Does Scripture Teach Our Self-Centeredness Is Bad?
May 7, 2021God's Love, Growth, Living Abundantly
Have you ever noticed how babies are only concerned about themselves, their personal well-being? This is because they have just left their mother’s womb where they were held close, kept warm, continually fed, and worry free.
A newborn is unaware of others and the vastness of life they have just entered. Self-awareness and personal needs are the first desires to develop. So is their self-centered focus a sin or a built-in need to survive? Does Scripture teach our self-centeredness is bad? If so, shouldn’t we disdain any and all sense of self-importance?
The desire to fulfill our own needs is not a choice; it is a built-in necessity for existence. An awareness of self and our own importance is more than appropriate. Self-centeredness is not a sin unless it becomes a dominant characteristic that begins to negate the importance of others.
As the initial needs and desires are met, children become aware of others and values beyond themselves. Levels of love, trust, and appreciation develop, even self-confidence. When they are not properly cared for and taught that life is not just about “me,” they deal with senses of abandonment, feelings of disdain, and their sense of self is skewed. Most children experience what is known as “the terrible twos” because at this age they begin testing values and authorities.
God created the natural environment as a place for us to begin our existence, as extensions of His life. During our natural life span, we are expected to deal with the variables of food and hunger, hot and cold, having and doing without, need and fulfillment, of love and disdain. Because of His love, He promises to be with us through all our trials and difficulties. (a) [see end notes for all Scriptures]
Scripture says every person is an “offspring of God.” (b) While at times, like the Pharisees, in the days Jesus lived, we act like children of the devil and oppose the ways of God, (c) we are still His offspring and His love remains. Even when He appears to be displeased or angry and we suffer the harmful effects of our actions, we are still important to our heavenly Father. Self-centeredness is a God given quality.
Our self-centeredness is a God given quality.
The Balance of Extremes
A balance regarding our self-awareness is important. While God designed us to be aware of our self and our importance, we must safeguard against extreme factors and not lose balance. When we lose sight of our created reality, we become extremes, either arrogant ‘or’ despondent.
Arrogance is an extreme that creates an elitist attitude of superiority and efforts to gain or maintain control. Arrogance negates the importance of others and tends to be harmful, divisive and destructive. The opposite extreme causes us to feel inferior, even worthless.
Self-righteousness is another type of extreme. A self-righteous attitude is easily offended and will cause our responses to be ungodly expressions. (d) When we think, “I’m right and you are not,” or “I’m good and you are bad,” we tend to lash-out and condemn others as inferior.
This life is our first opportunity to personally grow and develop into mature reflections and resemblances (image and likeness) of God’s character, attitude and personality (CAP). When we respond to God’s call into fellowship with His guiding presence, we transform more rapidly into what we are created to be: natural and spiritual images and likenesses of His heart. (e)
The Apostle Paul spoke of a balanced perspective regarding the importance of self, encouraging us to “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. (f) The KJV says ‘mind’ rather than ‘attitude’. What was the mind/attitude Scripture refers to? Jesus kept a balanced attitude regarding who he was, as a son of God and of man. We are encouraged to keep a balance and not think of ourselves more highly or of less value than we should!
Jesus kept a balanced attitude regarding who he was, as a son of God and of man.
Staying in Balance
The Apostle goes on to explain in the same letter to the Philippians that he had every right to think more highly of himself. After all, Saul who became Paul had seen and spoken with Jesus and even received a special calling to pursue. (g) After years of functioning in his calling, Paul said he; “pressed on and reached toward the goal…not thinking he had attained.” (h) Paul considered his personal education and ministry “as rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ.” Our self-centeredness, in balance, is very important.
As our loving and insightful Father, God graciously leads and guides us through our earthly difficulties because He is patient, compassionate and longsuffering. (i) In this life, we learn to walk in God’s Light and Love, here a little and there a little. When we partake of the fellowship of God’s presence as the more perfect way of living, we allow God-Light and Love to flow through us. At times we may shine a lot and at times we tend to come up short.
So does scripture teach our self-centeredness is bad? Is self-centeredness a sin? No, your self-centeredness is a good value. As obedient and disobedient offspring and children, we are all worthy of God’s love. Jesus also encourages each of us to value each other by “loving one another.” (j) Do not develop into an extremity as a ‘too large’ or ‘too small’ self. Stay in balance!
As obedient and disobedient children, you are worthy of God’s love.
a) John 14:16; Hebrews 13:5; b) Acts 17:22-29; c) John 8:39, 44; d) Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 9:14; e) Genesis 1:26; f) Philippians 2:5-7; g) Acts 9:1-15; h) Philippians 3: 4-14; i) James 3:17; Galatians 5:22; j) John 13:34; 15:12
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder