Several years ago one of my favorite authors, anonymous, wrote a short essay entitled, “How To Be Miserable.” It began “Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible.”
The article continued, “Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others.”
The problem of self is age-old. It reminds me of a quote by evangelist Dwight L. Moody who once quipped, “I’ve had more problems with D. L. Moody than any ever man I’ve ever met.
Being self-absorbed leads to all kinds of personal problems and spiritual maladies. Consider a few
Self-righteousness. A common criticism of Christians is an air of spiritual smugness and moral superiority. It’s an attitude that we are better than others. It fails to realize we are all sinners. We all have flaws, faults and foibles. Jesus often condemned the Pharisees because they ” trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Lk. 18:9)
Self-Deceit. The Bible often warns, “Be not deceived” (ICor 15:33; Gal.6:7; Jas 1:16). A persistent problem we all face is thinking something is true when it’s not. We may allow ourselves to be duped by our own prejudice, religious traditions, or family heritage. People are deceived by their intellectual understanding, physical attributes, social status, or financial success. Such self-absorption over estimates one’s own power and prowess and neglects the spiritual needs of the soul.
Self-indulgence. Our age is all about having more. Getting more things. Enjoying more pleasure. Achieving more success. Receiving more honor. Relishing more experiences. Going more places. Eating more. Drinking more. And doing more.
Jesus warned that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Lk.12:15). Self-indulgence to the extreme often leads to one’s self-demise. Sexual addictions, substance abuse, and compulsive behaviors are self-indulgence issues.
There are many other self-inflicted problems we all face including being self-willed, self-serving, and self-loving. They all speak the issue of being self-centered. Self-absorption will negatively impact your relationships in your family, among your friends, with your co-workers and in your church-family.
A personal relationship with God reminds us that life is not all about self. It should be centered in Christ. Jesus calls us to self-denial and self-discipline.
Then (Jesus) said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Lk. 9:23-24).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman