In C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters we see with startling clarity the cleverness of the enemy in deceiving human beings.
Selfishness has a thousand forms, most of which we are slow to recognize for what they are. I was thinking about the fear of loss and what a stranglehold it can have on me. As I listed some of the things I dreaded to lose, it occurred to me that this fear is a deadly form of selfishness. Selfishness does terrible things to us, but it does not stop there. It does terrible things to others. "Saving our own skin" usually results in skinning somebody else. Think, for example, of the fear of losing: reputation, opportunity for advancement, credit, recognition, position, beauty, youth, health, money, the love of friends or children, compliments, popularity, security, privacy, rights, people you love, job, home, dreams, power.
As I considered each of these separately, I began to think what sort of sin each kind of loss tempts me to commit. Then I thought about what kind of faith is required to enable me to commit those fears to God. Has He, in fact, made provision for these things? The list is not a list of sins--make no mistake about that. It is a list of blessings, of gifts from God. But to grasp them selfishly and greedily, to hang onto them fiercely and allow myself to be enslaved by the fear of losing them, is to deny Christ. Do not fear, He says to us. I am with you.Elisabeth Elliot