Illustration results for Selfishness
Sermon Central Staff
WHEN DOES THE SIZE OF A HOUSE BECOME SINFUL?
Several years ago, Millard Fuller of Habitat for Humanity addressed the National Press Club on public radio, on which he recalled a workshop he conducted at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with 200 pastors in attendance. The assembled pastors quickly pointed toward greed and selfishness as the reason the church never had enough money to accomplish its mission in the world.
Millard then asked this seemingly innocent question: "Is it possible for a person to build a house so large that it's sinful in the eyes of God? Raise your hand if you think so."
All 200 pastors raised their hands.
"Okay," said Millard, "then can you tell me at exactly what size, the precise square footage, a certain house becomes sinful to occupy?"
Silence from the pastors. You could have heard a pin drop.
Finally, a small, quiet voice spoke up from the back of the room: "When it is bigger than mine."
(Frank G. Honeycutt, Preaching to Skeptics and Seekers. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Treasure's Trap, 9/18/2010)
The Bible defines worldliness by centering morality where we intuitively know it should be. Worldliness is the lust of the flesh (a passion for sensual satisfaction), the lust of the eyes (an inordinate desire for the finer things of life), and the pride of life (self-satisfaction in who we are, what we have, and what we have done). Worldliness, then, is a preoccupation with ease and affluence. It elevates creature comfort to the point of idolatry; large salaries and comfortable life-styles become necessities of life.
Worldliness is reading magazines about people who live hedonistic lives and spend too much money on themselves and wanting to be like them. But more importantly, worldliness is simply pride and selfishness in disguises. Itís being resentful when someone snubs us or patronizes us or shows off. It means smarting under every slight, challenging every word spoken against us, cringing when another is preferred before us. Worldliness is harboring grudges, nursing grievance, and wallowing in self-pity. These are the ways in which we are most like the world.
Dave Roper, The Strength of a Man, quoted in Family Survival in the American Jungle, Steve Farrar, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 68.
Sermon Central Staff
A man was stranded on an island. Alone for a number of years. Finally he was located and some people came ashore to rescue him. Before they took him off the island, he wanted to show them around. He took them to his hut and said "This is the home I built with my own 2 hands." Then he showed them to another building and he said "This is the church I built with my own 2 hands." Then someone in the group said "Hey, what's that building over there?" And the man replied "That's where I used to go to church."
I don't know how it is in other parts of the world, but it seems like this is the American way. 2 cars, 2 kids, a dog and half a dozen churches we used to attend.
This isn't bad necessarily. There are times when God would have us move on, take our gifts, abilities, resources and energy and use them to serve another body of believers.
But too often selfishness, pride, unforgiveness, a mentality that the church exists to meet my needs prevails and we become disgruntled, we divide and there is disunity for the wrong reasons. Disunity grieves the heart of God and brings dishonor to his name.
I read about a church where there was division and it began over an argument at a potluck supper when a lady brought a congealed salad she made with Cool Whip instead of real whipping cream.
Churches have divided over whether the pianist should sit to the right or the left side of the podium, over whether the Lord's Supper should be served from the front to the back or the back to the front, over trying to decide whether a kitchen should be a part of the church building or not.
One church split over who was the real pastor. They had two pastors. Two groups thought they each had their own guy, and both of them got up to lead a service one Sunday. Both led the singing. Both groups tried to out-sing each other. Then both pastors started preaching, trying to out-preach each other. Finally, they just broke out into fisticuffs, and the police had to come in and break it up.
This from Landover, Maryland, August 1999:
100 years of Christian fellowship, unity, and community outreach ended last Tuesday in an act of congregational discord. Holy Creek Baptist Church was split into multiple factions.
The source of dissension is a piano bench which still sits behind the 1923 Steinway piano to the left of the pulpit. Members and friends at Holy Creek Baptist say that the old bench was always a source of hostility. People should have seen this coming.
At present, Holy Creek Congregation will be having four services each Sunday. There has been an agreement mediated by an outside pastor so that each faction will have it's own separate service with it's own separate pastor. Since the head pastor is not speaking to the associate pastors, each will have their own service, which will be attended by factioned members. The services are far enough apart that neither group will come into contact with the other. An outside party will be moving the piano bench to different locations and appropriate positions, between services, so as to please both sides, and avoid any further conflict that could result in violence.
(From a sermon by Bret Toman, Unity For the Glory of God, 1/3/2011)
UNSELFISH AND HAPPY
A fascinating study on the principle of the Golden Rule was conducted by Bernard Rimland, director of the Institute for Child Behavior Research. Rimland found that "The happiest people are those who help others."
