What does the Bible say about selfishness?
The core of selfishness is self-idolatry. When someone behaves in a selfish manner, they are numb to the pain they cause others. There are so many selfish people – because it is extremely easy to behave in a selfish manner.
Selfishness is self-centeredness. When you are being selfish, you are not glorifying God with all your heart, soul and mind.
We are all born sinners, and our natural state of being is one of complete and utter selfishness. We cannot act completely selfless unless we are made into a new creation by the blood of Christ. Even then, for Christians being selfless is something we have to grow in on our journey of sanctification. These selfishness verses include translations from the KJV, ESV, NIV, and more.
Christian quotes about selfishness
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
“The man who is out to possess his possessions will soon discover that there is no easy way to victory. The highest values in life must be fought for and won.” Duncan Campbell
“Supreme and abiding self-love is a very dwarfish affection, but a giant evil.” Richard Cecil
“Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.” William E. Gladstone
“Selfishness has never been admired.” C.S. Lewis
“He who wants everything, loses everything.”
“Selfish people tend to only be good to themselves… then are surprised when they are alone.”
“Self is the great antichrist and anti-God in the world, that sets up itself above all else.” Stephen Charnock
“Selfishness is when we pursue gain at the expense of others. But God doesn’t have a limited number of treasures to distribute. When you store up treasures for yourself in heaven, it doesn’t reduce the treasures available to others. In fact, it is by serving God and others that we store up heavenly treasures. Everyone gains; no one loses.” Randy Alcorn
“Selfishness seeks its own private happiness at the expense of others. Love seeks its happiness in the happiness of the beloved. It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be full in the life and purity of the beloved.” John Piper
“If your prayer is selfish, the answer will be something that will rebuke your selfishness. You may not recognize it as having come at all, but it is sure to be there.” William Temple
What does God say about being selfish?
There are many Bible verses that explain how selfishness is something that we should avoid. Selfishness entails having a high sense of self: complete and utter pride. It is the opposite of humility and selflessness.
Selfishness is the opposite of humility. Selfishness is worshipping self rather than God. It is a sign of someone who is unregenerate. Throughout Scripture, selfishness is indicative of someone who is living apart from God’s law.
1. Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
2. 1 Corinthians 10:24 “We should stop looking out for our own interests and instead focus on the people living and breathing around us.”
3. 1 Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some.”
4. Philippians 2:20-21 “I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. 21 All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.”
5. 1 Corinthians 10:33 “I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”
6. Proverbs 18:1 “Whoever pulls away from others to focus solely on his own desires
disregards any sense of sound judgment.”
7. Romans 8:5 “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
8. 2 Timothy 3:1-2 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy.”
9. Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
10. Philippians 1:17 “The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”
11. Matthew 23:25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence!”
Is selfishness a sin according to the Bible?
The more we study selfishness, the more clear it is that this quality is actually a sin. With selfishness comes a sense of entitlement. And we who are born depraved sinners are entitled to nothing except for the wrath of God. All we have and are is because of God’s mercy and grace.
Striving for your own self instead of the needs of others is very wicked in the eyes of God. It is the breeding ground for all sorts of other sins. At the heart of selfishness is an absence of agape love for others. It doesn’t take any sort of self control to be selfish. Rather, we as Christians live lives that are to be in complete control of the spirit.
There is a wisdom in regards to a sense of self that needs to be separated from selfishness. Being wise about your own safety and health are not selfish. That is treating the temple of our body respectfully out of worship for our Creator God. The two are entirely different at a heart level.
12. Romans 2:8-9 “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”
13. James 3:16 “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
14. Proverbs 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
15. James 3:14-15 “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.”
16. Jeremiah 45:5 “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it! I will bring great disaster upon all these people; but I will give you your life as a reward wherever you go. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
17. Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.”
Is God selfish?
