Summary: Serving self lies at the rood of immaturity and impedes our spiritual growth
As we move along in our survey of the books of the New Testament, we come to the book of 2 Corinthians. The theme of 2 Corinthians is opposite of the theme of 1 Corinthians. To understand 2 Corinthians you have to know that when Paul wrote his first letter to them, he was not happy. The entire book of 1 Corinthians was a scathing indictment of their self-centeredness. If there was a doctrine or practice to get wrong, the Corinthians seemed to make sure to get it wrong. Their self-centeredness left them like a bunch of babies.
1Cor 3:1-3 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
2 Corinthians is the opposite of 1 Corinthians. The Corinthians responded to Paul and had fixed their attitude. Paul wrote to them with a good deal of relief. They had gotten over themselves and had turned their hearts to God in repentance. As a result, they had grown spiritually and achieved a sense of maturity. We admire those who are mature, it could be teacher, a leader, a sports figure, a son or daughter, a teammate – people don't like babies, but a seasoned believer gives us a sense of confidence.
To the extent that we are focused on self, centered on self, our decisions are based on self interest and benefit: we are immature. Self centeredness lies at the root of immaturity.
There are those who are entirely immature, they can't help it, they are children.
There are those who are relatively immature: compared to their friends and peers, they just haven't seemed to grow up as fast as them.
There are those who are deliberately immature: they are in rebellion and refuse to grow.
There are those who are naively immature: they have not been challenged in their spiritual growth.
There are those who are immature in various aspects or areas in their personalities and need to strengthen those aspects.
There are those who have moments of immaturity.
1. Spiritual immaturity, self-centeredness, and sin go hand in hand.
To whatever extent we are immature, whenever we get into spiritual trouble, that immaturity and trouble is due to self centeredness. As you read through the Bible with an eye for immature self centeredness, you will be surprised at how often this figures into the trouble people got into spiritually.
Adam and Eve took their eyes off of God and were tempted by a self centered desire for wisdom.
Cain was self-centered and slew his brother rather than give in to God.
The people in Noah's day were self-centered and wanted to indulge self rather that turn to God.
Noah got into trouble after the flood when he was self centered and got drunk.
Nimrod was self centered and wanted to build a tower in rebellion to God.
The Israelites were more concerned about their own safety rather than trust God (Who had already proven Himself) and that generation died in the wilderness.
Moses ultimately was more concerned about his own frustration and struck the rock the second time rather than obey God.
Saul's self-centeredness drove him mad and caused him to continually hunt David.
David fell to lust in his self centeredness and turned to murder to cover it up.
Solomon served his own lusts and it overpowered his wisdom and his kingdom was condemned.
All the problems of the kings of Israel and Judah were due to self-centeredness.
You can read about all the problems of the Israelites in the prophets and you hear one indictment of self centeredness.
Jesus likened Peter to Satan and told him to get behind him because he didn't savor the things of God.
Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ and acted only in his own self interest.
We could go on and on. We should get the idea that acting out of self-centeredness is something that we need to be extremely wary of!
Before getting in to 2 Corinthians, Paul set the tone for the remedy in 1 Corinthians 13. So many couples will take a Scripture reading from there and then proceed to prove that they have no idea of what they just read.
1Cor 13:1-8 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.