Once again we want to look at sin and how serious it is. It is more serious than sickness; worse than cancer, leprosy, aids, and all put together. Once you understand that, you will have a great longing to be free from all sin.
In this study let us look at a passage from Luke 10. Jesus told a story here about a man who was beaten up by thieves, as he was travelling on a road, and he was left lying there half dead. Two religious people - one a priest, and the other one, a sort of an assistant (Levite) to the priest passed by that road. They just walked past that man, on the other side of the road, and left him there. They went on to the temple to carry on with their religious services! After that, another man came that way, a Samaritan. He was neither a priest nor a religious type of person. He was just an ordinary person, an ordinary sinner. But he had compassion on this poor person lying half dead there. He lifted him up, bandaged his wounds and took care of him. He even paid for the expenses for putting up that injured person in a little hotel. He told the hotel keeper, 'Take care of him and I will give you more, if you have to spend more on him.' Jesus then asked, 'Which of these three proved to be a neighbour (Lk. 10:36). The answer is obvious.
Religious people, sometimes, are very, very selfish. Jesus spoke here about a sin, which is again not listed in the Ten Commandments. It is the sin of selfishness. We have been looking, in our last two studies, about the sins that Jesus hated the most. What are the sins that Jesus hated the most? We saw, first of all, hypocrisy, and then we saw, pride, and here, we see another one, selfishness - thinking only about ourselves. You know, we can be very, very religious; religious enough to be a priest or a bishop or even an archbishop and still be thoroughly selfish. That priest, who was supposed to be representing God, all he was interested was in his religious ceremony and not helping the poor person in his need. When our life is like that, it does not bring us the approval of God. We can be very upright in a whole lot of external things. We can think that God is very happy with us, because we do all those external things so correctly and that we have a good testimony before men, and we keep very accurately the external rituals of our religion. Maybe you are even an elder in your local church or a pastor or whatever it is, but if there is selfishness in your life, I want to tell you, Jesus hates selfishness. He hates a life that is only interested in self.
Now we are all born selfish by nature. We are not born thinking about others. Think of little children in our homes as they grow up. They don't automatically know how to share their toys with others. No, you have to teach them that. Naturally speaking, they are selfish; they will fight for the best toy, the biggest toy, the biggest piece of cake in the plate and things like that. That is their nature. Only when we grow up, we don't fight in such a crude way (for the biggest piece of cake), but we still like it. Inwardly we haven't changed; our selfishness is now more subtle. People don't see it so obviously. And we seek it in cleverer ways.
So, when we see selfishness as a sin just like the sins of hypocrisy and pride, we would realize that Jesus came to save us from our sin. If Jesus hasn't saved you from selfishness, what type of saviour is He? If he has saved you only from gambling and drunkenness, that is not much of a salvation, is it? Because, a lot of people out in the world have that, without Jesus Christ; they also do not gamble or drink. What does it prove? Many Christians are glorying in the fact that they don't commit certain external sins. Then I can show you ten other people in the world who don't commit those sins also, who don't have Christ in their lives. So what type of salvation has this Christian experienced?
That is why, we need to see this sin the way Jesus defined it, not just external, but inward primarily: Hypocrisy, as we saw first, then pride, and here selfishness. That means you see a person in need whom you can help, but you are not bothered. You think only of yourself and your family. It could be in relation to salvation: 'Oh I am saved, my family is saved; it doesn't matter if anybody else is saved.' Then I never seek to be a witness of Christ to others. Think, my dear friend, you who are born again, you who know there is no way of salvation outside of Jesus Christ. You know that there is no way to go into God's kingdom except in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. You know that being born in a Christian family never takes you into God's kingdom. You have to repent and accept Christ as your Saviour and Lord. You are saved and maybe your family members are saved too. Do you have any concern at all for all the other people around you? I am not talking about people who are living 10000 miles away, whom you will never meet. No, I am talking about people you work with, your neighbours, your relatives, people whom you meet regularly, who are on their way into eternal hell. Are you concerned about them? Are you selfish?
Selfishness is a sin - to be thinking only in terms of myself. Something is fundamentally wrong. If I say I have partaken in the God's nature and I am still selfish, I am just deceiving myself, because God's nature is totally unselfish. Why did Jesus come to earth? What have we seen in Jesus' life? He was never interested in himself. He came entirely for the sake of others. The reason why many of us, Christians, are so poor spiritually, and not blessed by God, as we can be blessed, because this sin clings to us. Jesus once said these words in Acts 20:35,"It is more blessed to give than to receive." Those are words spoken by Jesus, not found in the gospels but Paul mentions it. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The one who is always thinking of receiving is a selfish man. The one who thinks of giving, he is a person who is concerned about others. What does he give? He gives to someone in need what he himself has. It could be material things or it could be spiritual. Supposing I have received something spiritual from God that has radically changed my life. You know, immediately it places me in debt to everybody else. I have to give it to them what they haven't got.
Think of another story that Jesus spoke in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus. There was this rich man who had plenty of everything in this world and who dressed royally and lived in grand style. At his gate was his brother Lazarus. Brother because every one of those Jews was child of Abraham. You read later on, after his death, that the rich man said, 'Father Abraham' in Luke 16:24. He was a descendant of Abraham and so was Lazarus. In that sense, Lazarus was his brother and he did not care. He went past that gate so many times and saw the dogs licking Lazarus' sores and he never helped him one bit, just like the priest and the Levite. Finally both of them died. Jesus said that the rich man went to hell. Why did he go to hell? Maybe he paid his tithes regularly, but he still went to hell. Maybe the great religious leaders of his time - the priests and bishops came to his funeral and said that he was a great man, but the man himself went to hell and Lazarus went to heaven.
Why did that rich man go to hell? - Because he did not have faith. How do I know he did not have faith? James 2:14 says, if you have faith, the proof of it is, it will be seen in your works. James further says, "If you say that you believe in God, and you see your brother or sister without clothing and in need of daily food, and you just say, 'Praise the Lord and God bless you' and you don't give him what is necessary. What's the use of that" (Js. 2:15, 16)? Such faith is dead (Js. 2:17). That is not living faith.
Salvation is by faith and that rich man did not have faith. The proof of it was that there were no works. There was no concern for others. What God had given him, he thought, was his own. It was not his own. God had given him wealth so that he could help other people who are needy. Do you know that everything we have is given by God? And it is given to us to see whether we would share it with others or just live selfishly ourselves. The same thing applies spiritually. Whatever God has given me spiritually, I am in debt to the rest of the world to share it with them, at least in the circle that I move. Jesus said, as I said earlier, it is more blessed to give than to receive. I have received something form God, that is good, I am blessed. But Jesus said that I would be more blessed if I give to another person that which I have received. If I give to another person, the message that saved my life, that forgave my sin, that brought me into victory or whatever it is, I will experience a greater blessing.
So if you want to have a greater blessing, I want to encourage you to listen to this word of Jesus - "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Because when you follow that word, you will find something you have never experienced so far in your life; the blessing that comes through giving. The Bible says the liberal man shall be made fat and the one who waters others will be watered also himself. So let us learn to hate this sin of selfishness that Jesus hates and we shall find abundant life.