From here, to there. To...
The question is, where are you in this flow? Where am I?
Belief to faith to knowing.
One of the complaints (really, an offhanded and exasperated declaration of unbelief) leveled at Christians is that "if God is real, why doesn't he just reveal Himself?" I can understand what they're saying. Though, apparently the Bible and the testimony of millions of believers the world over isn't enough to give credence to the idea that God is real and that you must seek him out with a humble and believing heart. Here's the deal: God is holy, we are not. Holiness is something that we as humans don't understand. The brightness and white-hot power of the sun don't hold a candle to God's holiness. It is superlative. And if God were to show up in His holiness, all would be obliterated as all is under the curse of sin. Yes, sin has been effectively dealt with by Jesus but it's now our responsibility to credit these things to our account by believing. Because if God were to reveal Himself as He is, then we would have no need for faith. And the attitude of hate and belligerence and unbelief would have no basis and no means of expression. We would know. And I hate to sound fanatical here. Consider the mere concept of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) God is listening. If you have doubts and everyone does, then... Can you take them to God? This might be hard, but God will effectively move you through the spirit-thin membrane of unbelief that separates and prevents you from knowing that He's real and He's there and that He loves you. You will know that He loves you. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18) It starts with humility. Belief. Those two things dovetail into faith and faith turns into knowing.
"Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." said the child's father to Jesus. (Mark 9:24, emphasis mine) It works in reverse, too. When we have doubts and don't take them to God in prayer and begin to think that we know it all—even better than God—then those doubts will turn into unbelief. The active, exact opposite of faith. Unbelief comes in many shades. From pure, unadulterated anti-theism (the big brother of atheism) to smaller forms that will let the belief of and in God stay, but refuse to believe that He can and will do what He says in His word... The Holy Spirit is faithful to show us the dark corners inside us in which lurk traces of unbelief. All we have to do is ask and He'll shed His light into our spirit. "Be not afraid, only believe." (Mark 5:36)
Segues of selfishness: envy, coveting, hedonism, narcissism, solipsism.
Something that everyone deals with—believer and non—is selfishness. Selfishness is akin to childish affection directed inward. True love and compassion are always seeking and searching for those who need it. It's the way it is. Believe it or not.
I would have to say that one of the things that leads to pure selfishness is envy. Always dissatisfied with one's lot, as if it was someone else's (God's) fault that you have what you have and are what you are. Really, it's self-pity. Ouch! Guilty. "Be content with such things as you have" (Hebrews 13:5). The rest of the verse says "for He hath said I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." I believe that when we don't see (and know) that we possess God in all His fullness (being revealed day by day), then we will become selfish. And envy is like the clarion call of selfishness. I want that. I need that. Never satisfied. Never content. Envy then segues into coveting, like the next stage of its evolution. Coveting actively pursues the satisfaction of envy's bottomless maw. It's like theft without the act. What lust is to adultery, coveting is to theft. Still focused on oneself, the downward spiral then gives way to unabashed hedonism, which demands to feel good at every turn and then hedonism segues into narcissism (please note that narcissism and narcotic have the same root). Narcissism then grows up into active solipsism. I think that solipsism is an unspoken, almost subconscious condition that is more widespread than we know. It essentially means that one thinks—believes they are the only one in existence. No concern for others. Really, no realization that others even exist. If you were to level that accusation at people, of course they'd deny it. But, "Ye shall know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:16) The antidote for this negative cascade is gratitude. Gratitude that we're even alive to experience things at all (thanks for the reminder!). Gratitude is the opposite of envy because, you're content with God. And, "how shall He (God) not with Him (Jesus) also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32) It's summed up even more succinctly by James (1:14-15) "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Well put.