Vol.XX No.IX Pg.3
November 1983

The Home Wrecker

Dan S. Shipley

Though seldom identified, the sin of selfishness is the culprit responsible for most every problem, heartache, misery, and division occurring in the home. One of the marks of the "grievous times" of which Paul prophesied was that men would be lovers of self (2 Tim. 3:1,2). And, grievous it is when husbands and wives will subordinate family needs to personal preferences; when they think in terms of self: What I want, what I like, my rights, my interests, and my happiness. Such thinking is practically the guarantee of hard times at home. But too few see selfishness as being a personal problem.

As H.W. Beecher has said, "Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without in himself." It is our inclination to see ourselves as the victims of selfishness rather than the guilty. As the unhappy wife I recently read about was heard to say, "My husband doesn't show any interest in what I do. All he cares about is whatever it is that he does at that place — wherever it is — that he works!" (Bits & Pieces, Aug. 83) Such an attitude may describe us more than we care to admit. As God's people we are not ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Cor. 2:11), the deceitfulness of sin, nor its blinding power. Therefore, however remote and unlikely it may seem, we must see the possibility of selfishness in our own lives! Like the prodigal son, we must come to self to overcome self (Lk. 15:17). As Paul says, "Examine yourselves..." (2 Cor. 13: 5), test your motives with absolute honesty for none can begin to deal with a problem he won't admit. Self-denial is one of the first lessons to be learned by the follower of Christ (Matt. 16:24). Nothing is more fundamental to obedience and righteousness. Without it, no man can truly love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). As Christ's love sacrificed self for the church, so must be the husband's for his wife. It is an unselfish and giving love. Without it, wives cannot be in subjection to their husbands, as unto the Lord (v.22). The very spirit that prompts submission to the Lord should prompt it between husband and wife. Being what the Lord wants me to be means being what I need to be to my mate. Selfishness, then, is a sin against man and God — and, oftentimes, against children.

Accordingly, bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) involves denying self. For instance, rearing children for heaven takes time. Selfishness robs many children of that precious time — under an alias, to be sure. Too busy, too tired, to talk and answer questions, to read the Bible, to pray with them, to take them to worship. But, worse perhaps, are those children who suffer because selfish parents divide the home rather than deny self. It is almost unthinkable that some would trade a good family for a selfish indulgence; for a bottle, for a lover, for "good times." Yet, it continues to happen, even among some claiming to be Christians. In these, and even in more subtle and respectable ways, selfishness is the great home wrecker: May God helps us to want it purged from our lives.