Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Sometimes we think we are the centre of the universe. We get so wrapped up in our own world and issues of daily life, we forget about others and their struggles. The little word ‘me’ becomes very important. We somehow think everything revolves (or should revolve) around ourselves.
I heard the story of a well-known American novelist who sold lots of books and many people knew his name. He was quite popular and successful. He was interested in a young lady with whom he became acquainted. They were sitting together on the lounge talking. He said to her, “Well, that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What did you think of my latest book?” You see, he didn’t get it. They were only words he was giving—he didn’t really want to hear about her. The centre of the world was himself. Like the quaint poem A Little Tea Party:
I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
‘Twas very small,
Three guests in all-
Just I, myself, and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank all the tea.
‘Twas also I who ate the pie,
And passed the cake to me.
All too often we think our feelings and ideas are the most important in the world. But guess what: often times, others have better ideas than you or me. Life has a habit of jolting us into reality, and a lot of things don’t work out as we expect them to. We need to learn we can be wrong sometimes.
Some people love to talk, mainly about themselves, and can be quite dismissive about the point of view of others. They’re not all that interested in what you’ve got to say—they have already worked out their response before you can say too much. You know people like that? Does my opinion matter? Probably not. The New American Webster Dictionary has a great definition for selfish people: they are absorbed in themselves. It’s like everything revolves around them, and no-one else. It’s all about me, myself and I. The self-centred person loves no-one else except themselves.
We recognise self-centred people because they:
- talk about themselves constantly and want to be centre of attention
- do not listen to others well nor care to listen to what others have to say and make no bones about it
- can cut off a conversation they are having with another person and start talking about themselves
- can be vain about their looks and are constantly looking at themselves in any reflection they can manage to get to, or are constantly preening themselves while the world flies by
- take, but don’t give back
- may flirt even if they have a girl/boyfriend or are married
- constantly need reassurance about their looks
- sulk if they don’t get enough attention.
Basically, for self-centred people, everything in society is about ‘them’. For example, Jayne tells her husband Peter that she’s had a hard day. Instead of asking Jayne what happened today, Peter says that he “had a hard day too so what is the point in talking about it?” Perhaps Jayne tries then to continue or soothe the conversation with something like, “We both had a hard day then, so do you want to talk about it or take a walk?” But Peter, being the self-centred person he is, shifts the focus by saying something like, “It’s not my fault you had a bad day so why are you trying to ruin mine?” It’s a fairly simple illustration, but I’m sure you get my drift.
Becoming a God-Centred Person
The Bible has much to say about this kind of behaviour. Jesus said in Luke 9:24-25, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process?” (New Living Testament). This verse is talking about the biggest change that can happen to you and me: changing from a self-centred person to a God-centred person. It can happen, and many can tell you about it. It completely shakes up their life, and life suddenly becomes meaningful and joyful—there is nothing more miserable than living for yourself. We switch our focus from what we want, to what God wants for us.
The Christian author Colin S. Smith wrote in his book Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life:
When God interrupts your life, He is calling you to follow Him in a new way. By breaking into your settled pattern, He is moving you to a new place where you can make fresh discoveries of His grace. Embracing God’s call is never easy, but this is where the pursuit of a God-centered life begins, and where the shame of a self-centered life is exposed.
If you want God to change your selfishness, develop a deep and meaningful relationship with him. Start each day quietly reading the Bible and praying to God, allowing him to guide your thoughts and actions. It’s the best thing you can do. We all need great human friends, but centring your life on God and studying scripture (especially about your uniqueness and identity in Christ) can provide you a wonderful resource and give you meaningful outlets to use your gifts in helping others. For example read the wonderful words in Ephesians 1:3-6:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
In 1 Corinthians 13 we read that “love is not rude, not selfish.” We need to be humble before God and with others, and acknowledge we are sinners in need of his mercy and forgiveness. Repent of our wrongdoing, and pray to him whenever we can.
Serving others is a good weapon against selfishness. When we serve another person, our focus is on someone else and their needs.