Selfishness and Missions
by Robert Breaker III
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We live in a day and age of selfishness. Everybody wants something new (just like the Athenians in Acts 17). Or else they don't want to give away what they have to help others in need (like Laodicea in Rev. 3). The Charismatic doctrines of "prosperity" and "success" have crept into the true church of God. It used to be that Christians wanted to live for God and suffer for his sake in order for God to have his will in their lives. But, now "Christians" in this day and age only use God as a means to get what they want. To many, God is just a tool to help them gain riches and material possessions. This "Gospel of Prosperity" is raping our churches by teaching people that Christianity isn't about giving something to others, it's about getting things from God. They teach that if one does good, then God will give them stuff. But, God isn't interested in stuff. God is interested in your attitude and your heart. If all you want is stuff, then you are a very wicked and selfish individual.
The classic motto of today is: "What's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours!" Many people today say "Me first, you next!" I would go even further to say that now they even cry: "Me first, and you next, maybe!" It all depends on how they feel in whether or not they will let you be next. How selfish our world has become! And this selfishness has crept into our churches. Our churches are full of "selfish Christians" who are anything but spiritual. They are carnal and worldly persons who are stingy in their giving. They would rather get than give. Instead of giving a blessing, they only want to receive blessing for themselves. Why is this?
It used to be that a "Christian" was someone who believed in giving. That was what Christian love was all about. John 3:16 said, "For God so loved the world that he GAVE..." God gave us his only begotten son, who in turn gave himself for us on the cross as an example of what a Christian should be and do. Then in turn, the apostles gave their lives for Christ, and the sake of the gospel. And throughout history, true Christians have given all to follow Christ and spread his gospel midst persecution, trials, and tribulations. They were not afraid of a little pain, or suffering. They willingly went through some things just for the opportunity to give the gospel to others, and they counted it an honor to do so. Theirs was not a life of selfishness, theirs was a life of sacrifice for the sake of the light of the glorious gospel of truth. A true Christian is not someone who gives just a little, and at their leisure, but is someone who in turn gives all that he can, and gives it sacrificially to others in Christ-like love.
But oh how times have changed! It is not about others anymore. Now it is about "self." Nowadays, children are shipped off to public schools to learn about "self-esteem" (which is nothing more than pride). They learn to "appreciate themselves" and evaluate their "self-worth." They are taught to "find themselves" and "get to know themselves." All this leads to a generation of wicked, ungodly, hell bound sinners that only think about themselves and not others. They are SELFISH!
If you rearrange the letters in the word SELFISH, you get the words "IS FLESH." That's all selfishness is. It is giving in to the Flesh and allowing yourself to be run by its desires. Yet as a Christian, we need to put down our flesh. We are commanded to walk in the Spirit (the Holy Spirit of God) that we fulfill not the desires of the flesh. The problem with the world today is that we have hundreds, yea thousands, yea even millions of people who claim to be Christians, but are walking after the flesh, and not in the Spirit. They are carnal, fleshly, and worldly. It is for this reason that they have become selfish. For carnality always breeds selfishness.
In reality, selfishness is nothing more than sinful pride. And with it comes the feeling that one deserves something. But, what does anyone really deserve? All a sinner deserves is hell and the lake of fire for his ungodly sins. Everything else is the Grace of God. When one starts thinking he deserves something, or that God owes him something, then he has allowed himself to be deceived by satan. For God owes no man anything. If the truth be known, a Christian owes God everything. Eternal Life (salvation) is a free gift of God. Did you ever stop to think that if it could be earned, then God would be in debt to those who earned it. But God is in debt to no man. We who are saved, are in debt to Him, and owe Him our very lives for saving our souls! A man or woman who begins thinking that they deserve something or that God owes them something is one who has allowed themselves to become selfish and prideful. They need to repent of this evil, and get right with God. The need to get busy giving more of themselves to God, and working for Him in taking the gospel glory to the lost and dying world.
