Undue Emphasis On Self

by Gene Taylor

As previously noted, the Bible has a lot to say about self and how one is to view himself in relation to God and others. If a person would follow its teachings, his attitude toward self would be what it should be and many of his problems would be solved and pressures eased. When one follows the course of the world and gives undue emphasis to self, he not only adds to his problems now but also places his soul in peril.

What are those problems one can expect if he is self-centered?

Self-centeredness. This occurs when a person is absorbed in self. No one enjoys a self-centered person. It is easy to see when others are self-centered. Sometimes, though, it is hard to recognize in self.

Self-conceit. This is an exaggerated estimation of one's own ability or powers, an overconfidence in self. When one is conceited, he is full of pride. God hates pride and resists the proud (Prov. 16:18; James 4:6,10; Luke 18:14). We are not to think too highly of self (Rom. 12:3).

Self-willed. One who is self-willed is stubborn, set on having his own way. One such person was Jonah. He knew the will of God but fled so he would not have to do it. The Jews who stoned Stephen were identified as "stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears" (Acts 7:51-53). That means that they stubbornly clung to their own will rather than submitting to the will of God.

Self-indulgence. This is giving free course to one's own passions and inclinations. Self-indulgence is a sin which leads one from God. Demas, who had once been a faithful disciple and a dedicated co-worker of the apostle Paul, had forsaken the Lord and the apostle because he "loved" the present world and indulged himself in its pleasures (2 Tim. 4:10).

Self-righteousness. This is being righteous in one's own eyes. It was a trait of the Pharisees (Luke 18:9 -14; Rom. 10:1-3). It prompted them to accuse Jesus of eating with sinners (Matt. 9:10-12). They could see that everyone else were sinners but they could not see their own sins. To be pleasing to God, one must humbly acknowledge his own sinfulness.

Self-satisfaction. This is being pleased with who and what one is. The world seeks to instill this attitude in everyone. Great care is often taken so that nothing will damage the self-image of children. The satisfied person has reached his goal. He has no other worlds to conquer, no loftier heights to scale and no greater work to do. His journey can only be downward. On the other hand, one cannot establish bounds for the person who is not satisfied with himself and his accomplishments. Sadly, even Christians are guilty of this sin. Their guilt is seen in acceptance of mediocrity in relation to Christ and their service to Him. The church at Sardis was rebuked for their indifference (Rev. 3:1f). Do not be self-satisfied. Be like Paul—always seeking to be better, always striving to do more (Phil. 3:13-14; 1 Cor. 10:12).

Do not allow these problems to exist in your life. Let the Word of God be your guide and permit it to mold you in the image of Christ by denying self and living for Him.

For further study