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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Self-Ish-Ness is a Three-Letter Word

Have you ever noticed that if you take the first letter of each syllable of the English word Self-Ish-Ness, it spells sin? Is this a mere coincidence of language? Of course, but it sure makes a good sermon outline. In another place, I wrote…

I Believe in the Selfishness of Sin. Every sin is basically some form of selfishness and every instance of selfishness is sin—the very opposite of righteousness. Selfishness, by its very nature, alienates people from God and from each other, hindering and ultimately destroying the Divine‑human oneness that is the essence of abundant living.

Self-Ish-Ness puts self first and that makes God at least second and possibly much lower on our appreciation list. Self-Ish-Ness destroys person-to-person relationships that should be the greatest treasures of earth and degenerates them instead into all sorts of love perversions. A parent-child relationship that should be the joy of life is destroyed by molestation. A marriage meant to last a lifetime and bring joy to home, church, community and the world, as well as to the Kingdom of God, is instead destroyed by the Self-Ish-Ness of one or both. Examples are endless if we wanted to continue, but there is no need—you get the point.

In I Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, helped us to see that Self-Ish-Ness and love are opposites. He tells us what love is: “Love is patient, love is kind.” and what love is not: “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (I Cor. 13:4-5(NIV))

Years ago, a sociology professor gave our class this one sentence description of love: “Love is an unselfish concern for another.” Not romantic, but practical and it shows that for love to flourish we have to get the Self-Ish-Ness out.

Let’s turn Paul’s description of love around to show what Self-Ish-Ness really is.

Self-Ish-Ness (or self-seeking behavior) produces envy, boastfulness, selfish pride, rudeness, is easily angered and never forgets a wrong.

On the other hand, the opposite of selfishness is unselfish behavior, attitude and outlook. So here we see both the cause and correction for the sin that so easily besets us. The cause of most, if not all our earthly problems is that we care too much for self and too little for others.

The solution to our earthly problems is that we learn to love both ourselves and others, thus producing an atmosphere where love can flourish, where joy is the rule and where happiness the natural condition of life.

I'm Rick Blumenberg . . . and that's My View from Tanner Creek.

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