As I read the book of Acts and see the early church fathers, I see that so much of their lives were devoted to "unselfish giving." Yet today, so many Christians devote their time to "selfish getting." Instead of giving "sacrificially," as the early church did, they only give of their abundance, and then only if they have to. They give for all different reasons. Some give because it's a tax write off, and by giving a big offering, it will save them money in the long run. (That is the epitome of selfishness). Others give to be seen of man. Just like the Pharisees, they want to look spiritual on the outside, but never change their dirty, wicked heart on the inside. Still others give because they are in the habit of doing so, or they feel that it's something they have to do. It's not because they want to give, it's that they feel they must give in order for God to accept them. But, What saith the scriptures? 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." God's not looking at what is given (as men do), nor is he looking at how often it's given. God is looking at the heart of the giver to find out why it is given. God wants us to give to him because we love him. Isn't that so simple? I believe God is looking at your heart to see if you are selfish, or unselfish when it comes to Him and His work. Are you willing to give all you have, all your time, and yea, even yourself to God for the work he has for you to do?
First you must give God your heart. Then everything else will follow. Proverbs 23:26 says, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." Christian, have you given God your heart?
Now let's turn our attention to the topic at hand – Missions Giving. I believe people are very selfish when it comes to giving to Missions in three ways. Let's briefly look at each of them. First, I believe that the church today is selfish when it comes to giving their funds. So many churches today have left off giving money to Missions. And, those who do give to Missions, don't do it sacrificially. They give of their abundance, and keep the majority for themselves. This is not true giving. Jesus didn't give part of himself on the cross, he gave his all. The apostles didn't give part of themselves to God. They gave of themselves sacrificially to serve the living God. And this is what Christians need to learn to do today. As one pastor said, "Don't give til it hurts, give until it feels good!" And, the more you give to God, the better you'll feel knowing that it is to further the gospel.
Sadly, most Christians never know what "sacrificial giving" is. Nor do they ever understand what it means to "give till it feels good!" While the Missionary suffers in a foreign land, Christians are living it up in America with all their fancy cars, nice homes, etc. All they care about are themselves, and not the work of God. Whatever happened to the time when Christians "had all things common" (Acts 4:2). I say that Christians need to sacrifice more for the sake of the gospel. They need to give more to God, and get less for themselves. They need to realize that it is a privilege to tell the world about Jesus Christ and his glorious gospel, and they must give more to help its furtherance. David said in 1 Sam. 17:29, "Is there not a cause?" I say unto you, Yea there is a cause! The greatest cause of all – the Salvation of the Human Soul! And you can have a part in spreading that cause. Not only that, you will get rewarded for it at the Judgment Seat of Christ! Have you any rewards there now dear Christian?
I remember one preacher said, "Some of you will give more money to the Anti-Christ than you ever have to Jesus Christ when the rapture comes." He further explained that most Christians put up all their riches down here on this earth in a bank somewhere. And, rather than give it to Christ Jesus and Missions, they save it all for themselves. But, when the rapture comes, they can't take it with them! And, who will get this money? Why it will help the Anti-Christ come to power! What a horrid and sobering thought! Christian, will you do more to give more to Missions?
Money isn't everything. I believe Paul said it best when he penned the following words in 1 Tim 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Money will not only get your eyes off of God and Missions, but it will bring sorrow also, as you look to it for your sustenance rather than God. The best thing to do with your money is to give it to Missions, so you can be rewarded for it in Glory.
I remember the profound and wonderful words of my pastor as he said to us in church, "In this life, the only thing you can keep is what you give away!" But, oh how few Christians believe this. They want to get everything now, and do not think about the hereafter. Dear Christian reader, will you "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth?" (Col. 3:2). Why not follow the scriptures in Matthew 6:19,20:
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal
Now let us come to our second point. Not only can one lay up treasures in heaven by giving of your treasure here on earth to the work of evangelizing the lost. But, the Christian can win crowns, jewels, and precious stones in Glory for his service for Christ as well. This is why they must not be selfish in their free time. So many Christians spend their free time only on themselves and not for God. On Sunday mornings our churches are full, but where are the saints on Sunday night? What about Wednesday night as the attendance dwindles? What about when Visitation night rolls around? How many are excited about going out to knock on doors and tell people about the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ? How sad it is to see that Christianity has turned into something that only requires of you one day a week, instead of something that you should live and do every day of your life. Rather than "go" and preach the gospel and teach the Bible (as the Great Commission tells us to do), Christians "come" to the church house to listen to a message, then they keep that message, and never give it to anyone else. (This, my friend, is very selfish!)
