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The Human Impulse to Selfishness

Updated: Mar 26, 2022

Written by: John Sernaque


CS - Counsels on Stewardship (1940) Chapter 4—The Conflicting Principles of Christ and Satan

An Unequal Contest

Selfishness is the strongest and most general of human impulses, the struggle of the soul between sympathy and covetousness is an unequal contest; for while selfishness is the strongest passion, love and benevolence are too often the weakest, and as a rule the evil gains the victory. Therefore in our labors and gifts for God’s cause, it is unsafe to be controlled by feeling or impulse. {CS 25.1}

To give or to labor when our sympathies are moved, and to withhold our gifts or service when the emotions are not stirred, is an unwise and dangerous course. If we are controlled by impulse or mere human sympathy, then a few instances where our efforts for others are repaid with ingratitude, or where our gifts are abused or squandered, will be sufficient to freeze up the springs of beneficence. Christians should act from fixed principle, following the Saviour’s example of self-denial and self-sacrifice.—The Review and Herald, December 7, 1886. {CS 25.2}

We develop habits, good or bad, from repetition and conditioning. If we make the conscious decision, and make the effort to follow through on our decision to be self-less, as opposed to being selfish, we will not perceive our giving as a burden, but rather a joy. God loves a cheerful giver. We will not think about how we feel about giving, nor waver if we should or shouldn’t. Giving will become part of our nature and we would be like Jesus. We will no longer behave or act by impulse but act from a fixed principle. God does not need our money. However, there is much work to be done that requires resources. We are at war with the enemy and it is no time to have any sympathy for the devil.

Dear God,

We thank You for this opportunity to come before You in thanksgiving and praise. We pray that we are moved by the Holy Spirit and not by our feelings or impulses. We pray that we can execute Your plan of benevolence and that we can exemplify Your character of selflessness in our life. We pray for Your continued blessings and that we may continue to help others so that they may be blessed. Keep us faithful in our giving. Help us not to waver in our giving and that it may bring us joy as You love a cheerful giver. Help us and give us strength to uphold Your principles and not be deceived by Satan. We are Your children and we want to do our part. We ask for the forgiveness of our sins. We thank You for hearing and answering our prayers. In the name of Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.

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