THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 11-4-01

LESSON TITLE: SOCIALLY ACCEPTED SINS OF TODAY: "SELFISHNESS"

WELCOME

What a privilege we have this morning to join together in the study of God's Living Word. We are happy you have chosen to be with us today and are excited about this opportunity we have together to glorify our creator. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
(Short Prayer)

This morning we again want to begin by mentioning one of our sister congregations which help financially to make this program possible. Today, I would like to introduce you to the North National Church of Christ in Springfield, Missouri. This fine congregation has been a partner in this effort for a long time. We are happy to have these brethren involved in this work of our Lord. We also appreciate their like-desire to do God's will, as we together reach out to this area with the Gospel of Christ.

If you have the opportunity, please take advantage of meeting with these brethren - even this morning. Today, they will assemble together for a Bible study at 9:00 a.m. This is followed by a worship assembly at 10:00. Another opportunity to worship is also offered at 6:00 on Sunday evenings. During the week this family also comes together at 7:00 on Wednesday evenings for a Bible Study. I hope you will be able to visit with this congregation very soon.

If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me or their minister brother Bill McFarland. Their phone number is 417-866-0915. We again thank this congregation for their continued support!

It's now time to start our praise through song. Won't you join in the first hymn of the morning, as we together sing, "Sweeter Than All!"
(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

In the Bible, we often read about the family of God as it is compared to a physical body! In Romans 12: 4-5, we read, "For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another." Paul said, as Christians, we are all a part of the one body of Christ Jesus our Lord and we all have different functions! Isn't that how our body works? Many parts, all working together, yet serving different functions, so that the body may be able to fulfill its needed work.

Furthermore, as we talk about fulfilling our part in the body of Christ we need to consider a few questions. What part of the body are you? Have you found you talents and are you using then for the Lord? Probably many of us are not! When is the last time you considered what your special talents are? When is the last time you put those talents to work for the Lord's body?

The Bible is full of examples that teach us that we must all do our own part for Jesus. We all remember the story of the "Talents," in Matthew 25. The master gave each of His servants talents. To one he gave 5, to another he gave 2, and to another he gave 1. Each servant later returned to the master. The 5 and 2 talent men had doubled their talents and the master was well pleased. The one talent man came back only with that which the master had given him.

Now let's see what the master said to the one talent man in verse 26, "You wicked and lazy servant..." The master was upset that this servant had done nothing with what he had been given. Also, notice the outcome of this unprofitable servant. In verse 28 we find that his talent was take from him and give to another. Then on down in verse 30 we read, "And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Are we using our talents for the glory of God or are we sitting around like the lazy servant? Why not find your talents and be a profitable servant in the Kingdom of the Lord. Choose today to be a healthy part of the body of Christ! Today we will again be considering a lesson from our series which is entitled, "Socially Accepted Sins Of Today!" Our specific topic this morning will focus on "Selfishness!" So stay with us and in a few minutes I will return with this study from God's Word. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "To Christ Be True."
(SONG # 2)

LESSON

Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we now will have an opportunity to look at our topic of selfishness. Really what we're going to do is look at the idea of selfishness or maybe being grateful , in gratitude, and trying again to see how important it is that we as Christians are a thankful people. You know it won't be too long from now, just several weeks, when we'll have Thanksgiving again, a time when our minds will all be focusing on what we have and how thankful we should be especially in the place that we live in our country to have so many things. But really, throughout most of the year, if we look around at our friends and neighbors and we look around at what we find maybe on television or maybe those who are committing crimes, we see that really rather than people being thankful, they are really very selfish. Selfish in really feeling almost that other's things are theirs or really ungrateful because even when people do good to them or help them or might give them something, they really don't show the proper love and attitude themselves and thanksgiving for what has been done for them.

There are many reasons why we must show ourselves to be a very thankful people and not to be caught up in a selfish attitude, an attitude again that causes us to be brought down a level that is really more worldly again than godly. We might look together in Colossians chapter 2. There in verse 7 we find here this concept as it says, "Rooted and built up in Him and established in your faith as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." Here again, thinking of all that we have. Not again being selfish, not just worrying about what else can I get or why does somebody have more than I do or being ungrateful when somebody again does something good towards me or helps me. But again, thinking and realizing all the great and many blessings that God has given us. You see, Christ did this. We have the best and greatest example that we can have in the Bible because we are taught by Jesus that thankfulness was important. It would have been very easy for Him in a selfish way to have really enjoyed the attention that He got and really not been courteous or thankful. Maybe he could have been very ungrateful for the things that were done for Him and on His behalf, the many who showed Him great kindness. But rather, He was an individual who was very thankful and we find that example once again many times.

Not only Christ but many throughout scripture throughout the Old and the New Testament often showed a great thankfulness for what they had been given or what had been done for them by others. You can imagine that under the Old Law and during the Old Testament times when there were judges and kings, the many great things that might have been done on the behalf of those in power, the many kindhearted things that might have been done even during periods when Joseph was in rule and given second in command of Egypt. Think about how grateful and how he must have been to know that even he as a slave was elevated to such a position. We might also think of individuals in the New Testament like Paul and men who often thanked churches for their great love and care and concern. We know this was in a physical way and also a spiritual way and in a monetary way. They had given him so many things and continued to support him. So yes, we need to realize what we have in this life.

