Thursday, June 16, 2011


Have you ever pondered on what might virtually be the root cause of unhappiness in your life?

Many things contribute to unhappiness- financial issues, relational problems, quarrels, disappointing outcomes. One would have this feeling that is very hard to swallow when he is dissatisfied or sad. And that is rendered natural. But, digging deeper, what contributes to that sadness? What exactly, drains oneself of peace and harmony? Is it because of what happened? Or the implication of it?

You might not be getting my point, which I do not expect you to, as of now. Giving examples and analogies are still one of the best ways in breaking down and making clear of a subject to a targeted individual, which happens to be you, the reader. So let's view an example, shall we? 2 lovely 5-year-old girls are playing together with say, dolls. A particular doll catches both their eyes, and both want to have it. Being only children, they've probably never come across the words 'compromise' or 'negotiate' and none of them is willing to give it up. Then things start to get ugly. From pulling each other's hair to landing mighty punches, it seems the girls have transformed into monsters. Not-so-innocent feelings such as bitterness, anger and rage explode into the scene. My question: Why? One might answer, because they didn't get what they wanted. Being fussy here, I wouldn't settle with that slightly inaccurate answer. Yes, they didn't have their way, and they weren't happy. But having one's way means satisfying self. Me. "I want to play with the doll so that I can satisfy myself, so that I can have fun. The priority is me and since there's only one doll, I will have it first and I don't care about what you think or feel." Notice the number of 'I's, 'Me's and 'myself's, with only one 'you' word. The answer? Selfishness.

A great guitarist is encouraged by family and friends to join a talent-time competition. By all means, he stands every chance to make it to the top 3, with the ripping guitar skills that he has. Yet he's having doubts about it. He's worried if there are people out there who're better than he, though they are in fact way out of his league. He's fearful he would make a mistake while playing. Still, he wants to join the competition because he simply has the interest. This becomes a big problem to him- when there is none to begin with! He worries all night and is down because he cannot make up his mind. Why? Because if his 'worst nightmares' came true - If there are people better than him or he makes a mistake while playing - his reputation would be at stake. He would have destroyed his own image in front of the crowd if he lost the competition. He would have essentially hurt himself. Since that possibility exists, he'd rather not take it. I mean, one can never put oneself at risk can he? By oneself I do not exactly mean one's life, but his ego, pride, self-image, etc.

How do you think Satan became Satan? Already in a highly respectable position as archangel, he was not satisfied. He was so self-centered and so full of himself that there was no room for God inside him any longer. God, who created him, was insignificant compared to himself. Only by being God himself would Lucifer be slaked of his monstrous selfish desires. He felt that only then could his self be exalted to the highest degree possible. He was thrown down to Hades.

Last example. Guess who? Me. No it's not a joke. Me, the writer. What happened? Well, it is quite apparent that I have not typed in a long time, and I didn't type as smoothly as I used to. I was struggling for words and flow, and I was getting frustrated. And then I thought, why was it that I'm feeling agitated? And the answer was right in front of me- the big title of this post. I will be very frank with you. I was actually pursuing a flamboyant style of writing with impressive vocabulary. For what? So that people would admire my piece of writing. For SELF.

Loving oneself is not wrong, it is the right thing to do. However, that can easily turn into selfishness, when we give attention to and care for nobody but ourselves. Through the above examples, we can see that selfishness leads to quarrels, arguments, fights, scarred relationships, low self-esteem, doubt, worry, fear, frustration, agitation, devastation, desolation, destruction. It even extends beyond that. The love of money is the root of all evil, they say. But why would people love money? To use that money to buy anything and everything for self-gratification. Therefore selfishness is how greed entered world's history as well. In fact, the saying mentioned above was inaccurate; the unhealthy excessive love of self is the root of all evil. As long as one is self-centered, evil is bound to lurk. Selfishness is the root of all evil.*

*After further consideration, the love of money is still a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10), reason being yes at first the pursuit of wealth is for self, but there's somehow a way things happen that in the end one gets enslaved by the love of money and is controlled by it, thus Matthew 6:24. In this case, the pursuit of money is no longer for self, but it has become one's master.

Let's face it. Let's face the ugly truth. We all know we are cruel, selfish people. Yes, even I, the writer, forgot about the essence of what I was writing when selfishness took over for that moment. But you know what? I will confront this ugly side of me. I am not going to hide or forget about it. After all, I typed this post for a purpose. To convey the important message to you(and me). That does not require bombastic words; simple English will do. The focus is definitely not on me. The focus is on you, getting the message. And if I can admit this flaw of mine and start changing myself, you can do the same.

But of course, we are definitely not alone. Thank God for Himself, the Holy Spirit and His ever-relevant Word! I would emphasize on relevant; believe it or not, the Word of God is especially relevant today! We had the 10 Commandments, but Jesus ingeniously yet at the same time precisely summarized them to 2. Take a look:
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.' "

~Matthew 22:37-39 [NIV]
When we start focusing our thoughts on something else, naturally we will think less of ourselves. And Jesus says the best things to occupy our minds with are God and our neighbours. To love both God and our neighbours, we place them above ourselves in terms of priority. As we serve them, we will find out there is so much more joy when we focus on others rather than ourselves. The following verses cannot make it any clearer to us:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. "

~Philippians 2:3-4 [NIV]
I believe Paul wrote this because he knew that caring for others not only benefits them, it benefits ourselves even more! Give it a try where you are right now. Whenever you become angry or agitated, try tracing the source of it. Chances are it's your selfishness. Stop caring so much about yourself and start being in others shoes and caring for their welfare. Life will change for you. By transferring our thoughts and attention to others, we escape from the snare of selfishness, which would, trust me, save us so much trouble in life.


Lord, You know all thoughts; everything in my heart is laid bare before You. There's no point in trying to hide from You, and so I confess my sin of selfishness right now. Forgive me for being selfish according to Your grace and mercy, and rescue me from being self-centered to the point of no return. I commit and surrender myself wholly to You almighty, awesome God, my Lord and my Saviour. Use me for Your glory; all glory is Yours, and Yours alone. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment