Selfishness is the only Sin that Matters
When it comes down to it, not only are we all on the same page, but we all also suffer from the same disease. This is the disease of selfishness. This is ultimately the motivator that gets us to do almost everything. Selfishness causes us to take more than one of the best cookies left because we want them. When we take the best or most of anything this is selfishness. These may be very mild forms of the disease, but I aim to show you that almost every other sin comes back to it.
Before we get too far into it, I would like to take a moment to define selfishness, or at least give it a definition as to what I am going to be talking about here. Selfishness is anytime that we put our own interests above anything or anyone else. This can be between ourselves and God, other people, and even animals. Any time we sacrifice something else that results in our favor is selfishness.
Can the Sinful Nature be broken down to Selfishness?
Let’s take a look at the very first sin that ever occurred. This is of course the eating of the fruit in the Garden of Eden. On the surface it would appear that Adam and Eve acted out of disobedience to God. This is obviously a sin just as much as the 10 Commandment that states for us to obey (better word is honor) our parents. Ultimately, Adam and Eve gave in to temptation.
But what exactly was the temptation? It wasn’t just that they were disobeying God and giving in to the wishes of the serpent. They were not even really deceived by the serpent as they later claim to God (Genesis 3:13). Sure, perhaps the serpent was the vessel that was used to tempt Eve, but she did not act out of disobedience to God. Instead, the real temptation was that she wanted to be like God.
Genesis 3:5-6 says “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” Eve selfishly chose to defy God in order to be like God. If that wasn’t enough, she didn’t want to take the fall alone, so she brought her husband into it as well.
What about Sin X, Y, or Z?
Another time that selfishness takes over our lives is when we fail to delay gratification. This could be used in cases of the sexual sins. Pornography is selfishness in at least two different ways. First, it is giving in to self-pleasure of lust. Second, it is adultery (be it in a married relationship or outside of one) and is the inability to control our sexual desires. Even if it is consensual outside of marriage we are taking sex and removing it from God’s plan under the idea that our plan is better at the moment. Selfishness. I think the topic of rape fits in here without saying.
People commit murder for a number of different reasons. Perhaps it is taking revenge into our own hands. Or, perhaps it is done in order to hide another sin (King David anyone?). Maybe the person is psychotic and takes pleasure out of murdering people. This is still selfishness as it is taking pleasure at the expense of someone else. Murder is making the conscious decision that one life is more important than the one that is being killed.
Stealing is taking what someone else owns because we want it for ourselves. Lying is trying to save our own skin at the expense of our integrity. Cheating is again trying to better ourselves in an inappropriate way.
Definition of Sin
I have heard it said many times that sin is “anything we say, think, or do that displeases God.” Does not selfishness fall into all these categories? Sin is when we take ourselves out of the plan of God. We are separating ourselves from the perfect relationship with Him that he wants us to have. We are choosing to do things our way instead of God’s way. When put into these terms, I believe every single sin we ever commit is of selfishness.
Sins are things that we have to consciously choose to do. We do not sin by accident, at least not really. You can’t accidentally murder someone. You can accidentally lie or steal, but the accidental lie or theft is not the sin. It is what you choose to do with it afterward. The selfish thing to do is to make the accident work in your favor. It is sometimes selfless to do the right thing.
What does this mean for us?
It can mean whatever you want it to mean. For some of us this might not mean anything at all. For others it might just be an interesting change of perspective. After all, what difference does it make if all of our sins amount to being essentially the same one? Well, for one, it seems to be a lot easier to handle one sin rather than a whole bunch. If we can work on being less selfish then we are inherently working on every single sin at one time! We can dedicate our time and effort to always putting God’s plans ahead of ours.
It reminds me a bit of James 3. According to James, the tongue controls the entire body. He talks about how we can tame animals, but it is an entirely different beast to tame the tongue. However, he also says that if we are able to keep this one part of our body in check, then we can become perfect! This becomes especially true if we consider that what the tongue says comes from the heart.
In conclusion I would like to challenge each of us to consider how selfish we are. How many times do we make decisions based solely on ourselves? Do we regularly do things without regard to how it might affect other people? I know that there are plenty of areas in my life that I act selfishly in. These are areas that I need to improve on! Improving in the selfish areas of our lives will improve every other area of it as well.