Facing Our Selfish Nature

Facing Our Selfish Nature

Sister Miki Terayama - 16 May 2021

Weekend Devotion: Facing Our Selfish Nature

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For the longest time, I have been struggling with an accusation within myself and that is my selfish nature. Personally, I am quite an introvert and I tend to enjoy staying home or just hanging out with people I am comfortable with. If I overwhelm myself with too many social gatherings, I get very cranky and exhausted at the end of the day. And that may lead me to taking it out on my loved ones in frustration. Of course, selfishness is not uncommon to men. It is a trait we all have, some of us portray it lesser or with lower intensity, but for some of us, it could have a prolonged negative impact as we continue doing so. But regardless of whether you are at which side of the scale, selfishness is destructive nonetheless. It can even disguise itself in many different forms to hide away its true intent, sometimes, even cherry picking from God’s truth to justify ourselves. So without the right way of looking or dealing with it, it will grow its roots deeper and deeper into our living and cripple our faith.

The Innate Tendency To Self Exalt

The thing about selfishness is that at the moment when it happens, you are very self-justified. You have all the rationales and reasons to support your opinion or stand, and to put down the opposing party’s views. Sometimes, it could seem like you have good and legitimate reasons, while other times, it could really make no sense but we just want to have our say or our way. However, just from this itself, we can see that it is our human pride at work, our tendency to exalt ourselves, and it is a fact that we are all pride-driven creatures. Why so? Because since we are born into this world, we are the source of our own goodness. We crave, we desire, we strive, we gain. To defy or lay down our pride first seems like we are losing out. An example that is dear to my heart is my children. Sometimes, when my daughter misbehaves and it causes me inconvenience like spilling her milk on the floor, I immediately act up and say things like “How can you do this?”, “Can’t you hold the cup properly?” even before I hear her explain herself. I was selfishly thinking about having so much to do, and now I have added things to clean up, but not about understanding why it happened or how she felt. Needless to say, it has caused her more frustration and screaming, and the damage control took long.

Not the act, but the heart

Now the thing is, I did realise my shortfalls and I try to make amends, by holding back my frustrations or putting on a smiling face when doing house chores. But it did not last long because I was a giver in actions, but not a cheerful giver at heart. I was doing with a lot of self will and lots of inner lamentations that led to self pity and acting up to rant about how I “have already been doing this”, “can’t you appreciate more?” I was giving but I had lots of expectations to receive back, and when things don’t fall into my standards, I blow up. Took me a while, I did blow up eventually. So you see, to fight selfishness is not about first trying to change our actions, words or behaviour. It has to first reach into our hearts because everything else flows from it. Why do I need to battle this? Why am I so worked up on having my stand here? What effects has my pride had on me all these years? What would God lead me to pray over, to care about, to think of?

As we are battling our selfishness, let us search our hearts today and look into a few areas:

1. Perspective

Firstly, it is perspective. We need to recalibrate our perspective on selfishness. Many are selfish because they need to gain some things for themselves or their loved ones. But here in Philippians 2:3-8, it says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” From this verse, we need to see that selfishness within us can only be dealt with when we keep going back to having the same mind as Christ. Christ who gave Himself to be crucified for us. We can all try to be humble from time to time, but the true spiritual humility can only be produced from understanding how Jesus’ humility towards God’s plans and His selflessness for us sinners, calls us to also empty ourselves daily to be obedient to God’s leading in our dealings with people or situations.

2. Trust: Also, sometimes, we tend to insist on our ways because we do not trust another person or another situation. We want to stay guarded from wrong decisions or bad advices. Now that, in itself, has no wrong. It is important to be careful and make wise decisions. However, if it is brought to a state where we are only wanting what is best for ourselves by hurting someone (with our words or actions), or become increasingly insistent on our own ways and having no regard for others, we are creating an environment or relationship that is more and more defensive, closed up and uninviting to trust and faith.

3. God’s way or my way?: Finally, it is true that at times we need to make a stand. Like how Daniel made a stand to worship God despite King Jarius’s new law, when Moses stood up for God’s people before the Pharaoh, when Jesus insisted in preaching the word to help people meet God despite the challenges. There are times we do have to insist, you are right. But we need to ask ourselves: Am I insisting because I want things my way, or because I have abided by God’s conviction to insist on His way? Even as Jesus was struggling with His will over God’s, he submitted in the end and saw how God worked His ways beyond the cross. In Matthew 26:39, “And going a little farther Jesus fell on his face andprayed,saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Reflections for the selfish heart

Now, as we are already taking the hardest first step to acknowledging our selfish nature, and seeing how we should look within our hearts, here are a few introspecting questions and prayers we can do daily to challenge our pride and grow in the likeness of Christ’ humility.

Where does selfishness tend to attack you?
Why do you feel the need to have your way in this?

Branch out and look at what effects it might have should you have your way?

Not just the good results you desire, but the emotions of people around you? Does it affect certain relationships? Your time and reliance on God?

Have you seek the counsel of God for this matter before setting your decision or stand? If you weigh out, is God’s interest stronger or your own?

What steps or changes should I make to put up a stronger defence against my selfish nature?
This could be very well linked to the first question where we ask where selfish intentions tend to attack us. When we know that area, it is better to stay even more guarded. Like at night, when my children are asleep, I am especially particular about having “me” time to use my phone or watch some shows. It is also a heightened zone for selfishness should my plans be disrupted. So what I do now is to ensure prayers before bedtime with the family and seeing how God grows in me more self control and flexibility in using my time to finish some housework, talk to my husband or even to sleep earlier.

For you, it could be to cover that selfish zone with moments of slowing down, going back to prayers or even reflecting on past blessings and confirming the faithfulness of God. This will not only help us have more trust in God’s way over our own, soften our harden pride but also grow more love to those around us, rather than seeing them as a hassle or “sparring” partners in a battle of “who’s right?”

Brothers and sisters, our nature is a hard enemy to fight, because it is within us and comes by so easily. But in Colossians 1:29 it says, “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works in me.” Certainly, we are not able to do it or sustain it on our own. But that is precisely why Jesus is our portion, giving us strength to keep going against those selfish tendencies. As we draw near to Him as a source of healing, hope and power, He will surely help us through this journey. God bless.

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Miki Terayama
miki.terayama@gmail.com

Miki is a full-time ministry staff at The Blessed Run Ministries. She is a sister who shares a natural, God-given affinity with children and youths. She is married to Randy (NET Group Youth Leader) and has two little ones of her own, Liora and Jude. She is involved in the children, youth and social media ministries.

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