Summary: This sermon deals with being selfless as apposed to selfish in our personal lives.
Selfish or Selfless
Back in 2013, the word of the year was “selfie”. It seems with the advent of the smart phone and even some of the latest flip phones, we have fallen in love with taking our own picture.
The word selfie makes me think of the character from Greek mythology named Narcissus.
Narcissus was so beautiful that everyone who saw him fell in love with him. He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him.
Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image.
Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one's physical appearance. (Wikipedia)
Now I’m not saying that everyone who takes a selfie is a narcissist. Taking a picture of yourself has been the cool thing to do for several years now.
But declaring selfie the word of the year speaks to a deeper problem within our society.
The idea of looking out for number one or being self-absorbed is nothing new. If you look at the root cause of the fall of man, selfishness played a major role.
Genesis 3:6 says when Eve saw that the fruit of the tree was “to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat it.”
Satan appealed to her vanity, her yet undiscovered narcissistic nature, and it has been downhill for the human race ever since.
We live in a society that still panders to this basic nature of selfishness.
It’s a known fact that advertising works. If the hunting company that I worked for didn’t advertise they would have gone out of business.
The goal of our advertising was to convince the hunter that the only way he would be successful on the hunt was if he used our products.
If the hunter did not desire to be successful, we would have nothing to tempt him with.
Why does a hunter desire the biggest buck in the woods? Certainly not for the meat, doe meat tastes much better than buck.
Some desire the personal satisfaction of being a good hunter. But if that were the only desire, taxidermists would go out of business.
After being around, and working with, some of the most successful hunters in north America, I think I can say with authority that much of what they do is for bragging rights.
Get five of these guys in a room together and within ten minutes it is a contest to see who can tell the biggest hunting story.
So our advertising appealed to the hunters desire to be successful, and the majority of the time, his desire for success is driven by his desire for recognition (for the trophy hunter).
Just take a close look at most advertising today and you will see at its core is the self-interest of the customer.
From McDonalds “you deserve a brake today” to Cadillac’s “you deserve to ride in luxury”, advertising appeals to the ego.
When I was taking psychology classes in college, one of the clinical terms that stuck in my head was “ego centric,” the idea that the world revolves around you.
No offence to any of our youth, but this phenomenon is most prominent in teenagers. However, most people tend to grow out of it by their mid to late 70’s.
Most, if not all, of the ills of society can be traced back to a selfish heart. Murder, robbery, cheating, abortion, rudeness, and on and on…
The sad truth is that a sinful fallen world panders to this nature within all of us. So what is the solution for selfishness, how do we deal with a self-centered world?
Well, the opposite of selfish is selfless.
The most selfless act in the history of the world happened a little over 2000 years ago. Jesus, the son of God, co-equal with God, the person through which the entire universe was created and is sustained, willingly stepped down from the right hand of God the Father to be born in a stable and laid in a feeding trough.
In a world that is and was totally self absorbed, Jesus, the Christ, became the most selfless person throughout all of God’s creation.
Then he went on to live a selfless life, teaching His followers to be servants of each other. Jesus teaches us that, “whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” Matt 20:26
It won’t be long before you start seeing Christmas advertisements. Some of the stores like Hobby Lobby probably already have Christmas trees out in the front of their store. I sometimes wonder what happened to Halloween and Thanks Giving…