12:16-21 So Jesus told them this story: A rich man's farm produced a big crop, and he said to himself, "What can I do? I don't have a place large enough to store everything."
Later, he said, "Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods.
Then I'll say to myself, 'You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.' "
But God said to him, "You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?"
"This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God."

Uncle Scrooge McDuck from Disney


In Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, Sherman McCoy, is a millionaire and New York City bond trader with a wife and young daughter. They live in an expensive penthouse and have the best of everything. His life on Wall Street is destroyed when he and his mistress, Maria Ruskin, accidentally enter the Bronx at night. Finding the ramp back to the highway blocked by trash cans and a tire, McCoy exits the car to clear the way. They are approached by two blacks whom they perceive as predators. McCoy and Ruskin flee and their car fishtails apparently striking one of the two men. In this book, Sherman McCoy has such a high opinion of himself that he calls himself a "Master of the Universe" and feels he is so much more superior than everyone else. He feels he deserves whatever he wants.

Here is an excerpt:
The Masters of the Universe were a set of lurid, rapacious plastic dolls that his otherwise perfect daughter liked to play with...Yet one fine day, in a fit of euphoria, after he had picked up the telephone and taken an order for zero-coupon bonds that had brought him a $50,000 commission, just like that, this very phrase had bubbled up into his brain. On Wall Street he and a few others-how many?--three hundred, four hundred, five hundred?--had become precisely that...Masters of the Universe. There was...no limit whatsover! Naturally he had never so much as whispered this phrase to a living soul. He was no fool. Yet he couldn't get it out of his head. And here was the Master of the Universe, on the floor with a dog, hog-tied by sweetness, guilt, and logic...Why couldn't he (being a Master of the Universe) simply explain it to her? Look, Judy, I still love you and I love our daughter and I love our home and I love our life, and I don't want to change any of it--it's just that I, a Master of the Universe, a young man still in the season of the rising sap, deserve more from time to time, when the spirit moves me--

--but he knew he could never put any such thought into words. So resentment began to bubble up into his brain...In a way she brought it on herself, didn't she...

(Sherman goes to make his rendezvous with his mistress, Maria Ruskin. On the way he calls to make sure she is at the apartment where they meet but he accidentally calls home instead and asks his wife for "Maria". Now he comes home and Judy knows he's been to meet his paramour.)

Sherman went over to the desk and sat down in his Hepplewhite swivel chair. He slumped back. His eyes lit on the frieze that ran around the ceiling of the little room. It was carved of Indian redwood, in high relief, in the form of figures hurrying along a city sidewalk. Judy had had it done in Hong Kong for an astonishing amount...of my money. Then he leaned forward. Goddamn her. Desperately he tried to relight the fires of righteous indignation. His parents had been right, hadn't they? He deserved better. She was two years older than he was, and his mother had said such things could matter-which, the way she said it, meant it would matter, and had he listened? Ohhhh no. His father, who had a short messy marriage to some obscure little Jewish girl, had said, "Isn't it just as easy to fall in love with a rich girl from a good family?" And had he listened? Ohhhh no. And all these years, Judy, as the daughter of a Midwestern history professor-a Midwestern history professor!-had acted as if she was an intellectual aristocrat--but she hadn't minded using his money and his family to get in with this new social crowd of hers and start her decorating business and smear their names and their apartment across the pages of these vulgar publications, W and Architectural Digest and the rest of them, had she? Ohhhh no, not for a minute! And what was he left with? A forty-year-old bolting off to her Sports Training classes...--and now she, forty years old, starved and Sports Trained to near-perfection, goes crying off to bed.


Selfishness and pride go hand-in-hand. How many times has our pride and selfishness made a mess of things? Adam and Eve were whispered to by the serpent, satan, "You can be like God", and they swallowed it hook, line and sinker and brought sin into the world. Satan whispers to us that we deserve it all, we can be like God, we can live like gods, the whole world can revolve around us...and we believe it! Selfishness comes from pride. And selfishness and pride can become a habit, one we don't even realize we are doing. Selfishness then becomes a character trait and it's not a very attractive one.

Mongomery Burns on The Simpsons


How do we become so self centered and selfish? First, we are all born with a sinful human nature and selfishness appeals to our sinful human nature. I.e. it's natural to be selfish. But, as small children, our parents "ooh" and "ahh" over us and make us the center of the family. Some of that is natural. God made it so that all normal adults will acknowledge that a baby is in the room and it's hard to keep our eyes off of them. This is so the helpless and vulnerable baby is well taken care of and it's needs met. But it can go overboard. The baby, then the Toddler, then the Child and then the Teen are the center of attention in the home and the family revolves around the children. Putting a child on a pedestal and worshipping it is NOT what God had in mind. These children can become petty tyrants while parents blush or laugh. But these little tyrants become spoiled brats that can no longer be overlooked and then they become rebellious teenagers who cannot be satisfied and, finally, dysfunctional adults who fall into trouble when they are caught trying to grab what they want. A child should be taught from an early age to respect and honor his parents (if they are good parents) and to show respect to others. They should learn how to share and cooperate and to give to others. This is for their own good because the child will benefit from his unselfishness: A selfless person is usually happier, more well adjusted and will have good relationships with others such as his wife, children, friends, co-workers.

Selfishness usually makes us greedy and we hoard our money and things so that we benefit from them and no one else does. Once we start getting greedy and selfish, we begin to resent what others have. Then we resent how others "use" us and waste our money. Then we become stingy to a fault. The more selfish we become, the smaller of a person we become. We stop doing anything that benefits others unless they give back in some way. We can't donate to a charity without the hospital wing being named after us. We don't do a favor for someone without telling them, "You owe me one." We constantly keep a running total in mind of what someone owes us, how much we've done for others and demanding that they do for us. We may become materially wealthy but we become spiritually weak and poor.

Selfishness and love are complete opposites. Selfishness is all about pleasing yourself while love is all about pleasing others.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.
Love isn't selfish or quick tempered. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.
Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.
Love never fails!

God gave us the Ten Commandments. The first commandments tell us how we are to relate to God. The last of the commandments tell us how we are to relate to others. One of those commands is, Thou Shalt Not Covet.

To covet is to want what someone else has. It is to think that you deserve it better than your neighbor and you want it so you will think of a way to get it. But God teaches us that we are to love others more than we love ourself and we are to put others before ourself. So if we see our neighbor has something good, then be glad for him, rejoice with him. You can pray and work towards having something like it one day but you don't knock your neighbor down and grab what he has and take it. If your neighbor has money, you don't steal it. If your neighbor has a goodlooking spouse, you don't run after the spouse and commit adultery. If your neighbor has a nice home, you don't trash it. If your neighbor has a nice car, you don't steal it. People who do these kinds of things are selfish. They want what they want, when they want it, no matter how they get it, and will pitch a fit until they get it. This is a childish, ugly, unattractive personality trait and they won't have any friends.

In fact, selfish people won't have good marriages, won't have good relationships with their children, won't have friends, won't be able to work with others and will one day end up alone and paranoid.

How do you become less selfish? How do you change your character and your habits of selfishness? The only way to begin is to ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and pray that you be born again. Then your new spirit will begin to convict you of selfish ways and you will begin turning your life around one day at a time. It will be a struggle but one you can begin. You will have more victories over your self as time goes by and you will become less and less selfish and the Holy Spirit works at training your spirit. Love God first and then try to love others. Pray and read the Bible because the Bible will teach you how things should be. One day, you will see vices as vices and virtues as virtues.

Selfishness, Part II
http://sharonscrapbook.blogspot.com/2010/03/selfishness-part-ii.html

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