Selfishness, the Basis of Sin


How long ago was it when you went to a store, maybe the grocery store or Wal-Mart, and heard a child crying and screaming to the top of their lungs? It happens almost every time I am in a store, and I always wonder what’s going on.

The other day, my friend and I were in a store, and oh my goodness, this little character could be heard EVERYWHERE! We found him quickly and he was sitting in Mommy’s grocery cart just having a fit. Not one tear could be seen on his face. So I looked straight at him and began to talk quietly to him.

“Oh my, my,” I said, “what could be the matter? Are you so upset and angry because you are in the cart? You know, your Mommy loves you very much and she doesn’t want you to get lost. And anyway, isn’t it fun to ride in that fancy cart?”

His crying stopped immediately and he just stared at me, with no words coming from him. “Be a good boy for your Mommy now, because all that screaming makes her very sad.”

The moment I turned away as if I was going to leave, the screaming started up again. “Wait a minute,” I said. He stopped. “I thought we already talked about this. You can’t be hurting ‘cuz here’s not one tear on your face. You make all the shoppers upset when you scream, so please don’t do it again,” I said–a bit more firmly. We didn’t hear another sound from him.

Apparently, just like us, he wanted something and Mom was not paying attention. But then, isn’t that just like us? We want something, we try our best to obtain it peacefully, and then a temper tantrum kicks in. It can be as mild or harsh as we choose, until we get our way. Just like that Wal-Mart toddler, self is on the throne. And self will stay on that throne until someone responds the way we want them to, or the rage will escalate.

Remember James and John, the brothers of Thunder in the Bible? I heard a sermon illustration about them the other day. They actually had the audacity to ask Jesus if one of them could sit on His right hand and the other on His left hand when he came into his kingdom. That request did NOT get the response they wanted, so the boys went to their Mommy! “What?” you ask. Yes, that’s the truth and they begged Mommy to intervene with Jesus. Believe it or not, for her two grown sons, she did that!

Can you imagine going to President Trump to ask that one of your kids could be the Vice President and the other become the Secretary of State? I think not, but James’ and John’s mother actually did just that. In reality, they didn’t know what they were asking, because Jesus had said that his sheep would be on His right hand and the goats would be on the other hand. She was asking if one of her sons could go to heaven, and the other one go to . . . .

Selfishness is the basis for all sin. Think about it. Isn’t it the basis of what goes on in government today? Isn’t that the foundation for squabbles at work when both you and a co-worker seek adulation for your accomplishments? Isn’t it the basis for marital struggles? “I want what I want when I want it, and if you don’t give it to me, I’ll throw a fit just like the little kid at Wal-Mart.” In some marriages husbands expect the wives to work full time, come home after a long shift, cook and serve dinner, clean up the kitchen, do the laundry and be ready for a romantic sexual encounter after all that. Of course, all along he’s been on the sofa watching TV. Some wives expect their husband to spend every waking moment with them and every extra penny (or even borrow money) to buy expensive jewelry and fancy vacations. “Treat me like the king or the queen, regardless of how weary you might be.”

These are the same adults who grew up expecting every new toy made to be under the Christmas tree, and every new style of clothing to be purchased, regardless of cost. Entitled is the word we are using these days for the huge number of children who grow up in these circumstances.

The truth really is, that all along in a child’s life, they should be taught to share–with Mom and Dad, with friends and with children whose circumstances are less fortunate than their own. This, and Mom and Dad’s example, is how they learn to be less self-centered and move toward Christ-centered and other-centered attitudes and behaviors.

Picture it: Ron used to have a graphic of two wheels, complete with spokes. At first when a child is born, he/she is at the hub, and all the spokes (family, friends, God, etc.) serve them. It is by puberty that they should be able to take themselves out of the hub and place Jesus there and themselves as one of the spokes, supporting Christ. Keep that picture in your mind as you ask yourself, “Just where on the wheel of life am I?” If you are on the hub, it’s time to make a positive move and allow Christ to carry the weight and be served by yourself and others.