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Mind, Character and Personality, volume 1

Chapter 30

Selfishness and Self-centeredness

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By Nature We Are Self-centered.-Naturally we are self-centered and opinionated. But when we learn the lessons that Christ desires to teach us, we become partakers of His nature; henceforth we live His life. The wonderful example of Christ, the matchless tenderness with which He entered into the feelings of others, weeping with those who wept, rejoicing with those who rejoiced, must have a deep influence upon the character of all who follow Him in sincerity. By kindly words and acts they will try to make the path easy for weary feet.-The Ministry of Healing, 157, 158 (1905).

Selfishness Contracts the Intellect.-Selfish interest must ever be made subordinate; for if given room to act, it becomes a controlling power which contracts the intellect, hardens the heart, and weakens the moral power. Then disappointment comes. The man has divorced himself from God and sold himself to unworthy pursuits. He cannot be happy, for he cannot respect himself. He has lowered himself in his own estimation. He is an intellectual failure.-MS 21, 1899.

Selfishness the Cause of Human Guilt.-Selfishness is the want [lack] of Christlike humility, and its existence is the bane of human happiness, the cause of human guilt, and it leads those who cherish it to make shipwreck of faith.-Lt 28, 1888.

Confuses the Senses.-Today, as in Christ's day, Satan rules the minds of many. Oh, that his terrible, fearful work could be discerned and resisted! Selfishness has perverted principles, selfishness has confused the senses and clouded the judgment. It seems so strange that notwithstanding all the light that is shining from God's blessed Word, there should be such strange ideas held, such a departure from the spirit and practice of truth.

The desire to grasp large wages, with a determination to deprive others of their God-given rights, has its origin in Satan's mind, and by their obedience to his will and way men place themselves under his banner. Little dependence can be placed on those that have been taken in this snare, unless they are thoroughly converted and renovated; for they have been leavened by wrong principles which they could not perceive were deleterious in their effect.-SpT Series A, No. 10, p 26, Feb 6, 1896. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 392, 393.)

Talk Less of Self (counsel to one who was overbearing and dictatorial).-Let your heart be softened and melted under the divine influence of the Spirit of God. You should not talk so much about yourself, for this will strengthen no one. You should not make yourself a center and imagine that you must be constantly caring for yourself and leading others to care for you. Get your mind off from yourself into a more healthy channel. Talk of Jesus, and let self go; let it be submerged in Christ, and let this be the language of your heart: "I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Galatians 2:20). Jesus will be to you a present help in every time of need. He will not leave you to battle with the powers of darkness alone. Oh, no; He has laid help upon One that is mighty to save to the uttermost.-Testimonies for the Church 2:320, 321 (1869).

Beware of Self-sympathy.-Cease sympathizing with yourself, and remember the world's Redeemer. Consider the infinite sacrifice He has made in behalf of man, and think of His disappointment that after He has made such a sacrifice in man's behalf, man should choose to ally himself with those who hate Christ and righteousness and should become one with them in the indulgence of perverted appetite, thus bringing eternal ruin to his soul.-Testimonies for the Church 5:508 (1889).

Living for Self Dishonors God.-The perils of the last days are upon us. Those who live to please and gratify self are dishonoring the Lord. He cannot work through them, for they would misrepresent Him before those who are ignorant of the truth.... God may see that you are fostering pride. He may see that it is necessary to remove from you blessings which, instead of improving, you have used for the gratification of selfish pride.-MS 24, 1904. (Selected Messages 1:87.)

Self-complacency Indicates Spiritual Need.-Some are not willing to do self-denying work. They show real impatience when urged to take some responsibility. "What need is there," say they, "of an increase of knowledge and experience?"

This explains it all. They feel that they are "rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing," while Heaven pronounces them poor, miserable, blind, and naked. To these the True Witness says, "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see" (Revelation 3:17, 18). Your very self-complacency shows you to be in need of everything. You are spiritually sick and need Jesus as your physician.-Testimonies for the Church 5:265 (1882).

Dangers in Self-flattery.-It is difficult for us to understand ourselves, to have a correct knowledge of our own characters. The Word of God is plain, but often there is an error in applying it to one's self. There is liability to self-deception and to think its warnings and reproofs do not mean me. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). Self-flattery may be construed into Christian emotion and zeal. Self-love and confidence may give us assurance that we are right when we are far from meeting the requirements of God's Word.-Testimonies for the Church 5:332 (1885).

Ruinous Influence of Self-exaltation on Mind.-So deep is the impression of self-exaltation in the human heart, so great the desire for human power, that with many mind and heart and soul become absorbed with the idea of ruling and commanding. Nothing can destroy this ruinous influence upon the human mind but seeking the Lord for heavenly eyesight. Only the power of divine grace can make man understand his true position and accomplish for him the work essential to be wrought in the heart.-Lt 412, 1907.

