The Harlot of Selfishness

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  – Philippians 2:3

There is a harlot that lurks among us all. She begins with a smile and a glance, a batting of the eye, and seems innocent at first. She then gets closer and her fragrance fills our nostrils. Then, a soft whisper in our ear. Before we know it, she has convinced us that we can wander away with her and neglect the most precious to us. She convinces us over time to give in to our impulses and desires. This harlot goes by the name of selfishness.

She is good at her job. But she is a thief. She is the worst kind of thief because she sneaks in unnoticed. She consumes our attention and gains our trust and slowly but surely begins to steal our most precious belongings. She does this all under our noses, in plain sight, with slight of hand and distractions. She slowly but surely convinces us to neglect the things so important to us and hand it over to her willingly. She is never really satisfied however. Her desire for more grows and grows and before we realize it, we are left with an unfaithful harlot that has sold off all that we treasure. She is a harlot because she does not discriminate against who she flirts with and entices. We need to be aware of her and on guard of her evil plans.

The Bible addresses selfishness many times because it is just like a harlot and is one of those things that can creep in and obscure our view of holy living. Selfishness is rooted in self. It makes us believe that we are the most important person in our world. It convinces us that our needs and desires are far superior to others and we openly disregard others without a second thought. Selfishness is like a harlot because it convinces us that we are doing nothing wrong. It is like a harlot because it convinces us that we are to live the way of a lost world and it is absolutely ok to do so. It is like a harlot because everyone else is dancing with her, it must be ok, and we should think nothing of it.

Here is the problem with selfishness. James 3:16 says For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. Selfishness leads to disorder and vile practices. It leads us down a path we never intended to go and always much farther than we never intended to travel. It causes us to harm relationships. It leads us to be blind to the blessings God has for us when we are humble. It manifests itself in the “me first” mentality and we believe we are owed something better than anyone else. It focuses our attention on what we will get out of something, while neglecting the blessing we get when contributing for the good of others. It is a lonely pit that only leaves us empty handed in the end.

But God tells us we are more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35). What we are being told here is to consider the blessing God is to us. He has all and all has been given to us. He humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross so that we would live for Him and not ourselves. We are to follow His example in seeking the good of others. As Paul says, we are to do nothing from our selfish ambition but in humility count others more significant than ourselves. This is hard to do because our broken hearts long to do just the opposite. The way we combat selfishness is to call it what it is, a harlot. And we need to recognize how she has slipped into our lives and whispers in our ears her lies. We also need to seek the Lord’s power in fighting against her. We need to ask the Lord to entice us to His ways and away from our wicked flesh of selfishness.

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!  Psalms 119:36

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