The Problem with Self
"You should know this, that in the last days, there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves . . ."
We are living in a culture that is completely self-absorbed. Consider these stats:
- The Incidence of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their twenties as for the generation that's now 65 or older.
- 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982.
- 40% of Millennials believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance.
In the 1970s, people wanted to improve their kids' chances, so the "self-esteem" movement was born. We were told that all of the social ills of the day were due to low self-esteem, and that we all needed to learn to love ourselves more.
As one expert said, "The problem is that when people tried to boost self-esteem, they boosted narcissism instead. All that self-esteem leads them to be disappointed when the world refuses to affirm how great they know they are."
So, we enter into our marriages saying things like: "What's in it for me?" and "What about my needs?" This leads to such inane statements as "I'm no longer happy in this marriage," and "I need to find myself!"
Where does this selfishness come from? "Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves" (James 4:1–2 MSG).
This is something the Bible says would be a sign of the end times: "You should know this, that in the last days, there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves . . ." (2 Timothy 3:1–2 NLT).
So, what is the antidote to selfishness? It is selflessness!
Philippians 2:2–8 tells us, "Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross" (NLT).