Each person involved in the study was asked to list ten people he knew best and to label them as happy or not happy. Then they were to go through the list again and label each one as selfish or unselfish, using the following definition of selfishness: a stable tendency to devote oneís time and resources to oneís own interests and welfare--an unwillingness to inconvenience oneís self for others."
In categorizing the results, Rimland found that all of the people labeled happy were also labeled unselfish. He wrote that those "whose activities are devoted to bringing themselves happiness...are far less likely to be happy than those whose effor...
RIGHT PRAYER FOR THE WRONG REASON
I began teaching during the Wednesday night prayer meetings seven months ago. Suppose I prayed every day for all those months for God to make us into a praying church. Suppose I prayed morning, noon, and night for God to make us a praying church. Suppose I prayed both persistently and fervently for God to make us a praying church.
God commands us to pray. We know that it is his will. When we pray, we are being obedient. Every time the church prayed in Acts, they received power and God received glory. Praying for God to make us a praying church is praying for the right thing. But it is still possible to ask for the wrong reason.
Suppose, while praying daily for God to make us a praying church, I picture myself teaching about prayer before we pray. The sanctuary is filled to capacity, even though it is not full on Sunday mornings. The balcony is filled to capacity, even though it is not even used on Sunday mornings. All eyes are on me. I announce the scripture. The sudden rush of turning pages is almost thunderous. Then, it is quiet, as everyone waits for me to read. I read. I teach. Through-out the sanctuary, people can be seen feverishly taking notes. The sound of my teaching is repeatedly punctuated by shouts of "Amen!" and "Yes, Lord!" and "Hallelujah!" Everyone is hanging on my every word.
When it is time to pray, groups form everywhere. Prayers raise the roof and heaven comes down. When the glory can no longer be contained, we march out, ready to take Everman for Christ, or die trying.
Suppose, while praying daily for God to make us a praying church, all that is in my mind. Do you think I am praying for God's glory, or my own? I am praying for the right thing, but am I praying with the right motive?
I read that the Eskimos of Canada and Greenland have an interesting, if rather cruel, way of hunting bear. They will take a bone, preferably a wolf bone, and they will sharpen it at both ends. Then they will coil it through a process, freeze it in blubber and lay it across one of the paths the bears travel. As the bear comes along he smells the blubber and in one gulp he takes it and swallows it, not knowing that itís just blubber on the outside, but on the inside thereís this twisted, sharpened bone. And the minute he swallows it heís dead. He doesnít drop down just yet, but every move he makes, every step he takes, causes that bone to twist and to slash and to tear and the internal bleeding starts and the Eskimos just follow the tracks of that bear until it dies. Itís the same way as a person who says, "Iím going to save my life, Iím going to keep my life for myself, Iím going to do what I want to do." The minute you do that you are already in the process of dying and destroying your life.
C. S. Lewis said: "to love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it around carefully with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of your selfishness. But in that casket -- safe, dark, motionless, airless -- it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable .... The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is .... Hell."
EMPTIED OUT AND FILLED UP
D. L. Moody said,
ďI believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to Godís law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts.
But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambi...
Think how many temptations you and I face in an ordinary day. Staying in bed late - the temptation to laziness. Growling at the breakfast table - the temptation to unkindness. Arguing over who should change the baby this time - the temptation to selfishness. Starting work 10 minutes late - the temptation to slothfulness. Losing your temper when a co-worker crashes your computer - the temptation to impatience. Flirting with that good-looking woman, taking a second look at the good-looking man - the temptation to lust. Refusing to speak to a person who has hurt you - the temptation to malice. Repeating a juicy story of your neighbor’s misfortune - the temptation to gossip. Lying awake at night thinking sensual thoughts - the temptation to impurity. Taking your anger out on the children after a hard day - the temptation to cruelty. Going out the eat when you can’t afford it - the temptation to self-indulgence. Having a second helping and then a third - the temptation to gluttony. Firing off a hasty letter to a friend who hurt you - the temptation to revenge.
In the Pacific Northwest, where itís overcast most days, lots of people suffer from light deprivation, which results in mood swings and depression. Thereís even a scientific name for this problem: ďSeasonal Affective Disorder,ď or S.A.D. People suffering from S.A.D. have to set up special light panels in their homes and get heavy doses of illumination in order to be happy campers. We need light. We canít survive without it.
We canít survive without the Son of God, either. Our shadowy hearts, tinted by selfishness and confusion, need His light.