The reason I bring out this concept of realizing what we have and thankfulness is because it is really the opposite of what our topic is this morning. When we understand really what we have, we understand what God has done and what He is doing for us, and we understand all that we have been blessed with, then again how on earth can we be ungrateful? How on earth can we worry or be selfish that someone might have something that we don't or how can we allow ourselves to again act in a way that is ugly toward someone because again maybe they are blessed in a way that we feel we are not blessed? Yes, we must count our blessings. Not our bruises. Not those problems and trials all the time and if you are like me, we are guilty of that often. We are individuals who like to focus on the negative and we're brought up like that in our society. Brought up in a society when you turn on the news, you hear all the bad things happening. You don't hear a lot about the good things that are taking place and those uplifting things. The greater percentage is about all the wrongs and all the evils that are many times taking place and that brings us down. So immediately we react in the same way. We're individuals who immediately start looking at all the troubles and trials or the problems that I have in life rather than focusing on blessings. Now when we start looking at the negative, again, we have more avenues that are open for us and more ways that are open to selfishness, because it is then that we begin to see our problems and what we have compared to others and that others have it better than us or others are able to deal better with problems than we are. Then we see selfishness creeping in, the concept again of ingratitude even though we do have so many things from God. We no longer thank Him for that. We no longer thank others when they do things good for us. So again, we must find that yes, as Christians, we must be those who are not selfish but those again who look to all the great things that we have. We must be grateful that we as Christians are also followers in Him. In other words, those who have been given a duty to fulfill in Christ Jesus. Again, as those who have come out of darkness into the eternal light of Jesus Christ His dear son, who have been made partakers of the kingdom, the great blessings. We have so much more on this earth so that we don't have to be selfish about our lives, so that we don't have to be individuals who are not only selfish but are ungrateful. We know that not only are we blessed here on this earth but we are also going to be blessed in that great life which is to come, that eternal life. As Christians we know that yes, we must show gratefulness, not that selfishness, not that ingratitude.

One writer put it this way. As he was robbed one time, he said that he "had never robbed before and was never robbed before." So he was trying to look at it positively and say that "Well, he had been robbed but that was the first time so it wasn't that bad." Another point that he made about it says, "Because although that he took his purse, he did not take his life." So he said, "Well, he took my billfold or my wallet and got the money, but he didn't take my life, so I should be thankful for that." Then he went on to say, "He even took my possessions but he didn't take that much. I still have something left. I still have a lot left. He took just a few things." Then he said finally, "It is not I who robbed. It's not God who robbed. It is someone else who robs, someone who needs God." So again, think about that. Think about how that we can take almost any situation, any problem in life and make it good, make it better by again not looking at it in a selfish way.

I know most recently with all the tragedies that we have seen throughout the United States, those many who have died there at the World Trade Towers, those who have suffered also from the airplanes and other areas who have been the victims of highjackings, we find again this very same concept again. It would be very easy for some in a selfish way to blame others only to begin to blame God only and to focus only on negative and bad and poor things. But I really find quite the opposite when I turn on the television and I hear those who are being interviewed about how there is really joy in their hearts and in their minds. Even though they have lost loved ones, they know that they have done great and mighty things and that they stood for good things and they were good people and they have lived good lives and there are usually smiles on their faces because they were good parents and grandparents and good cousins and good loved ones and over and over again good friends of those individuals, good husbands and wives, on and on and on we could go on the many good things that they were and how these people's hearts seem to have joy because again they don't look at it in the wrong way, a negative way or an ungrateful way, but they realize that really there is a greater plan, a better plan, a bigger plan as we all return to prayer and understand that yes, as we pray to God and we thank Him for all that He has given us and we show our gratefulness and we prove to God that we are not selfish, then truly again we'll find that God is pleased and He will continue to bless us and give us the reward.

Another thing we might mention in relationship to being selfish or being one who is not able to show gratitude even though the Bible commands clearly that we need to be a thankful people is this idea that we might find on contentment. Paul probably dealt with this greater than anyone and we find this in several areas and really in several letters that he wrote in the book of Timothy as well as also in the book of Philippians discussions about contentment, about how that when we have food and raiment, therefore we should be content with these things. When God has blessed us with a shelter over our heads and clothing to put on our bodies and food to eat and the things that we have. These are the things that are necessities in life, the things that we have to have. Now most of us in America have so much more but again the problem we get into is comparing ourselves to everyone else, comparing ourselves to the Jones', trying to keep up with the Jones'. Then we begin to get selfish instead of like Paul said, "looking at it from the standpoint of being content, satisfied." That's what he said in Hebrews 13:5 also, "to be content with such things that we have." In other words, to accept them and when we accept them, that again will give us a greater amount of time to focus on again what God has done, to focus on what we do have, on thanking God for what He has given us instead of acting as if maybe we are ungrateful or acting as those who might be selfish because others might have more than us.

