What does the Bible say about selfishness? Selfishness impacts our relationships with others. Selflessness is the antonym of selfishness that helps us to think of others. Overcome the signs of selfishness with practical tips to be a better person.
What does the Bible say about Selfishness?
Selfishness can be an uncomfortable topic, right? We want to think we are better than the pettiness of selfish actions and attitudes. “I’m not selfish!”–this is my first defensive response. What I’m really feeling is “I don’t want to be that person, the one who is selfish.”
Yesterday I realized things I was upset about really came down to…being too caught up in my own interests. Busted! Catching myself being selfish, I spent time reflecting on what the Bible says about selfishness.
Philippians 2:1-8 features a helpful passage to overcome selfishness.
This passage can inspire us to build the holy habit of caring for others.There is a striking contrast in the progression of verses in this passage. It’s kind of Humble sandwich:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Do nothing from selfish motives or self-conceit. Nothing? Oh, this is hard! Self-focus is the natural default setting of our sin nature. If we could see a print out of our motivations over the last week, we’d be shocked at how pervasive selfishness is in our thinking.
When we look at the entire passage, we learn more about what the Bible says about selfishness by the contrast of the example the selflessness of Jesus.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:1-8).
These challenging words on selfishness are sandwiched between a description of how the body of Christ should be acting and how Christ showed true humility. Selflessness is the antonym of selfishness, but it can be hard to put others first. Loving encouragement, compassion, and Spirit-led affection are the result of looking out for one another.Selfishness harms relationships but selflessness makes us a better person and a better friend. Click To Tweet
Caring about the interests of others and sharing their concerns creates unity and bonds of friendship.
The humility of Christ is a stark contrast to the self-focus that lurks in our hearts. He emptied Himself of divine glory and did not insist that He be treated according to His right. Sacrificing Himself for our benefit is the extreme act of looking out for the interests of others. Love grows when we let go of our own interests and we care for others.
Another passage to overcome selfishness is Romans 12:10-16.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. -Romans 12:10-16 NASB
I think of this passage as a course in anti-selfishness, powerful ways of practicing the needed art of selflessness. Giving preference to others, honoring and caring for the people around us is both good for our soul and for our relationships!
10 Do-Able Ways Overcome Selfishness:
- Pay attention to what others are excited about.
- Be a cheerleader. See the best in others, especially when they can’t.
- Follow through with commitments to others.
- Be thankful for the people God places in your life. Gratitude chases selfishness away.
- Be intentional. Don’t let busyness crowd out the needs of others.
- Share the load and lend a helping hand.
- Give the grace-gift of belonging and welcome new friends. Be inclusive rather than exclusive in relationships.
- Make a habit of giving thoughtful gifts and notes of encouragement.
- Don’t compare or compete. Celebrate the victories of others rather than be envious.
- Accept others as they are; nobody is perfect…including you.
When we practice putting others first and caring for their concerns, we will build deeper relationships. We will also grow deeper spiritually as we overcome the tendency of our flesh to make everything about us. Is this challenging? Yes! But when ask for the help of the Holy Spirit and we work on these do-able practices, we will reap the blessing of personal, relational, and spiritual growth!
Which one of these tips do you most need to practice today?
Become your best self with more practical truths and tips for godly living!
Check out my book, Holy in the Moment, for simple ways to grow deeper in your relationship with God, spiritual practices, emotions and thoughts, attitudes, relationships with others, and work. Get the book here or check out my free chapter, discussion guide, printable graphics, and bookmark on my book page.
Want to incorporate other practical and holy habits in your life?
Request to join the Holy in the Moment Community group on Facebook. Each week we practice intentional choices in a variety of topics that deepen our relationship with God, others, and ourselves. We are an engaged community of readers and cheerleaders for practicing the power of holy choices in our everyday lives.
This is an update of a post that originally appeared on Five Minutes for Faith in 2013. This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. When you use my link to buy my book, I receive a small commission that helps to pay for the cost of this site.