by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: Romans 12:3-16
I. Several years ago, Whitney Houston, came on the music scene with a song that became her signature song, “The Greatest Love of All.”
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs. A lonely place to be.
And so I learned to depend on me.
I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow.
If I failed, if I succeed, at least I’d live as I believe.
No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity.
Because the greatest love of all is happening to me.
I found the greatest love of all inside of me.
The greatest love of all is easy to agree.
Learning to love yourself, it’s the greatest love of all.
A. It became an anthem of self-empowerment, but it is actually a reflection of our self-centered age.
1. One person found a listing of 2,400 books on improving one’s self-esteem.
B. People speak constantly about the lack of self-esteem as if it was a missing component of a person’s personality
1. Self-love is not a need, but a problem - II Timothy 3:1-2
2. It is not the greatest love of all, but the greatest peril. Self-love is not true love - I Corinthians 13:4-5 (note it does not seek its own).
C. Some argue problems are caused by people who don’t love themselves enough
1. The Bible says no one hates himself - Ephesians 5:28-29
2. Romans 13:8-10 - The basis of loving your neighbor as yourself is the assumption each of us loves ourselves.
D. We all start as selfish creatures.
1. Everything is done for us. Everything is done as we demand.
2. But as a child grows, he should move from self-centeredness to a love and concern for others.
3. The sad thing is many never leave self behind.
II. The effect of selfishness
1. No one can make you more miserable than yourself.
2. Haman was a man of great power in the Persian empire. He had riches, honor, and power. Yet he was miserable - Esther 5:9-13
a. Haman’s love for himself made him miserable when one man did not acknowledge him.
b. Ultimately, Haman destroyed himself trying to destroy Mordecai.
3. “How to be Miserable” Author Unknown
Think about yourself. Talk about yourself. Use “I” as often as possible. Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others. Listen greedily to what people say about you. Expect to be appreciated. Be suspicious. Be jealous and envious. Be sensitive to slights. Never forgive a criticism. Trust nobody but yourself. Insist on consideration and respect. Demand agreement with your own views on everything. Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them. Never forget a service you have rendered. Shirk your duties if you can. Do as little as possible for others.
1. The song we quoted at the beginning noted that self-love was a lonely place to be.
2. It is not good for man to be alone - Genesis 2:18
3. The lonely person is weak - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
1. Decay of Israel was displayed in selfish greed - Isaiah 56:11
2. They are like black holes which can only take and are never filled. Read words from “There is a Sea” (#654)
D. Unable to serve the Lord - Philippians 2:20-21
III. Leave yourself behind
A. A preacher was concerned why a person with whom he was studying did not seem to be making progress. As he spoke of his problem to a fellow preacher, he was asked, “How many times did he make reference to himself?” As he thought back on all his conversations, he realized the young man was always referring to himself – what he wanted to do, why he couldn’t overcome his weaknesses, and his failures. He was so preoccupied with himself that there was little room for God or his fellow men. His self-centeredness was the main hindrance to his spiritual growth.
B. We cannot seek our own good - I Corinthians 10:24, 33
1. What a contrast to Ricky Nelson’s song “Garden Party” where he said, “Can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”
2. We cannot please ourselves - Romans 15:1-3
3. Look out for the interest of others - Philippians 2:3-4
C. A seed must die to itself before it can grow.
1. Look at the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Which of these does not have selfishness at its roots?
2. We cannot be saved by putting ourselves first - Matthew 16:24-25
3. We cannot be a disciple unless we hate our own life - Luke 14:26
D. We need others
1. We need others to grow - Proverbs 27:17
2. We need others to fill in our gaps - I Corinthians 12:14-18
E. No longer live for yourself - II Corinthians 5:14-15