Dealing with Selfish People

It's not easy to deal with selfish people, but it's something we all have to do. This devotion offers some biblical insights.

There have always been selfish people in the world, but our modern culture promotes and even celebrates selfishness at times. No wonder n
arcissism is on the rise. (See 8 Narcissist Problems.)

Christians are faced with an increasing number of difficult relationships at work, in neighborhoods, in organizations, and even in Christian circles. (See Weeds.)

Because selfish people lack empathy, many of them mistreat others and then feel sorry for themselves. Cain is an Old Testament example. (See Cain: The Ultimate Pouter.)

We should steer clear of close friendships with such people because “bad companions ruin good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 GNT). 

But we can't avoid selfish people altogether. 

When they're in our churches, we may need to humbly address their inappropriate behavior, speaking the truth in love (2 Timothy 2:23-26; Ephesians 4:15). When they are in our workplace or neighborhood, we need to walk in the "opposite spirit."

The world tells us to return evil for evil and "punish" people for hurting us. God tells us to be different from the world, returning good for evil and treating unkind people with kindness (Romans 12:17-21).

It's tempting to treat selfish people the same way they've treated us, and that's exactly what Satan would like us to do: respond in ways that deny our faith.

But our faith shines brightest when things are difficult, and we have this wonderful promise to sustain us:

"[We] can do everything through Christ who gives [us] strength." Philippians 4:13

It's not easy to deal with selfish people, but it's something we all have to do. This devotion offers some biblical insights.

Bible Love Notes


  1. I have a question about this subject,there have been a unfortunate time in my marriage recently and I'm dealing with so much hatred in my heart for this person right now and as of right now my feeling is that I don't think I could ever love her for intruding in my marriage amd almost ruining my family. How and what do I do? I continue to pray about it. I just can't see loving someone who hurt me so bad although I also think but the pain I was feeling was nothing compared to the pain Jesus felt and he forgave all of them for all they did to him. Thank you for these love notes I read these every morning when ready other scripture. Prayers for my family please and I will pray for every one as well. Thank u so much.

    1. I'm so sorry about this situation that hurt your marriage, and as I write this, I pray that God will comfort you and heal your marriage.

      When God tells us to love our enemies, He doesn't expect us to approve of their behavior, trust them, or maintain a close relationship with them. He expects us to treat them humanely and kindly.

      Let me give you an example: I had a friend in the past who was quite immature. If I didn't do things exactly as she thought I should do them, she would pout, criticize me, cut off contact, and/or treat me coldly.

      I tried working through problems with her, but it became clear that she had a critical spirit when it came to me, and she was unable to see the log in her own eye (Matthew 7:1-5). When she treated me coldly, I treated her kindly. When she acted bitter and haughty, I treated her normally and forgave her. It would have been unhealthy for me to try to maintain the friendship, but I never treated her as she had treated me. That's moving in the "opposite spirit."

      Loving our enemy doesn't mean we have to maintain a friendship with them.

      If you are dealing with a friend who had an affair with your spouse, loving that friend does not mean accepting them back into your circle of friends, nor does it mean that you trust them. It means you forgive them and treat them humanely. Treating someone humanely means you don't attempt to hurt them. If they fall down, you help them up. If they are without food or clothing, you help them. If you have hateful thoughts about them, you ask the Lord to help you overcome those thoughts.

      God has very high expectations for our marriage relationship, and a spouse who commits adultery needs to restore trust. Part of restoring that trust will be avoiding the person with whom he/she had the affair. There is nothing unloving about having expectations of a spouse who has been unfaithful. In such cases, he/she must "prove their repentance" in order to restore trust (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20). And there is nothing wrong with no longer having fellowship with a friend who interfered with your marriage. This is part of protecting your marriage.

      But you must forgive that person....and that will be a process of continually taking your bitterness to the Lord and asking for His grace and power to overcome it. In cases of adultery, it is usually a process, not something that happens immediately, but in God's grace it will happen.

      I love your heart in thinking about the suffering of our Lord, and that gives me confidence that you are going to find peace and healing in this situation.

  2. our neighbor shoots guns in our yard,put up no trespassing sign up. Cause we go to church.He still shoots at the end of his property.He is violent 26 yr. old man,living by his self.He watches our house at night ,when we turn off our lights,he shoots his loud gun. He always tell the police,he is shooting raccoons. He is a liar. He is trying to get us to move. We where here first.He hates Christians.

    1. I'm so sorry. That sounds like a challenging situation. I pray that God will give you wisdom in dealing with it.

  3. Hi. I'm dealing with my elderly mother (with dementia) who daily curses and mocks our housekeeper. She just despises people who do menial jobs.
    As much as I would like to punish and discipline my mother at times, there would be no greater punishment than eternity in hell, if she does not repent.
    If my disciplining her is not towards her soul in Christ, then I'm not being loving in Christ.
    Pray that God will turn your eyes towards the end state of her soul. There is nothing more final than this. Shalom

    1. Antony,
      My father-in-law had dementia before he died, and it really does cause a person to do things they would not normally do. It can be very hard for the caretaker, but it helps to understand that they don't mean to be difficult. Their brains no longer function properly.

      May God give you courage and wisdom for honoring your mother at this difficult time in her life and in yours.