You can recognize them pretty quickly; the people who are only around to see what they can get from a situation. They want to know what is in it for them. When they first meet you they size you up to see if they can get anything from you. “How is this person going to help me? What can I get from them?” They are takers, always taking and rarely giving; when they do give, it is with the expectation that they will get something in return.
Who am I talking about? Just about everyone! Selfishness is the common way of living on this sin-darkened planet, but it is not the way of Christ or of His true followers. Jesus is exactly the opposite of selfishness. When He sees people, He sizes up the situation to see how He can be a blessing to as many people as possible. He always sought to leave places better than He found them (Matthew 9:35; Luke 9:6;). This is how Jesus lived His life every moment of every day.
What do I mean by selfishness? To act selfishly is “…that supreme self-love or self-preference, which leads a person in his actions to direct his purposes to the advancement of his own interest, power or happiness, without regarding the interest of others. Selfishness, in its worst or unqualified sense, is the very essence of human depravity, and it stands in direct opposition to benevolence, which is the essence of the divine character. As God is love, so man, in his natural state, is selfishness.” (Selfishly, Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
Seeking Their Own
Jesus said, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7:18). Many people seek to build themselves up, even at the expense of others. The Bible says, “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).
God’s character of love is different. The Bible describes love like this: “Charity [Godly love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5). Love does not seek her own. Love seeks to benefit others. This is in contrast to those who are selfish, who seek to benefit themselves. Selfishness is a sad, lonely party, because, if this is you, you are the only one you are trying to benefit, and this often hurts those around you and leaves you lonely and hurting. Hurting people hurt people, so I feel sorry for the people who hurt others because I know they are hurting. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (John 10:11-13). An hireling is someone whose primary interest is what they can get for themselves. “…an hireling looketh for the reward of his work” (Job 7:2). In contrast to this Jesus is the good shepherd who gives His life for us: His sheep.
Speaking of hirelings in the church, the Bible says, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money…” (Micah 3:11). Sadly, many church leaders are in it for the money. They may have started out with good intentions, but far too many have become victim of the root of all evil, “the love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10).
A startling warning is given to this class of people. The Bible says, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Ezekiel 34:2-6). That is what happens when church leaders are in it for the money.
Fortunately, God promised, “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out” (Ezekiel 34:11). God said, “I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick…” (Ezekiel 34:15, 16). That is a beautiful promise, and in love God permits us to participate in this work. Jesus said of Himself, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). This is the work of all true followers of Christ who love without any selfish motive; they have no desire to get something in return.
Losing Your Life
Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:24). Those who selfishly seek how they can build up themselves, and benefit themselves, will lose their lives in the long run. It is so much better to lose our lives now for Jesus sake, for only then will we find true happiness and eternal life.
Endeavoring to turn our attention to eternal things, Jesus admonished, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:31-34). Seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness will be more satisfying than if we could gain all the temporary riches of this world (Matthew 5:6; Ecclesiastes 5:10; Isaiah 2:20).
The Bible is full of instructions for us to live to serve others. Jesus said, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Our Lord and Master lived a life of service, even in the humble work of washing the feet of the objects of His love (John 13:4-17). Jesus “died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
The Bible says, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Our lives are to be spent in the pursuit of the benefit of others. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me” (Romans 15:1-3).
Paul wrote, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33). The salvation and blessings of others brings the highest satisfaction to all those who are filled with the love of God. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4).
The Bible says, “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” (Philippians 2:3, 4). “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Paul wrote, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (2 Corinthians 12:15). God’s children are willing to be spent in service for others without any expectation of being paid back for our service. When we have done all that God asks of us we say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
No Earthly Reward
Jesus said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” (Luke 6:31-35).
God wants us to give “hoping for nothing” in return. Even if we know that in the end we are lost, we will still serve God because it is the right thing to do, and it is the most fulfilling no matter what. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). Serving God and others without hoping for anything in return is the true sign of the unselfish love of God in our hearts.
Jesus said, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:12-14).
Jesus is asking us to purposely do good to people who can’t pay us back so we do not get any earthly benefit. If you are one of those who have lived a life of continual service, and you are always the one who is giving while everyone around you just takes and takes, don’t lose heart, for that is exactly what Jesus said to do. Keep up the good work! “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
I used to think that the opposite of love is hate, but I have come to learn that the opposite of love is selfishness. Love is demonstrated by giving. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Love gives, selfishness takes. God loved the world; not the evil in the world, but the people He created in His own image (Genesis 1;26, 27).