We have "professing" Christians who spend their time going fishing, going out to eat every night of the week, going to the mall to buy more stuff for themselves, playing baseball, football, soccer, etc. But, when it comes time to give their time to God, they are "too tired" or "don't feel like it." I say unto you there will be hell to pay at the judgment for those who spent more free time on themselves than on God! Though they see it not here, they will see their selfishness there, and they will be ashamed. We need to be busy, as Paul so eloquently put it in Ephesians 5:16, "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." God help Christians to wake up! For it is because of their selfishness that souls are dying and going to Hell. And America is going down hill like a rocket the wrongway!
Sin is becoming more open and rampant in our world. Crime is increasing. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise. Children are being abused, molested, and uncared for. Homosexuality and Sodomites are continually increasing and recruiting others to this wicked, ungodly lifestyle. But what are Christians doing about it? They are doing nothing. By their actions they are saying, "My time is MY TIME, and I don't have time to mess with anything else. Let the preachers preach against this sin. Let the preacher win the souls. Let the preacher do it all. We'll just show up on Sunday." I say unto that is the epitome of selfishness! God called all Christians to preach the gospel. This is not something that is to be done just on Visitation night, or on selected "soulwinning" days. Everyday of our lives we need to preach against sin, we need to tell others their need to be saved, we must preach the way of salvation to the lost and dying world! But oh how many "Christians" do this. And as the wickedness and sin continues to rise it seems that more and more professing Christians are doing less and less about it. I say unto you these things ought not to be so! As the world becomes more sinful, we Christians should become more radical, fanatical, and dogmatical against it! Sadly, many so-called "professing" Christians not only are doing nothing for God, but they have joined ranks with the other side. The world has beguiled them, and deceived them into thinking that they are all that matters. And as they continue in "Vanity Fair" they will do less and less for Christ, and more and more for themselves (pure selfishness). God please wake them up!
If only Christians would give more of their time to God, they just might see more folks come to the saving knowledge of the truth. They just might get the joy of the Lord. They just might learn to live for and love Christ Jesus the Lord more than themselves. But oh how selfish is the modern day Christian!
Not only are Christians selfish with their pocketbooks, and their leisure time. They are selfish when it comes to their families also. I think of what Jesus said in Matthew 10:37: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." So many nowadays love family more than they love God. I've seen this many times. Many a man has been called by God to go to a foreign Mission field, but declined to go because his "dear little wife" told him she would not go with him. Many a woman God has laid on her heart to be a Missionary's wife, but she was unwilling to surrender because she didn't want to go too far away from "Momma." I've even seen families that when a young man surrenders to go to the other side of the world to preach the gospel, his mother or father offer to pay for him to go to this college or that college in the hopes that he'll change his mind and stay closer to home. Oh how it would hurt them to see little "Danny" leave for a country far away where they may never see him again. How selfish is this generation of sissified Christians who don't want to lose their families for the sake of the wonderful gospel of Christ!
I'm reminded of the books I've read about Missionaries from America in the 1800's, and how they would travel to different churches trying to raise support to leave the states and travel to a foreign land that has never heard the marvelous old story of the gospel of grace. If that Missionary was a single man, he could not leave a church without all the families in that church with a single, available daughter parading in front of him to shake his hand and introduce him to their little darling. Why? What was their thinking? Those families thought that if their daughter could marry a Missionary, that would be the greatest privilege in all the world. And so important to them was the light of the gospel and eternal salvation, that they were willing and even hoping for the honor of having their own daughter as a Missionary's wife. What a blessing to them it would have been to know that she was helping that man of God as he was carrying the torch of the gospel light in a foreign land.
And if the Missionary didn't marry before he went to field or if his wife died on the field, there were women in the states who would willingly forsake their own will and for the sake of the gospel give of their own lives and enter a ship bound for a foreign destination to be a helper to that Missionary so that he could continue on with the tremendously important task of taking the gospel to the natives. What about Marcus and Narcisa Whitman? Marcus said he would gladly go to Oregon territory and do his best to reach those Indians with the gospel of Christ. What did Narcisa do? Even though she didn't love him, she married him, as she too believed that the gospel was the most important thing, and all else came second to spreading it to those who have never heard.
