3 Ways To Fight Selfishness

3 Ways To Fight Selfishness

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One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen, who wrote six novels in the early nineteenth century. She was known for her witty observations about the English manners and society of her time. One famous quote of hers is:

Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

As much as I love Jane, I must beg to differ! (Plus, I suspect that she was only kidding).

I had the opportunity to speak to a group and I talked about selfishness as a contributor to anger and bitterness. But wouldn’t you know, I found myself plagued more than ever with selfish thoughts and feelings in the days immediately surrounding that talk?

Or maybe I was just more aware of it and I’m always this selfish. Is there hope for a cure?

God’s Word tells us:

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

James 3:14-15 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

I think it’s pretty clear from these passages: God hates selfishness and pride. Selfish ambition is not pleasing to God. So what can we do?

  1. First, recognize that we are in a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about the weapons at our disposal in Christ. The truth of God’s Word and the reality of our salvation are symbolized by the breastplate of righteousness. We are declared righteous in God’s sight and there is no longer condemnation for me (Romans 8:1). We must use our faith as a shield to fight against the lies and attacks of the devil. We must immerse ourselves in God’s Word and pray, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). We must remind ourselves how desperately we need Him!
  2. Take charge of our thoughts. We think about what we’re thinking about. Keeping with the war analogy, we take our errant thoughts captive; we make them prisoners of war as described in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and make them bow down to Christ.  We are to destroy any lofty thing that raises itself up, sets itself up against God. My selfish desires “what I want, not what Jesus wants” definitely fall into this category. We follow God’s instruction manual for our thoughts as prescribed in Philippians 4:8 and Philippians 2:3: we consider others above ourselves with humility. Galatians 5:14 says the entire law is summed up in the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  3. Practice gratitude. We are told to be thankful in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18). I have found that it is impossible to feel sorry for myself and grateful at the same time. You just can’t do it! Self-pity is just another manifestation of selfishness and is the exact opposite of gratitude. In Philippians 3:1 Paul says, Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Giving thanks and rejoicing are closely related and we’re told that doing so will guard us. Against self-focus, self-pity, and selfishness.

Jane Austen’s father and brother were ministers, so I hope that she really did know the truth of God’s Word and was just being facetious in her quote about selfishness.

Praise God, there is a cure!

Linda Graf About Linda Graf

Linda Graf is the author of  Bitter Truth: My Story of Bitterness, Grace and Repentance. She wrote it after the Lord freed her from a lifestyle of anger and bitterness. She is a musician, a mentor and mother. Being an author was never on her radar, but during her journey from bitterness to joy in Christ, she was compelled to write about it. Check out her website where she blogs regularly.


  1. In our flesh we will fight self until we leave our bodies, but thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift that Christ does dwell in us and through Him we overcome the flesh. Thanks for the insightful post!

  2. Great advice, Linda! And I suspect Jane was probably kidding, too. (But no one can say it like her! LOL)

  3. Linda, thanks for these helpful reminders! The battle with self isn’t easy! I’ve been thinking lately about the ways my insecurities are actually manifestations of my pride, all stemming from self-focused roots! Thanks for pointing to the truth that frees us!

  4. Linda,
    I like how you outlined what we can do about selfishness.
    I take Jane Austen’s words as complete truth. We ARE selfish, it IS a constant battle, and God DOES forgive us, just as He expects us to forgive others.

  5. Great insight, Stacey!

  6. How could we not love her? Hopefully we’ll meet in heaven.

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