Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #115 ---Selfishness

Quotations on Selfishness (Set No. 2)

Some men are nothing less than great human sponges, which absorb everything they touch, and if they ever give up anything it is because death squeezes them so hard they cannot help themselves.

---Madison C. Peters, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, Aug. 13, 1899.

If we live for self, we make self not worth living for.

---William T. Ellis, The Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, N.Y., June 24, 1916.

Self-concern is so largely self-deprivation.

---Burrows Matthews, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Jan. 25, 1931.


When a selfish man succeeds at becoming happy, it is only at the price of the unhappiness of others.

---Frank Crane, Clinton Advertiser, Clinton, N.Y., Feb. 15, 1908.

The backbone of sin is selfishness, and hell is selfishness on fire.

---John Elward Brown, El Paso Morning Times, El Paso, Texas, April 23, 1918.

Selfishness, after all, is a form of generosity to one’s self.

---Henry Edward Warner, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va., April 15, 1922.

One may possess a dozen sterling qualities—but if you add selfishness, they are all obliterated.

---Earl L. “Jack” Sampson, Williamson Daily News, Williamson, W. Va., Nov. 29, 1948.

As long as men struggle with the sword of selfishness, they will have no peace of heart. There is no abiding victory in life save in the loss of self.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Oct. 25, 1931.

Self-seeking tends to develop a blind spot to the most beautiful resources of the individual spiritual nature.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., May 30, 1937.

No man ever made a base, purely selfish choice, that “paid out” in the end. We are all slow to see this, and slower still to risk only the noble choice. But the Bible, all history, personal observation and experience prove that a base motive and choice are fatal. If you want to be a success, get away from self. Live for others. That is Christ’s teaching all the way through. God has an intention that truth and unselfish devotion, and a fine faith held to, shall be the very backbone of all true experience. Think with God on this point, and you shall think aright; and you shall then be “blessed, and a blessing.”

---John Grant Newman, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, Pa., May 8, 1926.

The man who revolves around himself will never get anywhere.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minn., April 13, 1901.

It is easier for water to run up hill than for a selfish man to be happy.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Hull Index, Hull, Iowa, July 9, 1897.

A selfish Christian is a contradiction in terms.

---Henry Easter, El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, Sept. 1, 1913.

Selfishness leads to no good eventually.

---Frank Hilton Greer, Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, Okla., Feb. 10, 1910.

Men who live for self never succeed in satisfying self, or in quite satisfying anybody else; men who live for others in godlike unselfishness have joy themselves while giving joy to others.

---Edward L. Millican, El Paso Herald, El Paso, Texas, Feb. 3, 1917.

Self-love is different than selfishness. Love of self is a duty, but selfishness is sin. Selfishness leads a man to think only of himself and trample upon the rights of others.

---W.G. Partridge, Bryan Democrat, Bryan, Ohio, June 3, 1910.

The heart that is devoted to self shall gradually shrink.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Oct.23, 1931.

Every sin depends upon selfishness for its popularity.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., March 31, 1932.

To live for self and spend everything upon self is to live in vain.

---J.F. Hartman, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, Aug. 16, 1896.

When a person isolates himself, and studying continuously his own troubles becomes self-absorbed and self-centered, he becomes distracted by the enormous weight of his own burden. We cannot live alone and be healthy. We need to know other people’s difficulties and joys; we need to catch from them inspiration and help, and, above all, we need to know these things in order that we may not magnify our troubles and difficulties. A self-centered life is a barren, destitute thing full of dry bones and rottenness.

---F.A. Aucock, Dakota County Herald, Dakota City, Neb., April 19, 1917.

Selfishness seems to be the complex of all vices. The love of self, when predominant, excludes all goodness and prevents all truth. It is the great enemy of individuals, societies and communities. It is the cause of all irritation, the source of all evil. People who are always thinking of themselves have no time to be concerned about others; their own pleasure or profit is the pivot on which everything turns. They cannot even conceive of disinterestedness, and will laugh to scorn all who appear to love others as well as themselves.

