Everyone wants their relationships to soar. I know I do. If you are anything like me, you want your relationships to continue to grow and ride the winds. There is one thing that keeps our relationships grounded and without the hope of taking off.
This one thing that destroys our relationships is not a foreign concept to us. In fact, we are intimately acquainted with it. It creeps in, and before you know it, our relationships are ruptured and ruined. This one thing spreads like cancer and destroys the healthy cells of our relationships. It is responsible for driving people away from us rather than bringing them near. This one thing assassinates trust, annihilates intimacy and asphyxiates love. I believe if we can conquer this one thing, all of our relationships will soar where only eagles dare to fly.
The One Thing That Keeps Your Relationships from Soaring
Nothing keeps our relationships from ascending to God-ordained heights like SELFISHNESS. Simply put, selfishness is a self-centred concern for oneself, without due regard to the needs of others. Selfishness is one of the characteristics of our old nature (Ephesians 2:3). But, Jesus died on the cross so we should no longer live to and for ourselves, but for him who died for us (2 Corinthians 5:15). All kinds of greed (Luke 12:13-21), unhealthy ambition (Philippians 2:3), and boasting about who we are and what we have (Daniel 4:30), are expressions of selfishness.
Selfishness is a Repellant
When we are selfish, like Elijah, we tend to think we are the only ones left (1 Kings 18:22). As we can see with the example of Elijah, one of the manifestations of the sin of selfishness is personal pity parties, where the guest of honor is ourselves. Selfish people spend their precious time feeling sorry for themselves and endlessly whining about how crappy their lives are. Believe me; nobody wants to be around people like this.
Thus, selfishness is a repellant. The more you think and talk about yourself, the more others will dislike being around you. Someone has said that if you want to be interesting to other people, you must be interested in other people. If you want to be boring and annoying, spend time focusing on yourself. Turning inward will never result in human flourishing.
Signs of Selfishness in Your Relationship
The signs that we are too selfish for a relationship are many, but here are a few that are clearly noticeable:
- Your spouse or significant other prioritize “me” over “we.”
- Your spouse or significant other sabotage your success.
- He/she doesn’t listen to you – really listen to you. Your partner waits for you to stop talking so he can make his point.
- They are always talking about themselves and never ask how you are doing.
- They get upset and have hurt feelings if you don’t make them the center of your universe.
- You have to beg your spouse or significant other to do the things you want to do.
- They don’t do things for you without you asking them.
- They never seem to take responsibility for growth and success of the relationship.
- Your partner doesn’t apologize when she is wrong.
- They use emotional manipulation to get their way because they know you’ll give in.
Selfishness and Our Identity
From where does selfishness come? I believe self-absorption comes from not realizing and walking in our identity in Christ. You see, selfishness arises from a feeling of lack and inadequacy. Selfish people (I am one of the most selfish people I know) operate from a place and posture of scarcity. When they feel like someone is withholding from them, they think they must claw and scramble and fight for the center stage.
Selfish people are ignorant of their source of fullness – Jesus. They depend on someone else, other than Jesus, to make them full and satisfied. I remember being shocked and hurt when Tonia told me that I could not fulfill and satisfy all her needs. I thought, as a husband, I was obligated to meet all her needs. This is what husbands are supposed to do. I was wrong. The truth is, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your best friend can never fulfill all that is lacking in you. And, it is delusional for us to think that they can.
So, the sooner we come to grips with this reality, the sooner we will exorcise the gremlin of disappointment, which leads to selfishness. God never created you to have human beings fulfill your deepest desires and longings. Only He can fill those empty places and satisfy your deepest longings.
Antidotes to Selfishness
MY MY MY kills relationships. If we want our relationships to soar, we must apply the remedies to the infectious virus of selfishness.
- Turn our hearts toward God’s Word (Psalm 119:36)
- Follow the supreme example of Jesus (Romans 15:3; Philippians 2:4-8)
- Seek the good of others before you seek your own good (1 Corinthians 10:24)
- Put off the old nature (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9)
- Fight for the highest good of others (John 13:34)
Jesus invites us to turn from our selfish ways, take up our cross daily, and follow him. Self-sacrifice is fundamental and foundational to following and living like Jesus (Mark 8:34). When Jesus consumes our thoughts and actions, the needs of others will fill our hearts. His mission and their needs will leave no room for ourselves.
In what ways have selfishness negatively impacted your relationships?
How has self-sacrifice caused your relationships to soar?