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Is it evil to be selfish?
Certainly selfishness is a characteristic that is frowned upon in early childhood schooling.
You need to be a team player. You need to love other people. You need to invest your time and your energy in making the world a better place. You need to put God first.
But does that mean that you shouldn’t be selfish? Does that mean that you shouldn’t act in your own self interest? Does that mean that you shouldn’t love yourself?
When one of the scripture instructors of the day asked Jesus which of all of God’s commandments was the most important, Jesus said,
“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12
Love your neighbor AS yourself.
To achieve your full potential and live the abundant life that God has planned for you, the first and most important relationship in your life is with God. Understanding God’s heart, embracing God’s will, following God’s example, fulfilling God’s promises, and experiencing all of God’s many blessings are the keys that lead to fulfillment, peace, satisfaction, success, joy, contentment, and prosperity.
If you choose yourself over a relationship with God, it will blind you to your context, obscure your opportunities, and cloud your vision from seeing the destiny that is possible for you. So, if by “selfish” you mean that you intend to become your own frame of reference and that your own subjective observations, opinions, and experiences are the only inputs to your decision making, then “selfish” is indeed an obstacle that will stand between you and success.
This is because, only considering yourself, your own perspective, your own desires, your own wants, and your own needs to the exclusion of all other insights, considerations, and contexts is an incredibly limiting position to take. On the other hand, to the degree that you are able to re-frame your awareness to see and reflect on a more objective view that is inclusive of a greater number of inputs beyond just your own contributions, to that same degree you will be able to increase your influence, your impact, and your success.
That said, in common usage “selfish” is used to mean a far broader range of beliefs and behaviors than simply the fully exclusive consideration of yourself as the only player of value in your context and experience. So, while this narrow definition of “selfish” can be extremely destructive of success, and leads to all manner of dysfunctional choices and experiences, the fact is that much of what is commonly believed or identified to be selfish is actually good, useful, and essential to a successful life.
Love God with everything you are, everything you have, and everything you do. And love your neighbor AS yourself.
Jesus is saying to love yourself, care for yourself, invest in yourself, believe in yourself, provide for yourself — renew, refresh, recharge yourself — be good to yourself, just like you would be good to someone else.
Be good to yourself. Love yourself. Just like God loves you.
Love yourself, just like you love other people.
Not more. Not less.
In balance, in proportion, organically, regularly, with commitment and purpose, intention and design — love yourself.
Is it “selfish” to get enough sleep? Is it “selfish” to eat good food? Is it “selfish” to take time for yourself to renew and recharge? Is it “selfish” to exercise and be fit or do what it takes to be healthy? Is it “selfish” to invest in education for yourself? The list goes on and on and on. And the answer to all of these queries is “No!”. Loving yourself like God loves you is a key aspect of saying “Yes!” to God’s will for your life.
It is time to boldly declare that God loves you.
It is time to boldly declare that God believes in you.
It is time to boldly declare that God is investing in you and blessing you and providing for you and caring for you and healing you and restoring you and renewing, refreshing, and recharging you every step of the way.
Let go of the secret shame. Let go of the creeping guilt. Let go of the subliminal fear and doubt. Reject self loathing, self abuse, self hatred, and self doubt. Refuse to accept the condemnations and accusations of any who would tell you that you are without value, worthless, unimportant, nonessential, or in any way not worthy of God’s goodness and all of the blessings that God has promised for you!
God is good all the time.
God is good to you all the time.
If you are going to follow in God’s footsteps, embrace God’s will, and experience the life that God has in store for you — you have to be good to you too!
It is God’s desire, God’s passionate pursuit, God’s intentional purpose, and God’s eternal mission to love and to bless every human being created. To reject or refuse to receive God’s love and God’s blessings for you is to reject God and the life that God is offering you, which is a life of fulfillment, peace, and joy.
The way God works is that God finds people who are willing to receive the blessings He offers and then through them He spreads the blessings to others who are not yet ready or willing to accept them directly. Then, as they realize the source and become willing to receive them directly, the blessings multiply to reach more still, and so on. That is why, when God called Abram to become Abraham and be the father of a great nation, God said,
“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12
If you want to be a blessing to others, you first must receive the blessing yourself. That is why when Jesus commissioned the apostles not only did He say,
“Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons.” – Matthew 10
He followed it up by saying,
Give as freely as you have received!” – Matthew 10
You can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t receive God’s love, experience God’s goodness, and rejoice in all of the blessings that God provides, you won’t be able to share them with others.
That is why Jesus said that your first priority should be to have a relationship with God, but then second and equal to that priority is to have relationships with others based on the relationship that you have with God — loving them just like God loves you and you love yourself, and so introducing them to the goodness, the grace, the mercy, the abundance, the healing, the peace, and the joy that God has already given you and that you have already received for yourself. It’s like God said to Abraham,
“I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12