E. E. Jennings conducted a study on 162 American business executives and then offered this statement to describe their overall attitude toward success in business: "Ambitious business executives do not regard as success-contributing those practices ordinarily regarded as good human relations. They believed that self-interest was the basis of all human nature, that it is safer to be suspicious of men and assume their nature was more bad than good." In sum, they believed that in order to compete they needed to be selfish, because their competitors were also basically selfish. Philosophically and practically speaking selfishness is a fundamental human problem because selfishness begets selfishness. As R. C. H. Lenski said (MacArthur, 1984): "Cure selfishness, and you have just replanted the Garden of Eden."
No matter the external regulations or incentives, social harmony will not occur without men and women having a love, a caring, for each other. Justice alone is not enough. It is a good start. It may be the best we can do naturally, but it will disintegrate if it is treated only as a principle with no core motivation to care about the other person.
God has always wanted His people to live by the type of faith that results in love toward Him and each other. Both the Old and New Testaments command us to "love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves" (Joshua 22:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:29-31). Jesus in Mark 12:29-31: "The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these."
But look around! Selfishness seems to too often rule the day. And the behaviors that manifest themselves out of selfishness create dysfunctional relationships. In order to get them out of your life you have to not want to indulge them. You have to be committed to doing the will of God. I do not necessarily mean His specific will for a situation, although you should seek His guidance in it, but I am talking about the will He has already revealed, His general will that should govern our thinking and attitudes. Read verses like Philippians 4:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22. These verses indicate God’s general will for all. When we commit ourselves to living according to His general will we will find that our relationships improve and many of the problems that plague our lives will not exist. No! bad situations that already exist because of our own bad actions will not necessarily disappear, but if we approach them with the attitude and heart that Philippians 4:8 and 2 Thessalonians 5:12-22 indicate even these old problems will become less stressful. But also realize that new problems will not be created.
So much of what ails us is self-inflicted, self-created but our own bad actions. We create many of the problems that plague our lives because of who we hang around with and the sinful things we do. Yes, I realize that things do happen to us that we do not deserve because that is the kind of world we live in—the sin of others often affects us unfairly. We live in a cause-and-effect world. And some of those ‘causes’ are the bad and irresponsible actions of others. But if we commit ourselves to a Philippians 4:8 and 2 Thessalonians 5:12-22 attitude, those ‘unfairnesses’ will not grow bad attitudes in us. It is not a virtue to "when in Rome do as the Romans do" if what they do is wrong! It is no excuse before God to say, "This is a dog-eat-dog world where a survival-of-the-fittest mentality rules, especially in business and politics, therefore I need to behave that way to survive and prosper." James says it well. "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can’t possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what is that you don’t ask God for it. And even when you do ask, you don’t get it because your whole motive is wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure! You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world (and its way of doing things) makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, ‘God sets himself against the proud but he shows favor to the humble.’"
Hitler, those involved in pornography, exploiters of child labor, those involved in the human slave trade, and others have used "the survival of the fittest" mentality to justify bad actions. It is an end justifies the means philosophy. It is interesting to note that that philosophy is used to justify predatory behaviors. And yes! those who are aggressively committed to power and status will often overrun those who are peaceful. Look at the Vikings, Mongols, Nazis, and Greeks. These peoples were driven to war and conquering by leaders who wanted to increase what they already had. These leaders sought glory, power, and material wealth. They went out of their way to overrun peoples who were dwelling in relative peace. But interestingly, they were less capable of managing the peace and building a well functioning society free from brutality to keep the subjects in line. Often, those who were living in relative harmony, and who were actually more ‘fit’ in promoting a healthy social system, were overrun by aggressively murderous thieves or ideological zealots. This world is one long history of violent and predatory dysfunction!
The work of God is not promoted by ‘medieval crusades’ or ‘conversions by sword point’. I do not just mean this literally as the reference indicates. But the same principle speaks against a Christian indulging in immoral business practices in order to "grow the business" or "further the cause." As James tells us, we are not to be a friend of this world. And how do we become "friends" with this world? We are friends of this world when we do things the way it does them. Christians are not to operate this way! In order to do this we must first reject selfishness as our operating principle!