Selfishness: The Unchristmas Attitude
by: Roger Campbell
Dr. Gary Chapman, author of the best-selling book, “The Five Love Languages,” was once asked to name the number one challenge facing married couples today. He answered, “The greatest challenge facing marriage today is the same as it’s been for hundreds of years: learning to live a life of love rather than selfishness.”
Explaining his conclusion, Chapman said, “Most marital problems are rooted in selfishness. I don’t get what I want, so I lash out in anger. My spouse fights back or withdraws and the marriage suffers.
“Two selfish people will never create a successful marriage. But two people who choose to love each other and look out for each other’s well-being will learn how to build a good marriage.”
A woman once told me I had changed her marriage of fifteen years with one statement. “What did I say that caused this change?” I asked.
She replied that I had said, “You may be asking if you are getting all you deserve out of your marriage when that is not the question. You should be asking if your husband or wife is getting all he or she deserves out of your marriage.” That simple and unplanned line in my sermon moved her and her husband to trade selfishness for love and changed the focus of their relationship from getting to giving.
Marriage isn’t the only area of life diminished by selfishness. Upon entering a bookstore, I asked the gracious salesperson if she was having a good day. Suddenly, her gaze moved downward and tears were near as she shared with me how many customers had said mean things to her that very day.
What causes irritability in most of us?
We’re more interested in our own agendas than in the needs of those around us.
Sadly, this “me-first” attitude can even be found in churches, showing itself in caustic and critical comments about ministers and other members who don’t cater to the carnal desires of those who are more interested in their own welfare than the needs of others.
Christmas ought to be the most selfless season of the year, the ideal time to give and forgive. Songs and sermons now center on a baby born in Bethlehem’s stable manger who later spent his life reaching out to hurting people, often being criticized for taking time to show his love to the outcasts of society. He was characterized by compassion, frequently weeping over the sorrows and needs of others. Who are we, then, to be demanding and difficult to be around, feeling persecuted when things don’t go our way?
Looking back, Chapman recalled that he and his wife struggled during the early years of their marriage, saying they were both selfish, but neither of them realized it. He says they spent a great deal of their time hurt, angry and disappointed. Then, in answer to their prayers, God enabled them to exchange their selfishness for giving love.
The same miracle attitude change awaits all who desire and ask for it.
And in your asking and receiving you will give your family, your church and others the gift of love, the greatest Christmas gift of all.