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What You'll Discover in this Episode:


143: How to Overcome Selfishness


We're living in a time where humanity loves themselves. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

We as biblical counselors, we have to realize that most culture is selfish. Everybody is thinking, "What's in it for me?" They're thinking of themselves because they love themselves. This has crept into the church and what Paul is warning Timothy about.

We should learn to love our neighbors. Take the love of yourself and pour it to your neighbors. This is one of the things you would want to do.

God gives grace, favor, and transformation to the humble. He begins to work by His Holy Spirit inside of the heart of man and transforms a person from the inside out. This will dispel selfishness and shed fear. Romans 5.

Walk in this empowering grace and Holy Spirit through relational realities. Walk with Jesus in spirit of humility and with faith.

This is how you begin to overcome fear and selfishness.

Join the discussion and comment below to ask for the Selfish Attitude Test by Dr. Lou Priolo.

  • I can’t help but think that in the world today, but especially our society here in the USA. With all the turmoil in life of people not getting their needs met, financially, physically, emotionally, whatever, whether by spouse, family, health care providers, the government or again whatever, people are becoming more and more selfish and feeling less and less loved. Fear is gripping them and unless they have a firm root in their faith in Jesus Christ and have built their lives on His firm foundation, they will be fearful. Discipleship is so needed now for those whose have let the cares of this life coke out their faith and promises they have in Him.

  • I liked Jeff’s comment regarding selfishness being the sewer pipe through which all other sins proceed. A corollary to selfishness and perhaps just as deeply rooted in the human heart is the sin of Pride. Pride like selfishness exalts in a fierce sense of independence with a concomitant proclivity towards self absorption. It is the opposite of what God REQUIRES of man Micah 6:8 and listed at the top of the seven sins God HATES Prov. 6:16-19.

    I also appreciated His linking Selfishness, fear and love scripturally. I can’t say that all selfish people are fearful….. or better yet truly recognize they are as such. In other words, the selfish person’s IDENTITY is built or steeped in self. When that self/identity is threatened from within or without, fear quite naturally ensues. And since no person’s sense of self is as indestructible as those who are “in Christ” Rom. 8:37-39, people who are selfish, logically, should ALWAYS be fearful….. because whatever self is built upon can vanish in a moment of time (e.g. Wealth, health, fame, power or any number of permutations thereof). Therefore, a selfish person (self made or otherwise) is truly SELF DECEIVED as God’s Word declares 1 Jn 4:18; Jer 17:9,10; 1Jn 1:8.

  • I don’t think I won’t to know 🙂 but send me the SAT please. I like to give myself a heart check as often as I can. I have also given my wife permission to give me a heart check. So often I find myself caught up in the world and I become focused on myself and I am not taking the time I should to focus on those around me. I feel like Galatians 5:13 sums up a a large part of this podcast. Gal. 5:13, ‘For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” When we are serving one another in love we have true freedom and the sin of selfishness no longer controls us. However, I do realize I am flawed and I would ask for continued prayer to help me to recognize when selfishness is sneaking back into my life.

  • In addition to being miserable, selfishness can also lead to perverted forms of fulfilling the flesh. We see this happening before our eyes. And even though we don’t want this to happen, it is Biblical and confirms that we are in the last days as Pastor Jeff noted. Lovers of self also destroys relationships including marriage. This applies to me as I am convicted studying this topic. It is not that we get things but that we give back to others. I appreciate the thought that at times, we stumble forward because we are not perfect. But we cannot blame God for temptation or when we fall to temptation. 2 Timothy 1:7 :For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Selfishness is related to fear. Fear does not come from God. I believe that fear can be (or is) the foundation of sin.

    • I am in agreement with you Rick. I’m convicted by this topic as well. I believe the enemy uses fear to ensnare us and cause us to stumble and cause each other to stumble. But if we continue to abide in Christ, we may stumble forward 3 steps and then in our imperfectness back 2 steps but if we press into God and resist the devil eventually, we will be overcomers and produce fruit.

  • Pastor Jeff, thank you again for speaking on the difficult topics of self! Although we may see these issues more easily in others, our witness is of great value in counseling. Would greatly appreciate the SAT resource from Priolo to add to my counseling binder. Thank you.

  • A wonderful bit of insight; selfishness is rooted in fear. The flow of logic makes perfect sense. If I am afraid to lose something that I value highly, I will protect it, hold it tight, and never let it go(selfishness). This is likely why Jesus provided a glimpse of eternity to the disciples and followed it us with “whoever loves his life will lose it. But, whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it” to encourage in a life of selflessness.

