How the Early Church in Acts Overcame Selfishness


All the believers were one in heart and in mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all, that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales.” Acts 4:32-34

Does anyone else feel convicted when they read about the Acts church? To have grown from 120 to 3,000 in one day, casting out evil spirits, healing the sick, and taking care of each other in complete devotion?! These are high standards; these people were committed even under persecution.

I wonder why we don’t see this kind of faith and miracles today?

There are several things that contribute to our current state, but I believe one of them is selfishness.

Selfishness is not only evil – it’s debilitating. You won’t get too far being selfish – not at work, in relationships, or otherwise. The Bible says that “For God so loved the world He gave…” (John 3:16). God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27) so giving is in our DNA. When you are selfish, you’re taking on another nature apart from God’s.

In Acts Chapter 5, a husband and wife were killed because they lied and withheld a portion of their money from the church, acting like it was the full amount (Acts 5:1-10). The Acts church was so holy that the husband and wife’s deceit could not survive its weight of glory.

The Root of Selfishness

selfishnessIn my experience, selfishness is most commonly rooted in insecurity and a need for love. True love from God is the remedy. When people are broken and empty, they will do anything in their power to fix themselves and fill the void. When you’re trying to cope and self-medicate, it’s impossible to fully love and relate to others because you can’t see past your own “needs”. All of your encounters will be self-serving, everything you do or don’t do is fueled by desperation. People who are selfish are not always evil people, they just haven’t received the full love of God in their hearts.

When you can only take care of something or someone who can reciprocate the kindness, that’s selfish. I didn’t know until after I had my daughter that I was selfish. Having to put her needs above my own was never a question, but subconsciously, there was a lingering resentment. When God revealed this to me, I was so hurt and I felt like a bad parent. Here I am with a gift from God and my ignorance and the need to heal was preventing me from being able to fully enjoy motherhood.

The Lord let me know I wasn’t a bad parent, but I needed a revelation of His love to become whole and overcome selfishness.

Motive Speaks to Selfishness

There are people who only give to receive – and that’s still selfish. Some people only do things for thanks and a “pat on the back”. This is the insecurity aspect.

There was a time when I was so giving, I would bend over backward for anyone simply because I fed off their compliments and praise. It was exhausting, but I needed it to feel good about myself. I didn’t even know this about myself until God revealed it! I thought I was just a ‘good person’. That is why knowing God and building your relationship with Him is vital for deliverance. You can’t have genuine relationships with people when you have a manipulative personality or are a people pleaser.

God’s Love Cures Selfishness

love letterWhen we get a glimpse of God’s perfect love for us, we take on a whole new perspective. His love makes giving a joy and insecurity non-existent. His love opens your eyes to the fact that no matter where you are in life, you have all you’ll ever need. It makes the temporary things of this life seem so minute, and all of your strivings are no longer for you – but for His glory.

This makes dealing with people a lot easier. You will begin to see people through God’s eyes and when they hurt you, you’re able to keep loving them.

In fact, it’s a lot more difficult to be hurt when you’re in the love of God. You realize that attacks on you reveal pain and misery in the offender; your heart is grieved for them. You begin to intercede at a higher level because you want them to be free and whole. It gives you godly compassion that makes you love the person even more.

You may be confronted by an angry teammate, and the Spirit will give you discernment and show you what that person is dealing with. It hurts you and you take it into your prayer closet and travail for their situation. Not to say you should hang around for someone to mistreat you or take your kindness for granted – please use wisdom. I’m saying, “hurt people hurt people.” Let’s bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

So, What’s The Play Call?

Do a heart check and be honest with yourself. We are called to serve, and selfishness hinders servitude. We are supposed to present ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) to God, who calls us to serve others.

God created good works for us to do before we were born (Ephesians 2:10). As great as this life is, it’s not about us! What a challenging reality! We should commit ourselves to find out what God’s will is for us and what role we play in His plan.

It’s okay if you struggle! Don’t beat yourself up. We press toward the mark and in our consistent pressing God will change us and equip us to do His will. Remember, His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness (1 Corinthians 12:9).

Be blessed.

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