The Problem Of Self

by Gene Taylor

Those who comprise our society seem to be consumed with self. The "me" generation we heard so much of has aged to become the most influential segment of society. So many of the products and services which are popular today are those which are aimed at improving the individual. The "self-help" books and seminars intended to improve self-image have been embraced by nearly everyone. "Infomercials" abound on television for all sorts of fitness gadgets so individuals can not only stay healthy but also develop that physique which allows one to be proud of self and the way he/she looks. A majority of the adult population in this country is on some sort of diet all the time in order to meet the ideal, not of the American Medical Association, but the fashion world or their peers. While many of these things are, in reality, harmless enough in and of themselves, there is a darker side to emphasis on self.

Many of the ills which plague our society are rooted in self. You name it—theft, murder, immorality, etc.—while often blamed on a "poor self image" are really rooted in self.

As a nation we have become obsessed with "rights" with little or no regard as to their effects upon others. Consider the pro-choice advocates-they demand their individual rights "to do with their bodies what they choose," while at the same time showing no regard for the child. This fact is illustrated by an excerpt from an article which appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on April 5, 1994. In commenting on the child she had aborted, a woman said, "It wasn't a fetus. It was like a cancer. It was, 'OK, get this out of me and let's get on with my life.'" Self was the only one for whom she had any consideration.

The problem of self is neither new nor peculiar to our time. From Eden to eternity the chief cause of sin has been self and selfishness. It is at the root of all sin. "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." (Jas. 1:13-15).

When it comes to sin, who is our biggest enemy? We might be quick to say that it is Satan. He is described in 1 Peter 5:8 as a "roaring lion" who walks about seeing whom he may devour. Actually, though, he can only overcome those who through self-will give themselves over to him. Someone has said, "To conquer self is to conquer all." We are prone to blame Satan and others but we must look to self.

The proper attitude toward self is a sign of maturity. We can somewhat condone selfishness in a child because he does not know better but immaturity and ignorance are never excuses for an adult, especially one who claims to be a Christian, to be selfish in his attitudes and actions (Acts 17:30).

I hope you will thoughtfully consider this article—for to be a successful Christian, one must heed the command of Jesus in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."

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