We live in a world that actively encourages us to be self-centered. We’re regularly bombarded with commercials and slogans telling us, “You deserve a me day!”, “Treat yourself!”, or “Do what feels right by you!” While there’s nothing wrong with practicing a little self-care, this mindset can quickly lead us into a life of selfishness. Jesus did not call his followers to live for themselves. Rather, he commanded them to pursue lives of humility and service.
The Bible is filled with verses which can help believers combat a self-seeking lifestyle. They encourage us to take a heavenly approach toward the world, and see ourselves through Heaven’s eyes. We may be flawed creatures, but with Christ’s help we can become new creations. First though, we must put aside all selfish ambition and vain conceit.
If you ever find yourself struggling with pride or personal ego, take a moment to reflect on these 10 verses:
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1. James 4:1-2
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.”
Envy can destroy a happy heart. How many friendships have been ruined because someone wanted what another had, or worse, thought they deserved it more? Stop looking at your neighbor with jealous eyes. Rather, look at your own life and try counting the blessings God has given you.
2. Hebrews 13:15-16
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased”
God is not impressed by fast cars and fancy clothing, what he desires is a faithful heart. When we share with others and treat our neighbors with kindness, we reflect the light of Christ into their lives. The Kingdom of God is not built on silver or gold, but with the selfless actions of his disciples. Whether it grows any bigger is up to us.
3. Romans 15:1-2
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
Jesus taught his disciples that the greatest commandment was to love God. The second was to love our neighbor. The gospel message isn’t spread through politics or popular trends, it’s shared one person at a time. How can we hope to be an effective witness if we’re too wrapped up in ourselves? Now is the time to get out of your own way. Step outside and meet your neighbor.
4. Acts 20:35
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
A selfish heart believes you’ll only be satisfied once you get what you want. It tries to fill a God-shaped hole with money, fame, and possessions. God’s word turns this message on its head. It says that only a generous heart can find true happiness, because when we give away ourselves we make more room in life for Jesus.
5. Luke 9:23
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’”
Being a Christian is ultimately a journey into self-denial. It means putting aside our wants and needs to follow the path Jesus walked before us. The Bible tells us that we must pick up our cross daily and follow him, and this is no simple feat. We cannot carry our cross and hold onto the things of this world at the same time. One of them must be left behind.
6. James 4:14
“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Everything fades, even us. One day that expensive smartphone of yours will be considered an antique. That money you accrued will be gone, or gathering dust in some lonely bank vault. Even those of us who feel strong and healthy will soon be stooped and wrinkled. In the end, the only thing that will matter is how we lived our lives. Let’s make sure we spend this time on what matters.
7. Matthew 19:21
“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’”
There’s a reason Jesus told his disciples it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. When we put our faith in money, we will surely fail. Money can be spent, or lost, or stolen. We snatch it up only for it to disappear. The things of God are not based on physical wealth, and they can never be taken away from us.
8. Hebrews 13:2
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
J.R.R. Tolkien knew the power of hospitality. The Hobbit begins with many different people seated around a table sharing a meal, and by the tale’s end, they realize just how valuable that moment was. One character even laments that, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. Try opening your doors to others. You may just discover wealth you never knew existed.
9. 2 Corinthians 8:9
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich."
A Christian author once said that if we wanted to truly understand God’s sacrifice, we had to stop thinking in human terms. We had to imagine what it would be like for a human being to become a leech, or an insect, then we would know what it meant for God to become human. The Lord has shown us unimaginable grace, and made us rich in spirit. Next to that, all other wealth is pales in comparison.
10. 1 Timothy 6:18
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
The Bible does not say, “They will know that we are Christians by our fancy houses and golden gates.” It says they will recognize us for our good works. Our Christian witness is worth more than any commercial product. What God offers is a life that is radically changed by his amazing grace, and that is what should set us apart in society. Try to live in such a way that when the world looks at you they don’t see a brand of clothing, they see a follower of Jesus.