Another idea that we might present and consider as we look at this concept of selfishness is knowing also that in the great scheme that there are great spiritual things given to us, not just physical things but again the spiritual things. We mentioned earlier about being a Christian. Well there are great spiritual blessings also that the Bible talks about such as in Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 3 that "God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings and heavenly places, all good and great gifts are from God." Again, these ideas are ours to hold fast to, to know that truly we can count on and be able to depend on because God will surely do the things that He has said. He will surely give us the strength that we need and to give us the things that we have need of and why? Because as we read in the book of Matthew 6, "He is going to provide for us just as all his other creations." He is going to give us the things that we have need of. He's going to allow us to be happy with what we have. Why? Because He is going to prepare for us physically and He is going to prepare and care for us spiritually.

Also, we must realize that we as individuals have great physical blessings as far as our bodies and our health. In other words, I want to go another step. Not just the physical things that we can get in life and not just the spiritual but also, what about our health? What about what God has blessed us with there? Don't we have so much to be thankful about there? Sometimes we like to complain, "Oh, I've got an old backache or I've got a headache or you know, my foot is hurting again." A lot of us like to complain a lot about all the ailments and the problems that we've got. Well, I would like to encourage you to go to the hospital. Go up to Cox or St. Johns and look at some of the individuals in there who are really suffering, those who are struggling for life itself, who are trying to breathe and struggle for almost their last breaths to stay alive. Then tell about how bad you've got it and how bad those ailments that you have are. Again, focusing on what we have helps us to forget the need that we have to be selfish. It helps us to realize what truly is important in life and when we can do that, I think we are going to find that our blessings really are innumerable. They are difficult to even count because again of all that God has done and continually does for us.

Again, if we'll look at the concepts of needing to express our gratitude, shying away from selfishness, we find that we must do it also in many ways. One might be that we might do it in a verbal way. We don't even need to just think that we are thankful or we are happy about what somebody has done for us or what God has done. We need to say it. You know, it's kind of the old saying where somebody might say, "Well, I've said 'thank you' before. I don't need to say it again. Or, I told somebody something so I'll tell them again when I change my mind." That's not what we're talking about here this morning. We're talking about those who need to come out and say, "Thank you, God." Who need to come out and say, "Thank you husband, or wife or children. Thank you for what you have done or how you have helped me." Again, not being selfish. "Well, look how bad I've got it. Look how awful it is. Thank you for making it easier while these things have been falling apart it seems in my life. Thank you for all the efforts that you give, the time and all the strength that you put out of your own life in order to make mine better." See, it's all a way of looking at it. It's all a way of how we're going to focus on it. Are we going to allow ourselves to be caught up in understanding things in a good way or are we going to be caught up in really focusing on them again in a bad way?

Our lips, speaking with our lips is so important not just in making the great confession as we know as Christians, but also in showing people our loving, godly thanks for what they do for us. David said this one time in Psalms 116 and verse 12. He said, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?" Again, he realized what God had done for him. He could not be selfish because he understood all that God had done for him. You see, if you and I will do the same thing, then we will find the same thing that he did, a confidence, a contentment with life, an ability to want to thank others for what we have including God because we know that truly He has done so much for us.

Furthermore, we might also realize that we should not take the commonplace things of life for granted. Again, the idea such as the ability to breathe, the ability that we have everyday to get up in the mornings to go to work, the ability to be able to accomplish the things that we have, the ability that we have to get up and to go to church, to worship God, the ability that we have to hug our children, to give our wives a kiss. Again, all of these things should be precious to us helping us again to realize how blessed we have been. That we are able to turn a light switch on and a light actually comes on or we're able to actually flush the commode instead of going out to an outhouse like probably the majority of the world has to do. Again, let's remember again all that we have been blessed with by being not only Christians but by being citizens of the great country that we are and in doing that, that we again shy away from the selfish desires that sometimes are in us or again these concepts of really being ungrateful because we feel someone else deserves or owes us something or should pay us something because they have it better than we do.

Finally, I would like to say realize that we are individuals who must receive the gift that God has given us, that we must be those who are not just receivers though, but our lesson this morning encourages us to be givers of that gift. In other words, when we hear what God has done for us and we are encouraged and we are able to move away from a selfish life in order to focus on God, then we ourselves become givers as Christ was a giver to also make sure that He, as well as we also carry out His will to make sure that others also know about what He will do in their lives. You see, we can strive to allow others to see what God has done for us. We can set an example. We can live a life. We can talk in a way that again exemplifies Christ in everything that we do, and when we do that people will see the love of God in us. Let me ask you, would you rather follow God if you saw one who was always selfish and ungrateful and complaining in life, or would you have a greater desire to serve God if you saw one who had received the gift, who understood the blessings, who had counted their many blessings before God and strived to find out exactly what God had for them in their lives? What would you do for Christ? Will you do His work? Will you make sure that you're not selfish as the world is?
(SONG # 3 - "When Upon Life's Billows!")

CLOSING COMMENTS

Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

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May we all strive to think less of self and our own needs, so that we may have more time to acknowledge and help with the needs of others.

(Program closing)