Selfishness is the number one enemy of relationships. It is the number one cause of conflict. It is the number one cause of arguments. It is the number one cause of divorce. It is the number one cause of war. James 4 verses 1 and 2 say this,
“What causes fights and quarrels, don’t they come from your desires that battle within you. You want something but you don’t get it.”
It’s very easy for selfishness to creep into a relationship. We are very unselfish at the start of a relationship, but then as time goes on, selfishness begins to creep in. The truth is: We put more energy into building relationships than into maintaining relationships.
We all know that selfishness destroys a relationship so why don’t we change, or better yet, why can’t we change? Why can’t we be more unselfish?
Well there are a couple of reasons. First, it is natural. It is human nature to be selfish. We don’t think about other people most of the time. We think about ourselves, our needs, our interests and our hurts.
Not only are we naturally selfish, our culture and everything in it feeds our self-centeredness. Do you realize that every advertisement that comes out caters to our self-centeredness? It’s things like “Have it your way,” “We do it all for you.” Our culture teaches us that “It’s all about you” and “You’ve got to think about what’s best for you.”
Now if selfishness destroys relationships then selflessness builds them. What does selflessness mean? It means a little bit less of me and a little bit more of you. It means I think a little bit less of myself and I think a little bit more of you. That is being selfless. It’s reminding ourselves that we are not the whole center of the universe.
Philippians 2:4 says this, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That’s selflessness. Selflessness brings out the best in others. It builds relationships.
In fact, if you start acting selfless in a relationship it forces the other person to change because you’re not the same person anymore and they have to relate to you in a different way. Selflessness not only transforms a relationship it also transforms the other person.
I’ve actually seen it many, many times. I’ve seen some of the most unlovable and unlikable people be transformed by being selfless toward them and giving them what they need, not what they deserve. It transforms them when we show them selflessness and show them kindness.
Now God’s favorite place to teach us selflessness is with our family and with our friends. Why? Because those are the people who get closest to us on a regular basis.
It’s very easy to be selfless in a crowd because nobody is demanding anything. It’s when we’re in relationship with other people that we have the give and take of learning to get along with people who are different from us. This is where we have to learn to be selfless.
What are some ways that you can show those closest to you selflessness?