The Destructive Nature of Selfishness

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“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

Two locations are widely recognized as the most likely spots for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One, the most likely to be historically accurate, is overrun with people and trinkets and decorations. The other, the one scholars deem less likely to be the actual place, is much less adorned and is painstakingly preserved to look much like it may have looked centuries ago.

While it may not be the tomb Christ was buried in, it sure looks the part. The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem is beautiful. It is one of those places that bears qualities that are difficult to describe. It certainly has a unique “feel” to it. It is serene. It is old. There is a great effort to keep it looking “just so.”

It was here we found a sign imploring the tourists and guests not to take any flowers or rocks from the site. Additionally, they asked that nothing (no notes containing prayers or any other objects) be left behind. Evidently, this is a problem! So many had plucked flowers the garden had suffered. So many had pocketed a few rocks the garden had suffered.

As I reflected on the need for such a sign, I suddenly realized that I often act selfishly without even thinking about it. It is tempting to pick up and take items from historical places. Who wouldn’t want a free souvenir from a place that is meaningful and significant? 

But, in a setting such as that, to take something for myself is to potentially deprive someone else of the beauty and joy they deserve to experience. To take something from the garden, even if small, would be destructive. Thus, I was reminded of the nature of selfishness – it is destructive. 

Selfishness destroys souls. When I think only of myself, I miss out on the most rewarding and fulfilling life of service and love. My own soul decays and shrivels as I horde and ignore the needs and value of others.

Selfishness destroys relationships. When I take and take and take, I leave others in need. Who wants to build a relationship with that type of person?

To be selfish takes away from and distorts God’s plan for mankind.

Being selfish leaves us empty and alone.

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

Bart Warren
South Green Street church of Christ
Glasgow, KY

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