While God is perfectly Holy and deserves to be worshipped, he is very concerned for His children. God didn’t create us because He was lonely, but so that all of His attributes may be known and glorified. This, however, is not selfishness. He is worthy of all of our praise and adoration, because of His holiness. The human attribute of selfishness is about being self-centered and lacking consideration for others.
18. Deuteronomy 4:35 “You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.”
19. Romans 15:3 “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
20. John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
21. Philippians 2:5-8 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
22. 2 Corinthians 5:15 “And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
23. Galatians 5:14 “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
24. John 15:12-14 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
25. 1 Peter 1:5-7 “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”
It is easy to pray selfish prayers “Lord let me get the promotion instead of Susy!” or “Lord I know I deserve this raise, and she doesn’t please let me get this raise!” Sinful prayers stem from selfish thoughts. God will not hear a selfish prayer. And a selfish thought is sinful. We can see how these selfish thoughts led to the creation of the Tower of Babel in Genesis.
Then in the book of Daniel we can see how the selfish King of Babylon was by how he talked. And then in Acts 3, we can see how Annanias was extremely selfish in keeping back some of the price – selfishness filled his hearts, and probably his prayers too.
Let’s all examine ourselves and confess our selfishness before the Lord. Be honest with the Lord. Be willing to say, “there are good desires in this prayer, but Lord there are also selfish desires. Lord help me with those desires.” God honors this honesty and humility.
26. James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
27. 1 Kings 3:11-13 “So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”
28. Mark 12:7 “But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!”
29. Genesis 11:4 “They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
Selfishness vs selflessness
Selfishness and selflessness are two opposites that we should be aware of. When we are selfish, we are focusing all of our attention ultimately on ourselves. When we are selfless, we are focusing all of our heart on others, without any thought of our own self.
30. Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”
31. Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”
32. John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
33. Matthew 22:39 “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
34. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
35. 1 Corinthians 9:19 “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”
36. Psalm 119:36 “Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!”
37. John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
38. Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.”
Dealing with selfishness in the Bible
The Bible provides a remedy for selfishness! We need to acknowledge that selfishness is sin, and that all sin is enmity against God that is punishable by eternity in Hell. But God is so merciful. He sent His Son, Christ, to bear the wrath of God upon His own self so that we can be made clean of the stain of sin by His Salvation. By God loving us so selflessly we can be cured from the sin of selfishness.
In 2 Corinthians we learn that Christ died for us, so that we might no longer be bound by a life of complete selfishness. After we are saved, we need to grow in sanctification. This is the process by which we are made more like Christ. We learn to be more loving, kind, brotherly, sympathetic and humble.
I encourage you to pray for humility and the love for others. Remain in the heart and mind of God (The Bible). This will help you to have His heart and mind. I encourage you to preach the gospel to yourself. Remembering the great love of God changes our heart and helps us to love others more. Be intentional and creative and find different ways to give and love others every week.
39. Ephesians 2:3 “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
40. 2 Corinthians 5:15 “and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
41. Romans 13:8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
42. 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
43. Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
44. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”
45. Luke 9:23 “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
46. Ephesians 3:17-19 “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
47. Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but enjoy the company of the lowly. Do not be conceited.”
Examples of selfishness in the Bible
There are many examples of selfishness in the Bible. Someone who is extremely selfish as a lifestyle may not have God’s love dwelling inside him. We should pray for those people. Some of the examples in Scripture include Cain, Haman, and others.
48. Genesis 4:9 “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
49. Esther 6:6 “So Haman came in and the king said to him, “What is to be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king desire to honor more than me?”
50. John 6:26 “Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.”
Let us focus on how much the Lord loves us, even though we do not deserve it. This will help us in the constant war with our flesh against the tug of selfishness.
Q1- What is God teaching you about selfishness?
Q2 – Is your life characterized by selfishness or selflessness?
Q3 – Are you being vulnerable to God about your selfishness / are you confessing your struggles daily?
Q4 – What are ways that you can grow in selflessness?
Q5 – How can the gospel change the way that you live your life?