Selfish “Christianity” 2

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.

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.

And when, in addition to these measures, the general strain of what is said to sinners is adapted to work upon their selfish feelings and animal passions, as most of what I have heard has been, and some of it extremely well adapted to work up those feelings to a high pitch, it would be strange if some affections were not excited which they might readily mistake for true religion. When God is represented as desiring their salvation, without the least qualification, and that his desire for it is infinitely strong, what impenitent sinner, that has the least seriousness of mind, is not prepared to be pleased? If ” sinners love those that love them,” as our Lord assures us, they can love such a being as God is represented to be, without any change of heart. A God of all mercy, is just such a God as sinners desire. Will it be said that his justice is also brought into view, and that the terrors of hell are exhibited? True; but in what light are they exhibited? Is it not commonly in a light to which the selfish heart will as readily accord?  WILLIAM R. WEEKS.

The concept of selfishness is not easily understood or recognized when it has to do with ourselves, though we see it in others. However, what we normally see is a fairly obvious selfishness as people are self-centered and do things without regard to others. What we don’t see, on the other hand, are the people who do what they do for the reasons of self. People are religious for selfish reasons and not out of love for Christ. People are nice and moral because they want to be known (to themselves and others) as nice and moral. People want to be known as loving and kind and all those things, so they act in such a way to get others and themselves to think that they are those things.

We can see the selfishness of the people who sought Christ (John 6:26) in order to obtain free food. However, we don’t see out own selfishness or even the selfishness of others who seek Christ just for what they can get from Him rather than out of love for Him. While it may sound hard and even very strange, if we never get beyond seeking Christ out of love for self and our own salvation we have not been saved. God changes hearts and gives them a love for Him and out of love for Him saved sinners seek Him and His glory rather than seeking Him out of love for self. People attend church services in order to do many things, but do they attend out of a true love for Christ and a desire for His glory?

This is a hard message. Perhaps we have only heard that we are to believe, make some form of commitment to Christ, be moral, and then do religious things for God. Notice, in Philippians 2:19-21 above, that Paul had no one to send to the Philippians. But what kind of person did he not have to send? He did not have anyone who had a genuine concern for their welfare. Why not? It is because these people sought after the interests of self rather than the interests of Jesus Christ. These people loved themselves rather than loving Christ. These people would preach for self rather than out of love for Christ. These people would serve others (in some sense) for the sake of self rather than serving others out of love for Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not that He frees us from the penalty of our sins but does not change our hearts from selfishness to love for God, but the Gospel is that He also frees us from the power of sin. Now if the very power of sin is the love of self and doing all things out of self-interest, then we have not been saved as long as we are only moved by selfish motives in the things of religion. While we should tell sinners of hell, we must also know that if that is the only motive they have to “serve” God they are doing what they do out of self-interests rather than love. The Greatest Command is to love God with all of our being and that includes our motives and intents in all we do. A heart that God changes and that Christ lives in by His Spirit, will have love for God and will be moved out of love for God, though indeed not perfectly. We need grace each moment.

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