Avoiding Extremes of Self-confidence (counsel to an executive).-If you form too high an opinion of yourself, you will think that your labors are of more real consequence than they are, and you will plead individual independence which borders on arrogance. If you go to the other extreme and form too low an opinion of yourself, you will feel inferior and will leave an impression of inferiority which will greatly limit the influence that you might have for good. You should avoid either extreme. Feeling should not control you; circumstances should not affect you. You may form a correct estimate of yourself, one which will prove a safeguard from both extremes. You may be dignified without vain self-confidence; you may be condescending and yielding without sacrificing self-respect or individual independence, and your life may be of great influence with those in the higher as well as the lower walks of life.-Testimonies for the Church 3:506 (1875).

Self-centeredness Fosters Disease (a personal message).-Your efforts should be earnest and thorough and persevering in order for you to succeed. You must learn as a follower of Christ to control every expression of fretfulness and passion. Your mind is too much centered upon yourself. You talk too much of yourself, of your infirmities of body.

Your own course is daily bringing upon you disease through your own wrong habits. The apostle entreats his brethren to consecrate their bodies to God. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:1, 2).-Lt 27, 1872.

Self-centeredness Affects Perception (another personal message).-You can help us, my brother, in many ways. But I am commissioned of the Lord to say to you that you are not to be self-centered. Take heed how you hear, how you understand, and how you appropriate the Word of God. The Lord will bless you in drawing in even lines with your brethren. Those whom He has sent forth to proclaim the third angel's message have been working in unison with the heavenly intelligences. The Lord does not lay upon you a burden to proclaim a message that will bring discord into the ranks of believers. I repeat, He is not leading anyone by His Holy Spirit to frame a theory that will unsettle faith in the solemn messages He has given His people to bear to our world.-MS 32, 1896. (Selected Messages 2:115).

The Grace of Self-forgetfulness to Be Taught Every Child.-One of the characteristics that should be especially cherished and cultivated in every child is that self-forgetfulness which imparts to the life such an unconscious grace. Of all excellences of character this is one of the most beautiful, and for every true lifework it is one of the qualifications most essential.-Education, 237 (1903).

Self-forgetfulness the Basis of True Greatness.-It was not enough for the disciples of Jesus to be instructed as to the nature of His kingdom. What they needed was a change of heart that would bring them into harmony with its principles. Calling a little child to Him, Jesus set him in the midst of them; then tenderly folding the little one in His arms, He said, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." The simplicity, the self-forgetfulness, and the confiding love of a little child are the attributes that Heaven values. These are the characteristics of real greatness.-The Desire of Ages, 437 (1898).

Self-expiation the Principle of Prayer in False Religions.-The heathen looked upon their prayers as having in themselves merit to atone for sin. Hence the longer the prayer the greater the merit. If they could become holy by their own efforts, they would have something in themselves in which to rejoice, some ground for boasting. This idea of prayer is an outworking of the principle of self-expiation which lies at the foundation of all systems of false religion. The Pharisees had adopted this pagan idea of prayer, and it is by no means extinct in our day, even among those who profess to be Christians. The repetition of set, customary phrases when the heart feels no need of God is of the same character as the "vain repetitions" of the heathen.-Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 86 (1896).

No Self-assertion in the Life of Christ.-In His life no self-assertion was to be mingled. The homage which the world gives to position, to wealth, and to talent was to be foreign to the Son of God. None of the means that men employ to win allegiance or to command homage was the Messiah to use. His utter renunciation of self was foreshadowed in the words: "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench."-Prophets and Kings, 692, 693 (1917).

God's Remedy for Selfishness and Self-exaltation.-There is in man a disposition to esteem himself more highly than his brother, to work for self, to seek the highest place; and often this results in evil surmisings and bitterness of spirit. The ordinance [foot washing] preceding the Lord's Supper is to clear away these misunderstandings, to bring man out of his selfishness, down from his stilts of self-exaltation, to the humility of heart that will lead him to serve his brother.

The Holy Watcher from heaven is present at this season to make it one of soul searching, of conviction of sin, and of the blessed assurance of sins forgiven. Christ in the fullness of His grace is there to change the current of the thoughts that have been running in selfish channels. The Holy Spirit quickens the sensibilities of those who follow the example of their Lord.

As the Saviour's humiliation for us is remembered, thought links with thought; a chain of memories is called up, memories of God's great goodness and of the favor and tenderness of earthly friends. Blessings forgotten, mercies abused, kindnesses slighted, are called to mind. Roots of bitterness that have crowded out the precious plant of love are made manifest. Defects of character, neglect of duties, ingratitude to God, coldness toward our brethren, are called to remembrance. Sin is seen in the light in which God views it. Our thoughts are not thoughts of self-complacency but of severe self-censure and humiliation. The mind is energized to break down every barrier that has caused alienation. Evil-thinking and evilspeaking are put away. Sins are confessed, they are forgiven. The subduing grace of Christ comes into the soul, and the love of Christ draws hearts together in a blessed unity.-The Desire of Ages, 650, 651 (1898).