---Theophile Meerschaert, The Indian Advocate, Sacred Heart, Okla., December 1901.

Coming to the door of human consciousness and asking for admission in the name of the virtues of self-respect and self-esteem, the monster selfishness gains admission. It comes in the garb of an exalted opinion of one’s self, which may be a virtue to be desired. It must come under false colors in order to find a welcome because no person would willfully be selfish. It is a crime that is self-inflicting; it brings a spirit of boastfulness that disgusts and drives away friends. A close analysis of selfishness reveals it to be the mother of jealousy that destroys home and wrecks lives that would otherwise be happy. Selfishness prompted the Pharisee to stand on the street corner and thank God he was not as other men; selfishness led him to measure his own good deeds; selfishness induced him to compare his own virtues and capabilities with others with great favor to himself. We may spurn the acts of the Pharisee, we may draw our garments to one side when he passes by and at the same time we may be entertaining the same thoughts unawares.

Selfishness is developed by expectations of continuous pleasure, it tips the balances of human life toward wrong, it is the glass through which man magnifies self, and it gives us eyes through which we belittle the work and worth of others. It is a stranger to humility and does not know charity. It beguiles the employer into minimizing the position and merits of the employee, and leads the laborer to show incapacity by faultfinding with the ability and acts of the employer. It leads business men to wreck the fortunes of competitors and to worship it as superior business ability.

Selfishness finds its opposite in the milk of human kindness, in proper consideration for the feelings and worth of others, its slime is washed away by the plain common sense method of searching out a way to see ourselves as others see us.

---John F. Easley, Daily Ardmoreite, Ardmore, Okla., Feb. 21, 1915.

The cloak of religion is usually pressed into service by the man who is wrapped up in himself.

—Benjamin Arstein, San Antonio Express, San Antonio, Texas, April 19, 1911.

One ounce of self-forgetfulness is worth a ton of selfish imitation.

—Arthur Growden, The Daily Commercial Dispatch, Columbus, Miss., July 6, 1926.

One of the best medicines one can take is to practice unselfishness.

—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Aug. 2, 1949.

Selfishness makes life a square cage, and envy and greed imprison like dungeon walls.

—John Edward Carver, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Nov. 8, 1937.

Sulkiness is only selfishness turned sour.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., July 2, 1905.

It is extreme selfishness which draws boundary lines and develops ill will to such an extent as to blind the eyes of understanding.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, June 10, 1927.

Selfishness is a living death with no remedy but the new birth.

—J. Benjamin Lawrence, Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., June 22, 1916.

We must lay aside the pride and vanity of life which is always self-centered. Selfishness is always blind. There are people who care very little for human creatures outside their own narrow circle. They will sting and starve themselves for their own, but their self-denial goes no further. Selfishness puts out the eyes of the spirit.

—William P. King, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 28, 1926.

Selfishness breeds monotony and fosters the commonplace and ignoble in human action. Love, while it creates fellowship, encourages individual development. There is infinite variety in doing good, but there is distressing sameness in the manifestations.

—J.A. Lord, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 3, 1918.

Never is a man so at his best, as when forgetful of self, he loses himself in some great cause, when he identifies himself with the rights and welfare of others, and makes his name forever afterwards the synonym of the cause. All the best work of the world demands the obliteration of self-consciousness. The full tide of a personality can only pour the force of its vitality into any work when unchecked by the thought of self. When the object of the service has full possession and direction of every faculty, and no vanity pauses for a pose, and no thought of self-safety halts in timid care the expression.

—M. Ashby Jones, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., March 17, 1940.

Selfishness always brings its own revenge; it cannot be escaped.

—Julia A.F. Lund, Relief Society Magazine, Salt Lake City, Utah, February 1940.

Selfishness is ingrown eyesight: self-righteousness, ingrown soulsight.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 16, 1922.