    • Yes! When our focus is on Christ we go from takers to givers, from being in bondage to sin and death Heb 2: 14,15 to True freedom 2Cor 3:17 and abundant life Jn 10;10 (In this life and the life to come 1Cor 2:9)

  • Yes, send me the Selfish Attitude Test!

    I love the imagery of, “selfishness is like sewer pipe of sin”. It really gets you thinking.

    I love the statement, “People who tend to be selfish tend to be fearful and fearful people tend to be selfish” I see this in myself when I am fearful about something, I tend to lash out to protect myself. It gives me a deeper understanding of 1 John 4:18.

  • Doug and I really enjoyed this podcast! We would like a copy of the SAT as well.
    The WIIFM station can be very sneaky and subtle….we really do need the Holy Spirit to examine us! Worldly counsel says ‘listen to your heart’, whilst God says through Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful as well as wicked!
    Praise God for grace….we echo the cry of Psalm 51: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
    Psalm 51:10‭-‬13 ESV
    https://bible.com/bible/59/psa.51.10-13.ESV

  • Good information to know. A reminder of what we all need. It’s not about us. My mom would often quote, “Perfect love cast out fear.” It’s sad that many people live in fear, and this leads to selfishness. If they would just realize that with Christ, we have grace. We can humble ourselves before Him. This will actually grow our faith, and that’s what we want.

  • I would like a copy of the S.A.T. (Selfish Attitude Test).
    Being selfish is so easy and natural. At least for me. What’s in it for me? Selfish desires destroyer of all relationships. Thank you, Lord for providing a way to overcome this sinful behavior, through the help of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, pastor Jeff for pointing out the relation between selfishness and fear. That makes a lot of sense.

    • Chad I agree completely. Being selfish does seem to come to easy to me and to many others. I myself almost lost a most precious relationship because of my selfish desires. Thankfully Jesus got ahold of me before I had completely ruined the relationship.

  • To love is to give. As Pastor Jeff address this subject it got my attention. It is so easily overlooked and being a person of acts of service I contend. There are times where I wrestle with not having a selfish motive when serving/giving. Too many times to count I have let fear drive my heart. And continually do when “I” do it in my own strength and not the Lord’s strength. Simply humbling ourselves before Him and putting our faith into action. Letting the Holy Spirit teach us how become rooted and grounded in Him. Looking for the day we dwell with Him in His kingdom.

    Ephesians 3:16-19
    “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

  • I agree totally that selfishness is linked to, rooted in fear because arguably it demonstrates a lack of faith in the Lord. It is about self protection. Self promotion. Self. Conversely the Lord says don’t try and preserve your life. Die to self and let me lead.
    “sewer pipe for all other sins” !!!!!! pretty much. There’s just no way I’m going to die to self without the Holy Spirit’s help. As fallen human beings we are steeped in self. But I want to be more like my Lord.

    • Ann, I too can attest that I let fear overtake my heart at times. We cannot do it in our own but in Him only. Walking with Jesus in humility and faith is the only way we can truly rid of selfishness. To love like the Author intended.

    • So true Ann-Louise! This is what is so important about the act and work of sanctification. As we are called steadily closer to Christ-likeness, we have no choice but to rely evermore on the Spirit to accomplish that transformation inside us.

  • I can honestly say that I have tuned onto W.I.F.M station a few times in my life. Before coming to Christ, oh yeah, my life was all about me, I suffered so much and as I grew up and went to see a “Counselor” myself, I was always told to think about the situations or circumstances and how did it make me feel? I was always put in the victim seat time after time, leaving me feeling even more angry about things that took place in my childhood, I would then be told that “Now is my time” “Focus on you” but never was appropriately shown how. It is very true what Professor Jeff states in the podcast 143 Selfishness is directly related to sinful fear. The antidote to fear is love. Gods Love! As he said, we will apply training, discipleship, help, prayer, we will be the ones to walk side by side with someone on their journey towards The Lord or to heal in The Lord. That is something that a secular counselor cannot offer. It is incumbent that we draw upon The Lord and HIS Word.
    I would like to take the S.A.T please. Thank you for another insightful podcast.

    • Serena… amen and amen. You are right about secular counselling pointing back to self. Praise the Lord He led you here.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! I think we all have been tuned to the WIIFM station a time or two if we are honest with ourselves.

