Summary: Selfishness is that sin we can hardly stand in others, or hardly see in ourselves. It is so hard to forgive in others, and so hard to forsake in ourselves.
On Dec. 7, 1682 the Great Law of Pennsylvania was passed which
became the basis for governing the state for 94 years. It represented
William Penn's ideal of a Christian state. It provided for religious
freedom and the protection of individual rights. It provided for the
care of poor and orphans. It gave work to prisoners in contrast to
England where they were merely locked up. William Penn was a
man concerned about the interests of others. He made just treaties
with the Indians, and the Delaware chief-Tammany and he were
great personal friends. As long as they lived there was peace and
harmony between their peoples.
Penn arranged the famous "Walking Purchase" by which he
bought from the Indians all the land North along the Delaware
River that a man could cover in a three day walk. He walked off the
first day himself in leisurely fashion. After his death his son
Governor Thomas Penn hired three back woodsmen to complete the
purchase. The fastest of them ran, and did not walk, more than 60
miles in 36 hours. He defrauded the Indians of valuable hunting
grounds. This selfish act lead to wars on the Pennsylvania frontier
in which hundreds of lives were lost. The beautiful harmony
became ugly discord.
Selfishness has thrown a money wrench into every smooth
operation in history. We see it in the New Testament. The church
at Philippi was the best church in the New Testament. Paul's letter
to them is almost totally positive, and it is filled with praise and joy.
They were not trouble makers like the Corinthians, nor emotional
infants like the Thessalonians. They were well-balanced mature
Christians, but they still had the flaw, that universal flaw of every
church because it is the flaw of all men-selfishness.
Selfishness is that sin we can hardly stand in others, or hardly see
in ourselves. It is so hard to forgive in others, and so hard to forsake
in ourselves. It was the one weakness of the Philippian church, and
it led to strife and disunity. No group of people, not even God's
people can agree on everything, and this is not all bad, for God loves
variety. We do also, but it so often leads to conflict in human
relations. Paul tells the Philippians there is only one cure for the
flaw of selfishness, and it is not the blood of Christ. His blood
atoned for this sin, but His death did not eliminate it in believers.
He is writing to men who are already saved, but they are still selfish,
and they still face all the potential evils of selfishness. Paul says the
answer is not the blood of Christ, but the mind of Christ. He says,
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."
You can be saved by the blood of Christ, but still be selfish
because you are not controlled by the mind of Christ. Only the mind
of Christ in us can enable us to be selfless rather than selfish. It was
the mind of Christ that thought of Christmas, and made all that
Christmas means a reality. It didn't just happen, it was planned and
carried out by that unique mind of the Master as the most selfless
act of love in all of history. The only way we can properly prepare
for Christmas, and enter into the Christmas spirit is to let the mind
of Christ dwell in us. Only as we have His mind can we be selfless
rather than selfish.
This passage of Paul's is one of the most profound in all the New
Testament, and yet it is so simple. It deals with the basic realities of
life and God's plan. It consists of a simple exhortation, and a
sublime example, and we want to examine each of them.
I. THE SIMPLE EXHORTATION.
Paul says in verse 4, "Don't look only at your own interests, but
consider the interests of others also." There is nothing profound
about that, but giving heed to it can profoundly change your life.
The fact is, we must be perpetually freeing ourselves from the jail of
self-imprisonment. Millions whom seem free are in the solitary
confinement of their own self-interest. Someone said, "You can pick
out entertainers by the glazed look that comes into their eyes when
the conversation wonders away from themselves." We don't have to
look to famous people to find selfishness, however, for we need only
look at our own lives to discover that even the good things we do are
selfish in part.
I have given money to Bethel College and Seminary, not just
because I think it is a great school deserving of support, but also
because I wanted to be on the list of loyal alumni. I have given to