Selfishness as Sin 56

Luke 6:31 Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 “If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Philippians 2:19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

[This is said of those] that were not only baptized into the name of Christ, but also professed a great deal of love outwardly to Christ and His cause, and yet it is said even of those, That they sought their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ. (Monster of Sinful Self Seeking, Edmund Calamy)

Paul wanted to send men to the Philippians to teach them and help them. However, he had no one other than Timothy who would have a genuine concern for their welfare. Why is that important and why is that the case in this situation? Evidently Paul had men willing to come and perhaps they had great knowledge and skill, though he did not specifically say that. The one thing (at least one) that he thought absolutely necessary, though, they lacked. These men who were evidently ministers and were willing to suffer hardship to go to the Philippians sought the things of self rather than the things of Jesus Christ. They were willing to do many things in religion, but in what they did they were more concerned with the things of self than even the things of Christ.

What zeal they might have appeared to have in being willing to leave the comforts of home and travel to a strange place in order to preach Christ. They appeared to be willing to suffer hardship for the cause of Christ. They appeared to be eager to help the people and to serve them in the things of God. But all of those things are not inconsistent with men seeking their own things and self-interests rather than the interests of Christ. There is nothing a man may not do in the Christian ministry that he cannot do in the interests of self rather than that of Christ. Men can preach for self rather than Christ. Men can be missionaries for self rather than for Christ. Men can be music ministers for self and not for Christ. Men can teach Sunday School for self and not for Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

When we bring in I Corinthians 13 and set it beside Philippians 2:19-21, we see that men can do extraordinary things in the name of religion and in the name of Christianity and yet do them for self. If men are not doing them out of true love, they are doing them out of a selfish heart that is full of self-love and pride. Why would men either pretend to speak with the tongues of angels (if possible) or learn many languages if they do not have true love? They would do so for selfish reasons rather than love for God and the true good of their neighbors. Why would men strive to know so much and become distinguished in academic circles? It is because they love themselves and have selfish hearts rather than learn for the glory of God and the true good of others. Could it be possible for a person to give all they have to feed the poor and yet not have an ounce of true love for the poor? This Scripture sure makes it seem like it is a possibility. Is it possible for a person to give up his body to the fire and yet not have true love? Ah, the power of self-love and a selfish heart makes it possible.

What we can see with ease from these texts of Scripture is that there are no lengths that a selfish heart will not go to in the realm of religion and yet not do them out of true love. We can see what true love is in Philippians 2:19-21. It is when a person has a genuine concern for another’s true welfare which is at one and the same time the interests of Christ. We can do many things for others, yet unless we want them and strive to get them to see the things of Christ we have not truly done what is good for them. Even if we do something that God uses for their good, that is not the same thing as desiring it and seeking it. The sovereign Lord can use a proud preacher to speak His truth and though the speaker desires nothing but the things of self the Lord can use it for Himself. Oh how we need our hearts broken from the things of self that free-grace may give us love for the things of Christ.

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