Consequences of Selfishness in the Bible
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Consequences of Selfishness in the Bible

Selfishness is a sin that can infect our lives in subtle ways. As Christians, God calls us to live selflessly, putting others before ourselves. However, our human nature often leads us to pridefulness, greed, and self-centeredness. What does the Bible say about the dangers of selfishness and its consequences in our lives? Read on as we explore this critical topic.


Dear friend, have you ever caught yourself thinking only of your own interests and needs, rather than considering how your actions affect others? Selfishness takes many forms, from ignoring the needs of the poor for the sake of personal comfort, to pursuing prestige and status with no thought to how our ambition might hurt others.

As Christians, we know that living selflessly is central to following Jesus’ example. But putting this into practice can be incredibly difficult! Our culture celebrates individual achievement and encourages self-promotion. So how can we recognize and root out selfishness from our hearts?

In this article, we will study biblical wisdom on the consequences of selfishness. Rather than condemnation, God wants to set us free from the control of sin. As James 4:1-2 (NKJV) says:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.

The Bible is full of instruction to turn from selfish ambition and humbly serve others. As we strive to become more Christ-like, recognizing how selfishness destroys our lives and relationships is an essential step. Avoiding the pitfalls of selfishness is crucial for living in freedom and joy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Selfishness is rooted in pride and destroys our ability to love others.
  • Selfishness ruins relationships and isolates us from community.
  • God disciplines and judges selfishness in believers who refuse to repent.
  • We must daily die to selfishness and live for Christ through the Spirit.
  • Selfless living brings freedom, joy and eternal rewards.

Selfishness Cuts Us Off From God’s Love

The foremost consequence of selfishness is that it separates us from God’s infinite love. 1 John 4:8 (NKJV) declares that “God is love.” By rejecting love for others, selfishness rejects the very nature of God.

Selfish ambition was the original sin that brought evil into the world. Isaiah 14:12-14 describes how Lucifer fell away from heaven because of the pride in his heart:

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’”

When our primary goal is promoting ourselves rather than glorifying God, we repeat the same arrogant sin as the devil. Selfishness is rooted in the pride that seeks to steal glory from God alone.

This pride cuts us off from the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Selfish people become enslaved to sinful desires that promise satisfaction but only lead to spiritual emptiness.

Instead of selfishness, God calls us to humility and obedience. Surrendering our self-will to Jesus sets us free to receive God’s supernatural love. As we turn from selfishness through repentance, God’s Spirit fills us so His love can flow through us to others.

Selfishness Ruins Relationships

Not only does selfishness separate us from God – it destroys our relationships and community with others. The book of Philippians calls believers to humility, considering others as more important than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). Why does humility matter so much?

Looking out for your own interests at the expense of others is incredibly isolating. People become distrustful and guarded, poisoning the possibility of close friendships.

James 4:1-3 explores the social conflicts caused by unchecked selfishness:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Here, selfishly desiring pleasure and status leads to violence, discord, unmet needs, unanswered prayers, and relational brokenness. How tragic that the selfish pursuit of personal happiness destroys that very possibility!

True joy comes when we lay down entitlement and humbly serve each other in love. The body of Christ depends on each member selflessly fulfilling their role. Does your selfishness create disunity and discord? Repent, so you can restore broken relationships and receive the blessings of Christian community.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can crucify selfish desires and cultivate selfless love. We reflect Jesus by serving the vulnerable and putting others’ needs before our comfort. Our lives must be defined by sacrificial love.

God Disciplines and Judges Selfishness

One sobering consequence of selfishness is that God actively opposes and judges it. Proverbs 21:13 warns plainly:

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard.

Here, refusing to show compassion leads to your own cries being ignored in your time of need. If you close your heart to others, do not be surprised when God seems deaf to your prayers!

In Ezekiel 34, God sternly warns the selfish leaders of Israel who exploited the poor:

‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock.”’ (Ezekiel 34:2-3)

God promises to remove these shepherds from power and judge them for their selfishness. As Christians, we are called to stewards who care for those under our authority. Abusing positions of influence for personal gain invites God’s discipline.

Judgment begins within the household of God. Hebrews 12:5-6 explains how God lovingly disciplines His children:

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Divine discipline is not fun, but shows God’s fatherly commitment to our maturity and holiness. Fostering an attitude of selfishness and entitlement will hinder your spiritual growth. Expect God to convict you of sin and correct harmful mindsets. Stay humble and yield to the Spirit’s leading.

While God’s desire is always restoration, refusing to repent of selfishness can lead to serious consequences. Ananias and Sapphira faced instant death for lying to gain status in the early church (Acts 5:1-11). Let this be a sobering warning against stubborn selfish ambition within the body of Christ.

Daily Die to Selfishness Through the Spirit

With all its dangers exposed, how can we root out selfishness from our lives? Crucially, we cannot defeat selfishness by just trying harder in our own strength. True victory requires dying to our old sinful nature through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:16-17 (NKJV) describes the war between our flesh and the Spirit:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Our sinful flesh produces selfish desires that lead to death. But the Holy Spirit works within us to transform our desires and empower selfless living.

Each day, we must surrender control to the Spirit and receive His love. As we meditate on Christ’s sacrificial example, our perspectives and instincts change. instead of self-centeredness, we experience supernatural joy in serving others.

By abiding in Christ, we gain victory over the pull of selfishness. Galatians 5:24-25 promises:

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Moment by moment, seek the Spirit’s direction and strength. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not your own ego. Lay down selfish agendas that prevent you from loving people as Christ loves you.

Selflessness Brings Freedom and Reward

Finally, embracing selflessness leads to incredible freedom and eternal reward. Jesus promises in Matthew 16:24-25:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

Giving up selfish control is difficult, but brings life greater than we can imagine! Serving others opens your life to true purpose and joy. Your temporary sacrifices become eternal investments.

At the final judgment, Jesus separates the sheep from the goats based on how they served “the least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46). Will Christ say to you, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world?” This reward awaits those who pour out their lives in selfless service.

Dear friend, I hope examining Scripture has brought conviction and encouragement to you. We all struggle with selfishness – but by God’s power, we can walk the selfless path of Jesus. May this truth set you free to love others and live for eternal rewards. God bless you!

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.