Recently, I’ve been picking on the words “selfish” and “selfless”, and arguing that the values that we associate with these words are not Biblical values. – And I still have some more things to say about this.
But I must admit, I haven’t been entirely fair: because I’ve been straying from the official dictionary definitions of the words a bit. So I’d like to remedy that.
selfish |ˈselfi sh |
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure : I joined them for selfish reasons.
concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish : an act of selfless devotion.
Taken by their strict definitions, I actually think these are great words! And very Biblical to boot. It is indeed a vice to consistently lack consideration for others and be chiefly concerned with one’s own personal profit. And it is indeed a virtue to be generally more concerned with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own wishes.
So why am I on such a rant about these words being un-Biblical? Because words mean more than what the dictionary says they mean. From the way I see these words used – and from the results that I see in peoples’ lives – I think these words have subtly taught that self-contempt is a good thing. So I plan to show that this is the case, and suggest a better way of thinking. And because I think these words have been tainted by un-Biblical values, I think it’s best to avoid them.
So… even if you don’t like the way I’m nitpicking on the words themselves, please stay with me and join the conversation in the comments section. I hope you’ll find something beneficial in what I say.
And does it matter if it’s in the Bible anyway?
I’m a Bible-believing man, and a huge goal of my life is to let Scripture be my authority. But I’m only trying to be clever when I pick on the words “selfless” and “selfish” for not being in the Bible. After all, lots of important words that I believe in don’t show up directly in Scripture. (Ever heard of the “Trinity“?) The point isn’t whether a specific word is used in Scripture or not; the Bible wasn’t written in English anyway. The point is to search the Scriptures for genuine understanding about its values.
And having said that… I will continue with my rant! (Next post.)