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The Selfish Nature of Man
Selfishness is human nature. It's something that's in everyone. It's clearly obvious in some, yet palliating in others. It’s at the core of man to be selfish. This isn’t the ideal state for man, God didn’t create man this way; man wasn’t always selfish—man became selfish.
The generality of the human race, being identified with Adam, became selfish and self-centered when they got detached from their source—their creator—in the Garden of Eden. And this leaves nobody out of the equation because we’re all connected to Adam.
The thing is that too many people, and you might be one of them, keep on this naïve idea and unrealistic notion that people are, somehow or another, going to selfless, thinking of them first and allowing them have their way all the time. This kind of thinking will always hurt the one who harbors it. You need a personal revelation to make you free from the impending hurt that accompanies such naive thinking.
How Did it All Start?
Man was not created with selfishness. They became selfish. They took in a nature that was contrary to God’s nature of love when they fell in the Garden of Eden. Hence, they have a fixed mental attitude that counteracts with God’s nature of love.
If you examine the principle of source and resource, as propounded by Myles Munroe in his book, The Spirit of Leadership, you’d notice that it says:
“A thing consists of the same material of which it came and must remain attached to its source in order to live and maximize its potentials.”
Now, it’s as a result of man defying this principle that resulted in his deranged status. This resulted in a mental anomaly. He (man) left his source of God when he rebelled by doing what God said not to and from then on, it’s been God trying to get him back to that mental state that he had in the beginning period of his existence. That’s the state he was in Genesis chapter 1 and chapter 2.
But in Genesis chapter 3, in the 12th verse, we see man’s first act of selfishness, where Adam was accusing his wife of being the reason for his act of rebellion against God.
You see, anytime you detach something from its source, things go wrong. As a matter of fact, it either malfunctions or it dies. That’s why all of a sudden, after the fall, Adam began to show a deranged, self-centered nature by accusing Eve of being the reason for his act of rebellion against God when he ate the forbidden fruit.
It’s Human Nature
Would it be wrong to say all of man’s actions are all driven by selfishness? Absolutely not! In fact, there are some folks whom you’ll would consider as altruists, but really, many of them are so because they want people to know and extol them as such. It’s a form of self-aggrandizement. But it’s the good side.
The good feeling of being regarded as such and being greatly revered by people is actually the motivating factor behind many people’s altruistic lifestyle. It inflates the ego.
You might ask, “what if it’s the desire to please a higher authority like God that’s the motivating factor behind their selflessness. What if it’s not their own personal desire that’s motivating them?” Well, you know God could be the greater influence in the life of such folks, and the reason why they can be so selfless isn’t necessarily because of people per se, but because of their passion to please God, they have to fulfill God’s requirement, which is to love people (1 John 5:1)
However, the main deal here isn’t to please people, but to please God, hence it’s a God-focused, self-centered action, spilling over in love for people. That’s the good side of selfishness.
The Good Side of Selfishness
There’s a spiritual sense of satisfaction that accompanies selflessness. World renowned Motivational Speaker, Tony Robbins, puts it this way, “Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life's deepest joy; true fulfillment”.
Jesus of Nazareth explains the same concept this way in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I call it the good side of selfishness. A ‘selfish’, wise person who wants to be blessed will go for the ‘more blessing’ part, and thus choose the good side of selfishness by sacrificing his gratification in the now, to gain something in the future. But a myopic, unwise, fellow will choose to satisfy his immediate gratifications, only to gain nothing in the future.
It’s the good side of selfishness that makes a manufacturer make a product that’ll go on to benefit humanity all in the quest to gain profit. It’ll behoove us to note that in the good side of selfishness, we’re selfless first, and then we can go on to be ‘selfish’ next, receiving the reward for our labor. Also, in the good side of selfishness, people are willing to give to you for your sacrifice of selflessness and you don’t have to force them. But on the other side of selfishness, people aren’t willing and that results in forcing or threatening them.
In the good side of selfishness, gratification is sacrificed for a chance of greater, future pleasure or fulfillment. As a result of that, we can see that all actions are geared towards selfishness. They’re used as tools for increasing pleasure or decreasing pain, even those defined as altruistic.
For example, we can see the case of a manufacturer who does something that will benefit humanity, and in the long run, is rewarded by gaining some profit from his act of benevolence. God also wants us to gain something from our act of benevolence which we show by our love deeds.
Sure enough, the Bible says love does not seek its own (1 Corinth. 13:5). However, love does get its own. Anyone who sets out to walk selflessly in love will certainly wind up getting things like happiness and satisfaction. That’s the kingdom path to joy and fulfillment.
Apparently, joy and fulfillment is hidden in the good side of selfishness. Where we pour out ourselves into the world and have joy and inner fulfillment as a reward. For instance, it’s recorded that Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross because of the joy that was set before him as a gift for his selfless service (Heb. 12:2).
People Don’t Care
You’ve probably heard this saying: “People don’t care how much you know until that know how much you care.” Well that describes the selfish nature of people. But the interesting thing is that God agrees to that statement. In 1 Corinth. 13:2, it says, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be?” (NLT). The KJV of this verse ends like this, “I am nothing.”
That implies that to be really something in the world, to be a true success, to be a really good and significant person on the earth, you have to be out there for people. How much you’re able to cater to the selfish nature of people, what people need is to the extent that you’re going to be ‘something’ in the world.
Even God wants you to be out there for people, satisfying their selfish cravings. And when you do, in the long run, you benefit yourself by being rewarded by God and people. That’s the kind of selfishness that God desires from you, where you’re out there for people first, then you’re rewarded for it. Jesus gave us an example of doing something as little as quenching someone’s thirst with a cup of water, he said, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” You see, there’s a reward for self for every act of selflessness.
This kind of selfishness is one that is consistent with the will of God; it’s for the good of others; and it isn’t wrong. So whether you’re out there for people or yourself, you’re only being selfish. But a wise man will align himself with the kind of selfishness that God desires.
© 2017 Matthew Joseph