Some people are so selfish that they will do things that boggle the mind. You may find it hard to believe but, no, I have not made any of this up. (I’ll provide actual names to anyone who asks.)

In Baltimore there was a man named Andrew who loved to go out to eat. He also hated paying the bill. He concocted a plan he thought was foolproof. (As it turns out, he was the fool.) According to published reports in The Baltimore Sun, Andrew would go into a restaurant, sit at the bar and order up dinner and drinks. Expensive dinners and lots of drinks. Before he was given the check, he’d usually go to the men’s room to pull this stunt, but sometimes he’d just perform his act in the bar. The act varied – sometimes he’d just “pass out” and drop to the floor, and sometimes throw in seizure-like symptoms and perhaps a few moaning noises to make a scene. When they couldn’t rouse him, the restaurant staff would call 911, the emergency services number in the US. He’d continue his act for the paramedics, and finally our dine-and-dash-scammer would be transported to the emergency room. That’s where he’d typically be arrested.

Yes, I said “typically” because he was arrested and charged for this stunt more than 90 times!) It got so bad that the Baltimore Police actually issued an alert for restaurants that included his mug shot. In fact , police were having a hard time keeping him behind bars because the bills never amounted to a felony, only a misdemeanor. Finally, one judge gave Andrew the gift of a lifetime – 5 years of free meals three times a day. They’d be served in the Maryland State Prison.

Our verse today is both an observation and a challenge …

I love the Apostle Paul and his writings. He’s so direct and flat-out honest. But he’s also often very challenging. “Killed our selfish feelings.” I have to stop and ask myself, “Have I really??”

Okay, everyone; fess up. Haven’t you ever looked over the pizza being served for dinner and somehow managed to grab one of the larger slices? Or taken the last dessert when you have already eaten enough to eat?

Those examples of selfish behavior may bring a twinge of guilt, but Paul isn’t just talking about pizza. He drives to the heart of the matter as he speaks about selfish acts of the flesh. Paul says our absolute selfishness is obvious when we engage in sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. Wow! That’s quite a list.

You can’t accuse Paul of mincing words. And he’s also spot on, every one of those items is utterly selfish. Then Paul pounds the final nail in the proverbial coffin and says, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The “Bishop Robert Version” of that verse would be, “Hey, dummy, I’m warning you AGAIN because you didn’t get it the first time. Your eternity is on the line here!!”

Paul says believers in Jesus should consistently display SELFLESS attributes like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And he says the only way to do that is to kill our selfish feelings and desires. Well, actually, he’s quite a bit more graphic. The Greek word Paul uses is the word for “crucify.”

CRUCIFY !!! That’s a word that describes a very specific and detailed violent series of events; it’s a word packed with the most vivid of images and strongest of emotions, much like the word rape. Paul is saying that we need to take our selfish passions and desires, drag them out, beat them senseless, whip every last ounce of strength out of them and then nail them to an instrument of death and let them hang there naked until they expire. And if they don’t seem to be dying quick enough, break their legs to hasten the process. Then, when they’re unquestionably dead, rip their bodies down and toss them aside like trash. Crucify isn’t a word you should be able to just glibly skim over.

And if you think that this behavior is extreme, refer back to the my translation of his reasoning. Your eternity is on the line.


We’ve become a society that is incessantly focused upon ourselves. I remember hearing Noel Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary fame) discuss this a while ago. He said it used to be that the big magazine of the day was TIME magazine. Everybody read it regularly. Then came LIFE magazine. Now time and life are very close concepts, to be sure; but life is a subset of time. Then after a while we had PEOPLE magazine. People, of course, are a specific subset of life; not everything that is alive is a person. Then came US magazine. US relates to people, of course; but not them, only US. Then we finally got to SELF. Never mind about the others, let’s just consider number one. He jokingly said something about the next big magazine would be called ME, and only have pictures of yourself and you with close friends and others. He was joking, of course he never thought that would actually happen.

Then along came the internet, and everybody and their third-cousin now gets to create their own page! How did we ever become so self-centered that we thought it a worthwhile effort to post photos of what we bought for dinner? Or conceited enough to feel miffed if we didn’t immediately get several “likes” and “thumbs-ups” for our wise choice? And not only that, but we assign some absurd level of value to the number of people willing to FOLLOW someone to see pictures of their dinners!!!!

The most important person I “follow” is Jesus, and I’m not talking about His Twitter account. When you make the declaration that you follow Him, it comes with a cost. Salvation is free, following Jesus will cost you everything; beginning with your selfishness. We who follow Christ are instructed to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, we are supposed to value others above yourselves in true humility. No disciple of Jesus should seek their own good, but the good of others.


Where you have envy and selfish ambition, it’s a breeding ground of disorder and every evil practice. Now we’re getting back to Paul’s dirty dozen I mentioned earlier.

Alexi and Tucker were college sweethearts. When Tucker proposed marriage, Alexi was thrilled and she said yes. Plans were going along marvelously well, and the date was approaching. Then Alexi got the call that would change her life. The man on the phone said he was Tucker’s father, and told her that Tucker had just thrown himself in front of an oncoming car and taken his life. After she had pulled herself together a bit, Alexi called Tucker’s mom to offer her condolences. And that’s when she found out that Tucker wasn’t dead. He had impersonated his father and lied to her about his death because he had changed his mind about marrying her and didn’t want to have to explain. Now THAT’S selfishness!

We are supposed to die to ourselves in a very different way. Jesus, who knew very well that He was on the road that would lead Him to the cross, said “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” We are supposed to kill our selfish feelings and desires — crucify them, remember?? Like the Apostle Paul, we ought to be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Andrew was a fool who thought he could enjoy dining pleasures and never pay the price. Tucker was a heartless fool in innumerable ways. They were both centered on what they wanted, and didn’t care who they had to hurt to get it.

Some people will tell you it is foolish to follow Christ. They will tell you that you’ll miss out on so many pleasures and possessions if you choose His life of selflessness. The widely-accepted standards of this age offer you so much. Comfort, even luxury. Wealth, fame, and fortune. Even “followers” on your very own social media channel.

But it has been said that he is no fool that gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Yes, the world will call you a fool for following Jesus. But don’t deceive yourselves. If any of you thinks you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become truly wise.


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