The Review and Herald


July 13, 1886

The Sin of Selfishness


The simplicity of the truth will ever lead us to feel a sympathy for others’ woes. There are those who need our sympathy and our love. To exercise these traits of character, is a part of the life work which Christ has given us all to do. RH July 13, 1886, par. 1

There exists in the hearts of many an element of selfishness which clings to them like the leprosy. They have so long consulted their own wishes, their own pleasure and convenience, that they do not feel that others have claims upon them. Their thoughts, plans, and efforts are for themselves. They live for self, and do not cultivate disinterested benevolence, which, if exercised, would increase and strengthen until it would be their delight to live for others’ good. This selfishness must be seen and overcome; for it is a grievous sin in the sight of God. They need to exercise a more special interest for humanity; and in thus doing, they would bring their souls into closer connection with Christ, and would be imbued with his Spirit, so that they would cleave to him with so firm a tenacity that nothing could separate them from his love. RH July 13, 1886, par. 2

God will not excuse us for not taking up the cross, and practicing self-denial, in doing good to others with unselfish motives. We may, if we will take the trouble to make the self-denial required of Christians, be qualified, by the grace of God, to win souls to Christ. God has claims upon many of us to which we have never responded. There are those all around us who hunger for sympathy and love. But many of us are nearly destitute of that humble love which naturally flows out in pity and sympathy for the destitute, the suffering, and the needy. The human countenance itself is a mirror of the soul, read by others, and leaving a telling influence upon them for good or evil. God does not call upon any of us to watch our brethren, and to repent of their sins. He has left us a work to do, and calls upon us to do it resolutely, in his fear, with an eye single to his glory. RH July 13, 1886, par. 3

Every one must give to God an account of himself, not of others, whether he is faithful or otherwise. Seeing faults in other professors, and condemning their course, will not excuse or offset one error of ours. We should not make others our criterion, nor excuse anything in our course because, others have done wrong. God has given us consciences for ourselves. Great principles have been laid down in his word, which are sufficient to guide us in our Christian walk and general deportment. Those have not kept the principles of the law of God who have never felt the burden of the duty devolving upon man to his fellow-men. RH July 13, 1886, par. 4

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him: and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” RH July 13, 1886, par. 5

Here the conditions of inheriting eternal life are plainly stated by our Saviour in the most simple manner. The man wounded and robbed represents those who are subjects of our interest, sympathy, and charity. If we neglect the cases of the needy and the unfortunate that are brought under our notice, no matter who they may be, we have no assurance of eternal life; for we do not answer the claims that God has upon us. We are not compassionate and pitiful to humanity, because they may not be kith or kin to us. All such are found transgressors of the second great commandment, upon which the last six commandments depend. Whosoever offendeth in one point, he is guilty of all. Those who do not open their hearts to the wants and sufferings of humanity, will not open their hearts to the claims of God stated in the first four precepts of the decalogue. Idols claim the heart and affections, and God is not honored and does not reign supreme. RH July 13, 1886, par. 6

Some are quite exact in some things, yet neglect the weightier matters—judgment, mercy, and the love of God. Although the customs of the world are no criterion for us, yet the pitying sympathy and the benevolence of the world for the unfortunate, in many cases, shame the professed followers of Jesus Christ. Many manifest indifference to the cases of those whom God has thrown in their midst for the purpose of testing and proving them, and developing what is in their hearts. God reads. He marks every act of selfishness, every act of indifference to the afflicted, the widows, and the fatherless; and he writes against their names, Guilty, wanting, law-breakers. We shall be rewarded as our works have been. Any neglect of duty to the needy and to the afflicted is a neglect of duty to Christ in the person of his saints. RH July 13, 1886, par. 7

When the cases of all come in review before God, the question, What did they profess? is never asked, but, What have they done? Have they been doers of the word? Have they lived for themselves? or have they been exercised in works of benevolence, in deeds of kindness, in love, preferring others before themselves, and denying themselves that they might bless others? If the record shows that this has been their life, that their characters have been marked with tenderness, self-denial, and benevolence, they will receive the blessed assurance and benediction from Christ, “Well done,” “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Christ has been grieved and wounded by our marked selfish love, and indifference to the woes and needs of others. RH July 13, 1886, par. 8

Many times our efforts may be disregarded and apparently lost upon others. But this should be no excuse for us to become weary in well-doing. How often has Jesus come to find fruit upon the plants of his care, and found nothing but leaves! We may be disappointed as to the result of our best efforts; but this should not lead us to be indifferent to others’ woes, and to do nothing. “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” How often is Christ disappointed in those who profess to be his children! He has given them unmistakable evidences of his love. He became poor, that through his poverty we might be made rich. He died for us, that we might not perish, but have eternal life. What if Christ had refused to bear our iniquity because he was rejected by many, and so few appreciated his love and the infinite blessings he came to bring to them? We need to encourage patient, painstaking efforts. Courage is now wanted, not lazy despondency and fretful murmuring. We are in this world to do work for the Master, and not to study our inclination and pleasure, and to serve and glorify ourselves. Why, then, should we be inactive and discouraged because we do not see the immediate results we desire? RH July 13, 1886, par. 9

Our work is to toil in the vineyard of the Lord, not merely for ourselves, but for the good of others. Our influence is a blessing or a curse to others. We are here to form perfect characters for heaven. We have something to do besides repining and murmuring at God's providence, and writing bitter things against ourselves. Our adversary will not allow us to rest. If we are indeed God's children, we shall be harassed and sorely beset; and we need not expect that Satan or those under his influence will treat us well. But there are angels who excel in strength, who will be with us in all our conflicts, if we will only be faithful. Christ conquered Satan in our behalf in the wilderness of temptation. He is mightier than Satan, and he will shortly bruise him under our feet. RH July 13, 1886, par. 10

Our spiritual strength and blessing will be proportionate to the labor of love and good works which we perform. The injunction of the apostle is, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Keeping the commandments of God requires of us good works, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and devotion for the good of others; not that our good works alone can save us, but that we surely cannot be saved without good works. After we have done all that we are capable of doing, we are then to say, We have done no more than our duty, and at best are unprofitable servants, unworthy of the smallest favor from God. Christ must be our righteousness, and the crown of our rejoicing. RH July 13, 1886, par. 11

All must be lost who will not arouse themselves and work with Christ. Many encase themselves in cold, unfeeling, unsympathizing armor. There is but little life and warmth in their associations with others. They live for themselves, not for Jesus Christ. They are careless and indifferent to the needs and conditions of others less fortunate than themselves. All around us there are those who have soul hunger, and who long for love expressed in words and deeds. Friendly sympathy and real feelings of tender interest for others would bring to our souls blessings that we have never yet experienced, and would bring us into close relation to our Redeemer, whose advent to the world was for the purpose of doing good, and whose life we are to copy. What are we doing for Christ? “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” RH July 13, 1886, par. 12