Lust is selfishness in the robes of love.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Dec. 9, 1922.

Lust is animalistic selfishness in a state of putrefaction.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 9, 1922.

Unanswered prayers are usually songs of selfishness.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 20, 1923.

Selfishness is the root from which spring most human ills and suffering. Selfishness promises satisfaction, but its fruit is disappointment, and produces only ill-will and unhappiness.

—David O. McKay, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 13, 1945.

The test of human greatness is one who is recognized and used of God; the path of human greatness is self-sacrifice and self-abnegation. Selfishness is the law of nature; self-sacrifice is the law of grace. Self-preservation is the instinct of the carnal man, but you never yield to that law unless you despise yourself. You never do anything selfish unless you feel that you have lost some of your manhood or womanhood. Selfishness is the parent of lust and pride and avarice.

The Christian life is the reverse; it is the unselfish life, the life which enlarges, the life which makes a man noble, courageous and makes him love everybody. Every great man has lived on that plane. Courage is the power of a man mastered by a great principle. He forgets himself and has no fear. All that belongs to great nature is self-sacrifice.

The man whose passion for self is dwarfed is the great man. ... Another measure of human greatness is man's sense of obligation. Man is the only being who can say I must, and it notes a responsive spirit to the voice of God. The measure of the greatness of a soul is the measure of its responsiveness. When a man is swayed by the voice of God, he has a responsive soul.

—E.R. Hendrix, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Nov. 21, 1904.

There is a fable which may serve to introduce the subject. One day, a man, who had resisted all the charms of others, came to an open fountain of silvery clearness. As he stooped down to drink, he beheld his own image, but imagined it some beautiful water-spirit making its home there. He gazed at it a long time. He admired its features. He fell in love with (himself) it. He vainly attempted to embrace it. He vainly talked to the charmer. At last, unable to break the fascination, he pined away and died. The fable indicates the object toward which a vast deal of energy is directed, and, the certain consequence. It is self, self-love, selfishness. Selfishness is self-infatuation. Selfishness is unwarranted self-esteem. It is the isolation of self from the interests of others. Selfishness is idolatry. It is the glorification of self. Selfishness is self-debasement and self-destruction.

Selfishness assumes various forms.

It is seen in the man who elects to gratify himself regardless of the interests of others. It is pertinent in the appetites of the debaucher who means to gratify himself irrespective of wife and children. It appears in the man who is resolved to make money no matter how it affects the laboring men, the defenseless women, the helpless children. ... It is apparent in the educated man who shuts himself up with the satisfaction of mere intellectualism, content to gratify his desires for culture. It is astonishingly manifest in the egotist, whose zone of love is I, whose goal of endeavor is I, whose object of glory is I, which shamefully violates "in honor preferring one another."

Selfishness isolates one.

It dooms one to the pain and misery of loneliness. It makes friendship absolutely impossible. Selfishness and friendship are contradictory terms. He who accepts the selfish principle of life bars out of his experience the possibility of friendship. He isolates himself, aye, destroys in himself the capacity for friendship. ...

Selfishness strikes at the root of most sacred things.

In achieving its ambitions, realizing its desires, gratifying its passions, it regards the sacredness of nothing. It does not shrink from casting any sort of blight or slur upon the good name of another whose attractions or accomplishments may be eliciting attention. In the unscrupulous endeavor it will rend asunder a home and breathe misery and neglect and want through it. ... It is not the glory of Christ, but self. ... It is not the honor and good of others, but self.

—R.L. Benn, Christian Observer, Louisville, Ky., July 10, 1907.

To avoid strife and selfishness the Apostle Paul gives a very simple rule. he says: "In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves." (Philippians 2:3.) That is, have always an humbling view of yourselves, for as you know more of your own secret defects, you will naturally be led to think more favorably of others. This is but giving others credit for some honor, virtue, ability and wisdom, and not so much the exercise of big I and little you. It is only a due recognition of the fact "that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing." (Romans 7:18.)