      • Chad I loved your last phrase, “honest with ourselves”. We don’t get that honesty until we can turn off the WIIFM station. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I would like a copy of the Selfish Attitude Test please.
    I really enjoyed the podcast today. This teaching is so opposite of what psychology teaches. In seeing a therapist the push is to love yourself, seek to make yourself happy and let go of those people that get in your way of your happiness. In following that teaching, it may make you feel good for a short time, but eventually you find yourself angry and completely empty. It is so hard to let go of the selfishness, and I still fail so many times, but when you hand it over to the Lord, it opens the door for Him to do the work in you and to make changes that you never thought possible. It is hard to give over those wants and desires, but in the end it brings peace that you never had before. I cannot wait till we are all in Heaven, and that battle no longer takes place in my heart.

    • Angela,
      I have first hand experienced what the push on “self” is when going to see a secular counselor, they tend to make you feel more insecure, afraid, fearful and alone in your situation. I always felt good when I was on my way to he secular counselors office, and even while I was there, but once I left I was drained, and yes, even angry. Handing all of us and every piece of our pain to God, allows HIM to do the miraculous in our lives and those we will counsel.

    • Yes another amen. psychology does promote self and says self can sort out all of its own problem by itself. And you are spot on…that self is promoted as the vehicle towards happiness and fulfillment. How sad. But our culture in the west is saturated with this type of teaching. Meanwhile ..”and everyone did what was right in his own eyes” Judges 21:25

    • Angela, I agree with you on how personal happiness can impact the heart leaving it empty and angry. The motive was only seeking self and not the wellbeing of others. But what a difference it makes when we do things out of selfless ambition unto the Lord. Praying the rapture come soon girl!

  • I would like to request the SAT please.
    “Selfishness is directly related to sinful fear. People who are selfish tend to be fearful, and fearful people tend to be selfish.” Love (Jesus Christ) is the antidote to fear and selfishness, because as we learn in 1John 4:18, perfect love casts out fear. What a great podcast, I am once again reminded that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, and that His Word contains everything we need to live an abundant life, as we trust Him as our Lord and Savior.

    • It is incumbent on us as a mighty team of counselors to press into HIS Word and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. Taking a literal self assessment on our selves and see where our very own hearts are. Learning to love ourselves through Christ and then loving others as HE would have us. My husband and I used to serve in youth ministry for 10 years, we ended up taking in a young teen, whom had some pretty horrble things take place in her home, so we got emergency guardianship over her. She suffered so much, she self harmed and was severely depressed. We took her to multiple court ordered “Therapists” we also did Bible studies with her and took her to youth groups/camps. She finally told me one day that she hated living with us, she hated church and she was going to ask her social worker to send her somewhere else. I cried and prayed to God, he showed me the part of scripture in John 13 when Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed, He showed love anyway and washed the feet of the Disciples. In that moment, I realized that I was expecting to be loved by someone whom was never shown actual agape love, she only knew hurt and hate. I was so focused on how I felt, what I was doing, I did not focus on showing her or applying true agape love into her. So as Jesus did, I too did, as I sit here, 11 years later, it brings me to tears, because what Jesus did in that moment between her and I, it was only HIM. Took a full assessment at that moment on how The Lord would use me.

      • Thanks for sharing that Serena, it seems that you have lived out a piece of life that most of us dread. To extend love consistantly for a long time and to face rejection despite your love. What a difficult experience, yet you where obedient to what God lead you to do. Do you feel a measure of peace in this memory, or does it still bring pain? For me, my past trials seem to be some kind of mix of the two.

        • We can do all things through Christ Jesus that give us strength right? Yes, to answer your question Dean, it is a mix of two, pain because my heart wonders where she is now, as we have lost contact, she was able to be re-unified back to her biological mom when she was 16, (she is now in her 20’s) so we lost all contact with her once that took place. I do feel peace within knowing that our Lord gave me the direction and love to give to her. All I can do is offer HIS Agape love.

  • The flesh calling out is such a rotten trick, we are so easily inclined to be self seeking in life. It always sounds like exactly what we want, yet it leaves us wanting and unsatisfied. On the other hand when we die to self and seek the will of God we are left with satisfaction. What a paradox it is, I am looking forward to the day when the flesh no longer cries out but for now I can find joy in obedience.

    • Dean I like your comment of when we die to self and seek God’s will that we are left with satisfaction. It is a fear of fully giving ourselves to God (a deception from Satan that if we give up on what we want and hand our lives fully over to the Lord, that we will be miserable) that keeps us from truly experiencing the joy and peace that only He can bring. The dying of self actually brings joy, and the love of self is bondage.

    • Self-seeking is easy and it is what we are taught in society. We gotta take of numeral uno! ‘Cause no one else will! Hence, the fear factor.

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