Sunday, May 19 2024 - 1:53 PM

Sharing Scripture — April 13, 2024

The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?


For use: April 7 – 13, 2024
Texts: Luke 19:41-44; Matthew 23:37-38; Hebrews 11:35-38; Revelation 2:10; Acts 2:44-47; John 13:35

Sociopaths in popular culture are “loathsome villains with few exceptions,” explains Dr. Patric Gagne in her new memoir, “Sociopath.” They are portrayed by characters such as Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs” and Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho.”

When she herself was diagnosed with sociopathic personality disorder, Patric found few therapies to treat her symptoms, so she decided to pursue a PhD in psychology to help develop those resources.

She knew she couldn’t feel empathetic emotions toward others as her friends and family did, but didn’t understand why, or how to change that. Even grasping a sense of right and wrong—and why certain things are wrong—challenged her. She gave in to her urges to be bad in college by occasionally stealing drunken frat brothers’ cars, and even breaking into homes. The knowledge, however, that these actions are considered wrong led her to try and even out the bad action with some good deed. She would return the stolen cars with a full tank of gas. “One time someone left the stove on,” in a house she broke into, “so I turned it off. It’s my way of trying to balance the karma.”

As a psychiatrist, she’s become known as “the sociopath therapist,” taking on clients with sociopathic tendencies. She believes that sociopaths can learn new behaviors, and even develop loving, empathetic emotions.

“I am a twenty-first-century sociopath,” she says.

She is now happily married with two kids, a dog and a cat, and has lasting relationships with her friends and family because she sought treatment and answers.

Moving from selfishness to love is a goal for every member of the human race. We are all born selfish—as infants all we can do is take; we have no physical or emotional ability to give. Our task as we grow and mature is to move from total selfish dependence toward the ability to truly love and bless others.

The opposing forces in the great controversy contest represent the two extreme positions: unconditional love, and total self-absorption. Lucifer tried to take what he wanted by force, and lost. God exhibited pure, self-sacrificing love, and won.

Because of that love, even those of us who display the worst characteristics of selfishness can become transformed into heaven’s ideal of pure devotion to God and others.


For Reflection


Connecting: Have you ever known somebody (without naming names) that you would classify as a sociopath? What challenges did you find in dealing with that person? Were you able to develop strategies that enabled you to function in that relationship?

Sharing: John 10:10 identifies the opposing purposes of Christ and Satan: Satan comes to steal our very lives from us, but Christ comes to give us super-abundant lives. What do you see happening in the lives of those who resist Satan and choose Christ?

  1. They become happier, more fulfilled individuals
  2. They begin to experience better circumstances as God blesses their health, relationships, and finances
  3. Nothing much changes on the surface, but internally they are better able to deal with life’s challenging situations
  4. Satan attacks them that much harder, trying to discourage new believers before they get a chance to become grounded in their faith
  5. Some combination of the above
  6. Other:

Applying: Some say successful relationships are 50/50—”I’ll give you 50% and keep the other half for me.” Some say they are 100/100—“If we give each other 100% we’ll both be happy.” Which ratio do you prefer, and why?

Valuing: Everyone is selfish to some degree. Are you able to catch yourself being selfish at times? If so, what do you do to stem, or correct your behavior? Can you look back over your life and see yourself becoming less selfish, and more loving, over time?

~ Chuck Burkeen

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