We are also called to love others (Mark 12:29-31; Romans 13:8-10). Yet, we often get things mixed up and place our love on things instead of people. You should use things and love people, but many have it backwards and love things and use people. Our love should be focused on God and all the people around us instead of on how we can benefit ourselves. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Don’t fall in love with the things you can acquire in this life, for Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
Love for God and others is what we need, but this cannot be generated by ourselves. The Bible says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8). Love is of God and will only come to those who are born of God and who know God. These are both essential to our ability to love others. (For further study on this topic please request a free copy of the booklets, The Source of Love, and You Must be Born Again).
The Bible says, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). This love that identifies God’s children has no taint of selfishness in it. When you have this kind of love you can know for sure that you have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13) for this love cannot be self-generated.
Sometimes people have a selfish motive when they pray for others; such as asking God to change something about someone else so the person praying can feel better. Instead of praying for others to benefit ourselves, we should pray for ourselves to be in a place where the actions of others do not determine whether we are okay or not. Jesus never prayed from a place of selfishness, and He did not let the applause nor the rejections of others determine His status with God (John 2:23-25 “commit” is to “trust” or “believe”). Jesus always prayed for others for the purpose of benefiting them rather than Himself (John 17:19). When the soldiers who had beaten him began pounding nails through His broken and bruised body, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This is also how Jesus’ followers pray (Acts 7:60), for their lives are motivated by pure, unselfish love (1 Peter 1:22; 1 Timothy 1:5).
When God’s incredible love is the motivation for everything you do, your life will change dramatically. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). God’s love causes you to be “moved with compassion” for everyone you meet (Matthew 9:36; 14:14; Mark 10:21). Actions springing from deep, heartfelt, unselfish love for others are not drudgery, but delightful (Psalm 40:8). The happiest people in the world are those whose lives are fully surrendered to the One who loves unconditionally.
The Source of All
Our ability to love others is dependent upon our ability to receive love from God. The Bible illustrates this using comfort, but the same is true with love. “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4). We are comforted so that we can comfort others with that same comfort we receive. The same principle applies to love (1 John 4:7-19). We love others based upon the amount of love we receive from God.
The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Every good thing comes from our heavenly Father; Everything! “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Father is the source of all things, and His “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17), is the channel of all blessings.
How to Get Love
Jesus cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39). The living water Jesus wants to flow through us is “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:2). If you want to be a giver instead of a taker, you must be connected to the source of all love (Galatians 5:22). Jesus is the vine, and we “are the branches,” “He that abideth in me, and I in him,” said Jesus, “the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
God is the source, and Jesus is the channel of the wonderful Gift of “the Spirit of your Father” (Matthew 10:20). After Jesus “was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Romans 6:4), He went to be “by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:33). Paul wrote, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:5, 6).
All blessings come to us from the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. The gift of God’s Spirit is the greatest gift to enable us to thrive while we live in this sin-stained world. This is the only way we can comprehend God’s love for us (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Corinthians 2:14), which will result in God’s love shining out to those around us (1 John 4:7, 8). Jesus said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5).
You can have this gift right now, for Jesus said it is free and all you have to do is ask and believe. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13; Mark 9:23). When you receive this gift you have a new power in your life that was not available before, “The Spirit of your Father” coming to you “through Jesus Christ” allows you to have “both the Father and the Son” (Matthew 10:20; 1 Timothy 3:6; 2 John 1:9; John 14:23). With this gift in you all of heaven is on your side, and the power of the Highest is able to “keep you from falling” (Jude 1:24).
Paul prayed to God, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).
God wants you to be 1) strengthened with might by His Spirit, so that 2) Christ may dwell in your heart by faith, so that 3) you can be rooted and grounded in love and 4) comprehend how deeply Christ loves you, so that 5) you can be filled with all the fullness of God. That is incredible! What a privilege! When this is a reality in you, “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” makes you “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2). This can happen right now by faith. Believe it for you at this moment and don’t stop believing it. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). (For deeper insight into the wonderful gift of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in you, request a free copy of Christ in You.)
Friends, God is inviting you to participate in His wonderful plan to make all things new in you right now. He loves you “with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). Don’t delay, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). I know that God has the power to transform your life and make it so much more fulfilling and wonderful than you have ever imagined. He did this for me and I have never regretted it for a moment. I was a lost sinner going to hell, but God rescued me from a drug party and filled me with “everlasting joy” that has caused me to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (Isaiah 51:11; 1 Peter 1:8). (To read my testimony of how God delivered me from drugs, request a free copy of Rescued from Addiction.)
There are too many takers in this world. Be different! Be the change! You can be a giver by partaking of God’s free gift to you. Jesus “came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11, 12).
Please read the included God’s Love Letter to You. Be blessed beyond your biggest imagination. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10).