Peter says: "Be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility, for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6.)

And surely there is no better way to gain a favorable opinion of others, and especially of the infinitely holy God, than by beginning to detect the faults and ignorance and the exceeding sinfulness of your own heart. For when, in the mirror of God's word, you are brought face to face with your soul and see it as God sees it, you will be constrained to say with Paul--though he was a Roman citizen and a Hebrew of the Hebrews--"I am less than the least of all the saints" (Ephesians 3:8); yes, and even "the chief of sinners."

Then you will begin to lose your self-righteousness and to think that surely God has made, at least a few, others better than you are, when you may be able to esteem others better than yourself.

But how is this to be done? In the fourth verse [of Philippians 2], Paul says: "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." Here you have a recognition of the principle, "Live and let live," and do not bound the interests of others entirely by your limitations.

—Mark Harris, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 19, 1900.

There is so much confused thinking about selfishness and self love that we had better try to get it sorted out. The trouble with us is that we do not distinguish between selfishness and self love.

Distinction does exist. True Christian love is never selfish. Selfishness and self love are contradictory. Jesus made it clear that we ought to love ourselves when He was asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" He replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 22:36-37, 39.)

It seems to mean that you cannot love your neighbor as you ought to love him unless you know how to love yourself. Love has been well defined as devotion to the ends of God in a human personality. Self love then is devotion to the ends of God in my own personality If love for myself is of that quality, I will work to become what God means me to be. I will have a sense of direction in my life. I will impose discipline upon myself. I will, with God's help, develop the powers that God has entrusted to me. I must care enough for myself to develop my powers to well as possible, which cannot be called a selfish ambition, I must serve them with my best self.

Jesus says that if I do not truly love myself, I cannot truly love my neighbor. Unless I am devoted to the ends of God in my own personality, I cannot be devoted to the ends of God in my neighbor's personality. If I love myself aright, I shall desire for my neighbor what I desire for myself--not necessarily the same things, for they might be useless to him, but I shall desire for him whatever will help him to find his own complete self-fulfillment.

Here then is the heart of the matter, true self love look outward, selfishness never does. A selfish person is interested only in self, wants everything for himself, feels no pleasure in giving, but only in taking. The world outside is looked at only from the standpoint of what he can get out of it. He lacks interest in the needs of others and respect for their dignity and integrity.

Love, however, cannot be measured by intensity of feeling. Indeed/ for any particular neighbor I may have no strong feeling of affection, but I can take all practical steps within my power to secure for my neighbor what I want or ought to want for myself--the opportunity for the true Christian fulfillment. Love has an objective end--the securing or advancement of the welfare of others. True love, therefore, will have great concern with the means to the proper end. Concern with the means involves the will to know that which must be managed if the desired end is to be achieved. Love must discover at what points and in what ways it can most effectively insert itself into the loves of others.

If true Christian self love is devotion to the ends of God in and for my own personality, I shall not spoil myself. I shall through the disciplines of prayer, meditation, Bible study and Christian service try by the power of the Holy Spirit to become what God means me to be. I will then, as a fruit of my self love, be devoted to the end of God in the lives of others.

—James H. Landes, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 6, 1980.

The world is full of sick people. The number one disease in this country is a disease I choose to call selfishness.

It is a mighty easy thing to become intrigued with self. Those who have will admit that this is a one-way street. The symptoms of this disease are discontentment and unhappiness. Our world becomes so little that God's purpose cannot be seen. We lose sight of the horizons that challenge us and the call of adventure slowly fades into the distant hills. The horizons that challenge are still there and the echo of adventure still calls, but we can neither see nor hear. We have become infected with ourselves.

The most miserable people in the world are those who feel only their hurts and remember only their disappointments and are interested only in their own victories. ...

The most difficult mountain to climb is the mountain of selfishness. The person who conquers himself stands ready to serve a needy world. ...

