Somebody who is egocentric or self-absorbed is not usually a person you'd enjoy spending time with. Self-centeredness causes a person to be completely obsessed with themselves, their status, and their desires—to the point that they place their own wants over the needs of others. The one they love the most is themselves—to the detriment of other relationships.
The Bible is clear that being self-centered or only thinking of oneself is a sin. When we think only of ourselves, we tend to forget the needs of others. Being self-seeking (Romans 2:8) and having only selfish ambition (James 3:16) makes it very difficult to please God (Romans 8:8). As followers of Christ, we should not be self-centered, self-seeking, or focused solely on selfish ambition.
Let's say we don't think the world revolves around us. Is it ever OK to put our own needs first? After all, Jesus gave us the example of taking time to Himself, and that IS a healthy practice (Mark 1:35; Mark 6:31). So how can we tell the difference between self-centeredness and simple self-care? Let's look at what the Bible says about these two ends of the spectrum.
There's a difference between taking care of ourselves so we can be in a healthy state to serve God and others (self-care) and putting ourselves first no matter what the cost to our faith, relationships, or the well-being others (self-centeredness). We DO need to care for our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), and our minds (Philippians 4:7-8). And all this is for the purpose of keeping us healthy and growing in holiness for God's service.
Jesus acknowledged our perfectly normal, natural inclination to love ourselves when He said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). But the point He's making is that we ought to care about the needs of others in the same way we inherently care about our own needs. The apostle Paul reiterates this principle by saying, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4). He's not saying to forget about your needs; rather, he's saying that we should also care about others' needs.
We can take care of ourselves without becoming self-obsessed. We can care for others without becoming a doormat for abuse.
In contrast with the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), the fruit of self-centeredness produces death (Romans 7:5). Succumbing an unhealthy love of ego is not honoring or glorifying to God. Ironically, by placing our own wants and demands over others' needs, we will gain only destruction and ruin. (See Luke 17:33.)
When we're self-centered, obsessed about fulfilling our every desire, we make idols of ourselves. Self-centeredness is rebellion against God because it shows that we would rather live for ourselves than for Him. Self-centeredness elevates ourselves above God. We cannot truly live for God if we're really only worshiping ourselves.
Jesus is clear that we are to deny our selfish inclinations and desires if we're to follow Him (Matthew 16:24-26). This principle is paramount to the Christian faith and is the opposite of self-centeredness. Like Jesus, we should not be focused only on ourselves but on others (Matthew 20:28; 1 Corinthians 10:24). Like Jesus, we should be sacrificially devoted to one another and God's Kingdom (Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:10). Like Jesus, we should consider the needs of others just as important as ours. For example, if we're concerned about needing food and shelter, we ought to be concerned about others needing food and shelter.
When we truly change our focus to loving outwardly, we center ourselves on God. When we're God-centered, we're following Christ's example. God-centeredness kicks self-centeredness to the curb and says to our sinful nature, “You're no longer in charge here!”
All Christians continue to sin even after being saved (1 John 1:8). Everyone is self-centered at times because we're human. However, we DO have the upper hand, because we have the Holy Spirit working within us. The Spirit gives us guidance and strength to overcome egotism and self-centeredness (1 John 4:13).
Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” If we can actively walk with the Lord, we can work toward becoming less prone to sinful self-centeredness. Ask God to help you turn away from sinful desires that rage against our faith (1 Peter 2:11). With Him, anything is possible (Matthew 19:26).
Self-centered egotism is contrary to the principles of the Bible. We should always seek to serve others over our selfish desires (Philippians 2:3-4). That said, Jesus acknowledged our perfectly normal, natural inclination to love ourselves when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). But the point is that we ought to care about the needs of others in the SAME WAY we inherently care about our own. Paul reiterates this in Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." He's not saying to forget your needs; rather, he's saying that we should also care about others' needs. We can take care of ourselves without becoming self-obsessed. We can care for others without becoming a doormat for abuse.
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.