But nowadays it is just the opposite. When a single Missionary enters a church to present his call, burden, and work, he is immediately shunned because he is not married. And those fathers with "single, available," young daughters immediately perk up, and begin to be on the defensive. Their thinking is, "Don't let that guy close to my daughter! I don't want my daughter to marry him, and go to a foreign land! I don't want her to go somewhere where she might get the AIDS virus, or get sick and die. Not my daughter!" They love their daughters so much, and the gospel so little that they aren't willing to give them to God. Nor do they believe that God and their husband would protect them in a dangerous foreign land where they could be raped, or killed, or contract illness and disease. Not to mention suffer persecution for the sake of Christ and his gospel. This is not for their daughters! No, their daughters will stay at home and go to college and learn a trade and then get a job so they too can learn to be selfish and save money and think about material things rather than spiritual. My how things have changed!
Christians have forgotten Paul's command in 1 Tim. 5:14, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." Instead families want their daughters to have an education (college) and work (get a secular job), so that they can have "the best this world has to offer." But what about the world to come? Shouldn't that be what is most important? Shouldn't the father want what's best for his little darling spiritually? And wouldn't that be to help her grow spiritually as a Christian by protecting her from the world, and seeking for her a good, godly man to protect her and provide for her while at the same time helping her to continue to grow in her Christian walk? Wouldn't it be the best thing for her if she was with a Missionary? He is trying to serve God. He is trying to win souls. And won't he have rewards in Glory? And if husband and wife are one flesh, then wouldn't she be a partaker of the same rewards as her husband?
My how Christians have changed! Their thinking used to be "The gospel comes first, and nothing else matters!" Now the gospel hardly enters into the mind of the average Christian. And if it does, it's on Sunday when they go to church, but then it quickly is forgotten as they go out into the world the rest of the week. Oh how this generation of Christians needs to get back to where the apostles were, and the early church fathers. We need to make the gospel the first and foremost thing on our minds. Sadly it is not.
Thus, the question must needs be asked: "Why are Christians today so selfish?" Also, "Why are they stingy with their wallets, time, and family?" I believe it's because they have way too much. You see, the early church carried a cross. Theirs was a cross of "Suffering." That was the cross that Christ carried as well. Yet the Church of today has its own cross. It is much lighter than that of the early church. And much lighter still than that of Christ. Today's church has a cross of "Prosperity." And what they do with that cross will determine their rewards in heaven.
Let's look at Amos chapter 6 in closing. We'll read verses 1-6:
1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David;
6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
Notice with me if you will that the problem with Israel in this passage was the exact same problem that Sodom had – they had too much, and because of it, they got their eyes on their things rather than on God (Read Ezek. 16:49). Our passage here in Amos in doctrinally talking about Israel, but I would like to spiritualize it to us today in the church. I believe with all my heart that this is where the church is today. They are at ease (vs 1), they lie upon their beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches (v4), they invent to themselves instruments of music (vs5), yet they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph (vs6). Did you see that? According to these verses, stuff kills spirituality. And the more stuff one has, the less they are greived for others. Christian, the more junk you possess, the less you will care about lost souls dying and going to Hell. Wouldn't it be better to get rid of it? Wouldn't it be better to give it to God?
I'll finish with this. I believe that the only way that the church today will get back to where it needs to be will be by "suffering" as the apostles did. "Suffering" is very important. When the early church suffered, she did more for Christ, and "turned a whole world upside down" (Acts 17:6). How did they do it? They cared more about giving (and giving the free gift of eternal life), than they did about getting. And, they were willing to suffer in order to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and dying masses. Sadly, today it is just the opposite.
The early church was poor. The church today is rich. The early church spent all of their free time in service for the King. The church today spends all of its free time on itself. And the early church forsook families and land for the gospel sake. They loved God more than their own families and more than their own selves. Yet look at the contrast we have today. The church loves themselves and their own families more than they love God almighty. God help us to get back to the early church! And God send suffering if that's what it takes to help us to become more like thee. More suffering and less selfishness is what we need to serve thee!
Now dear reader, what will you do with what you have just read? Will you continue on in your arrogant ways and feel as though you deserve all that you have? Or will you repent, and look upon yourself as a miserable sinner that has let God down many a time, and want to make things right by giving more of your time, money, and effort to God? Will you spend more time studying the Bible with your family than you do watching the worldly television with them. Will you pray that God will use them for his glory, and call them to the Mission field? And if he does, will you let them go? There was nothing the early church wouldn't do for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were willing to suffer, bleed, and die for our blessed Lord and his glorious gospel. Now dear reader, the question is put to you: "What will you do for the sake of Christ Jesus and his wonderful gospel?"