If there is one disposition or attitude we can name as a major cause of conflicts and disputes between men, selfishness or self-centredness will come easily to most minds.
When we go right back to the first sin committed by mankind in Genesis 3, we see that self-centredness was the core reason why Adam and his Eve gave in.
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen 3:4-5).”
The serpent suggested to them that God was petty and selfish. What they should really do was to put themselves at the centre—“ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Since that day when our first parents listened to the lie of the devil, mankind has been steeped in self-centredness. Bible history is replete with human selfishness. Secular history simply affirms what the Bible.
Humanism is the dominant philosophy of the world. According to dictionary.com, humanism “is a variety of ethical theory or practice that emphasises reason, scientific enquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God (emphasis mine).”
Humanists and atheists can be altruistic people, no doubt. Despite their arguments, they really do not reject objective moral values. They understand that without objective moral values, there can be no proper standard to determine right and wrong, good and evil.
Yet without God, whose nature is the reference point for objective moral values, it is left to each individual to subjectively determine what is good or bad behaviour—and no society can survive on that subjective standard.
Self-centredness is often frowned upon; it is universally considered ungracious social behaviour. We arrive at that conclusion using right reason or common sense.
We ought to use reason in our search for truth. Without the proper use of reason, it is impossible to think carefully and examine objectively any available evidence. God wants us to use our reason.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa 1:18).”
Science is “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws.” (dictionary.com)
Science observes and collates facts; science explores and discovers the wonders of this natural world we live in. Science, however, is limited to the natural. The supernatural is beyond its scope.
Science can observe both self-centred and altruistic behaviours as well as their effects on societies but science cannot determine its morality—whether it is right or wrong according to an objective moral standard.
The Bible explains that man is created for the glory and pleasure of God (Isa 43:7; Psa 86:12; 1Co 10:31). “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Rev 4:11).”
When we reject God and place self at the centre, as Adam and Eve did, we invite into our lives a host of unnecessary pains, conflicts, quarrels, and disputes.
This “me, myself and I-first” mentality places heavy strain on any relationship, ultimately leading to heartaches. Many a marriage breakdowns can be traced to either one or both spouses placing self as more important than the other.
In our interaction with one another, Paul gives us a set of instructions on how we can keep self-centredness at bay. It is to do the very opposite.
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others (Php 2:1-4).”
Self-centredness is at heart a form of idolatry. It places self where God should be—at the centre. It makes self the reason for living.
It takes courage and humility to let go of self and trust God and His will for us. We hold on desperately to self, afraid of what we will lose if we did let go. Our Father wants us to trust Him and let Him work in our lives.
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Eph 5:20-21).”
When we obey God and seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Mat 6:33) in obeying His word, we find the true reason for our existence. True peace follows as a result.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecc 12:13).”