The road of selfishness will eventually bring us to the house of self-pity. Here we lament the misery of our hearts. In such a condition we often get the feeling that no one really cares about us and the world has been unfair to us. We pull down the shades, close the doors, turn out the lights and curse the darkness. One would think that here is a place from which there is no return.

I keep saying to people who bear heavy burdens, experience deep sorrow and face anxiety, that no situation is ever hopeless. God will never give us a task that we cannot perform if we are faithful to Him. Jesus said, "For with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27.)

—Robert V. Ozment, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 5, 1965.

Doing always only the things one likes to do is a sure road to unhappiness.

Such a course ultimately brings one to the point where he likes to do nothing.

When he reaches that point he has lost the joy of living, he is discontented with himself and estranged from others. He has become a liability to society and a fit candidate for psychological analysis.

Blessed is the man who loves his work but he must love it enough to tackle cheerfully the phases of it that are disagreeable. He must keep in mind not only his paycheck but the higher reward of satisfaction in a job well done. He must make himself his hardest taskmaster.

Intelligent cooperation with his associates will make his tough tasks lighter but such cooperation must be based on friendly relationships.

To establish such relationships he must cultivate friendliness in himself. He must have the capacity to make and keep friends.

That requires unselfishness, an interest in the other fellow's problems, less thought of self and more regard for others.

But a man naturally is selfish. So considers only his own interests he will avoid sacrifice and self-discipline and finally be without friends.

He needs a code of ethics or conduct that will teach him to overcome his natural impulses and fit himself into the social fabric.

Religion provides that code and fixes his hopes and ambitions upon a more distant goal. Self-sacrifice is the heart of all great religions.

Jesus Christ, the ideal of unselfishness, and the great exponent of the unselfish life, was an extrovert. He went about doing good. Some of the things He did offended the religionists of that day but He did them. He expressed the high code of unselfishness in the golden rule: "As ye would that men should do to you do ye also to them likewise."

—Harry C. Withers, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 29, 1939.

Too much thought of self, too much introspection, too much avoidance of others leads to isolation and unhappiness. Religion, giving man an objective outside of himself, turns his thoughts toward others.

—Harry C. Withers, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 9, 1939.

Selfishness and covetousness go hand in hand. Covetousness seeks the aid of false pretense to rob others, and what it cannot steal, it takes by force; but selfishness is the underlying incentive. Selfishness views the faults of others through the wrong end of the telescope and makes us admire our own dear selves. Selfishness is causing more pain, anxiety and suffering than all other evils combined. It is the mother of vice, bigotry and prejudice.

—Lee Ziegler, The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., March 2, 1899.

Selfishness carries as its own undesirable prize the greatest disappointment life affords. Fortunate is the one who sees the deception of selfishness far enough in advance to evade the bitter conclusion that is forced upon those who continue in ignorance of its noisome fruitage. Facing the phantom of death and drawing back in dismay at its unwelcome invitation to follow the road of suffering even to the brink of the unknown, is a hard fate for one engrossed in its material selfishness.

There is a strange deceptiveness in selfishness. One possessing it, or being possessed of it, is not apt to sense his own contamination without a careful and studied analysis.

—D.T. Williams, Zion's Ensign, Lamoni, Iowa, Feb. 28, 1929.

A selfish aim has no place in spiritual building. If the end of our labor is the accomplishment of an altruistic objective, the type of our structure will be one in which God will be able and willing to make His habitation. He who strives for personal reward and makes that his aim, cheapens his religion and weakens his spiritual structure.. He only builds himself a shack in which he might exist and in which there is no abiding place for God.

—Thomas S. Williams, Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, April 1926.

When working for others sink yourself out of sight, seek their interest. Make yourself necessary to those who employ you, by industry, fidelity and scrupulous integrity. Selfishness is fatal.

—Henry Ward Beecher, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 6, 1901.

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