Otherishness

In our culture, we hear of selfishness and unselfishness. Selfishness specifically means that a person only looks after his/her own self-interests and that mostly at the expense of others. Unselfishness would mean that the person does not look at his/her own self interests even at the expense of others. Unselfishness could be nothing more than not wanting anything.

Otherishness is the opposite of selfishness in every way. Otherishness is looking out for the best interest of others even at personal expense. Otherishness is agape love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It never fails and is the greatest giving.

Why is this word important? We are created to be otherish. Sin blocks being otherish. We can look like we are otherish natured but have a hidden agenda that is self-serving. We may call a sick friend to wish him well only to get the guilt of a previous hurt in our relationship off our chest. That is selfish, not otherish. It may make the friend feel better and it is still selfish. Being otherish may be very transparent to most people and especially those who are selfish.

To be otherish, the heart has to be changed on the inside. The original heart was made for otherishness but was corrupted by sin and became selfish. We do not try to become selfish overtly. We become selfish covertly by the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We have plenty of help with temptations that call us to selfishness.

To be equipped for being otherish, we have to have the ability to think of others and about self and choose to be for others. This nature comes from being made in God’s image. The image in us, at conception, should become in His likeness. Sin works on that nature with determination and deliberation until we become selfish. That sin corruption does not take long while we do not have a fully developed conscience.

When first born, all our needs must be satisfied by someone else or we die. We are not equipped to be otherish or selfish. Children are very selfish and really cannot help it because they are dependent upon others. They do not know how to provide to others from the heart nor are they able. As children grow and find out how the world around them works, they find ways to get what they want. Children do not want to give to others just because they have a need. Parents are to teach their children that they must help others and that when everyone is working to help others, everyone’s needs are going to be met. Indulging children in every whim only increases their perspective of selfishness. The problem is deeply rooted.

Adolescents are a very selfish group, but not fully selfish. They are in such turmoil about who to become and, at the same time, they have developed mental faculties that could be changed to being otherish. Adolescents cannot do everything for themselves, so are still partially dependent on parents and others in authority. While they need others of experience to guide them, they have all the physical faculties for doing life on their own. Wealthy, untrained, fully-developed adolescents can be selfish forces of great strength. They need to hear early about being otherish. This is a prime time to instill the idea of otherishness in them. They will not become otherish just because they are taught to be otherish, yet, they must be taught. They will likely do things for other people because it gains them what they want for self. That is selfish. They have been in that mode since birth. Adolescence is the first time for the attitude to change from selfish to otherish.

Otherishness has to come from autonomy. Until people can do otherishly because they are choosing to do for others at their own expense, autonomy cannot work otherishness.

Adults who are not otherish may have missed two things in life. First, they may have missed the lessons that taught them the difference between selfishness and otherishness. Second, they do not recognize they have the power to choose to be and do for others from autonomy. Hopefully, this message will be an awakening to many adults that they have a choice if they will choose at their own expense to become otherish.

The following is what I believe will work in adults and adolescents to become otherish at the core.

» Believe that it is the right way to live.

» Find the God-given conscience within to lead in knowing when you are selfish and then be otherish.

» Be accountable to God for what you cannot get to work in you to be otherish.

» Take an inventory of yourself to see what you can give to others.

» Take up the work of studying other people to find out what they need.

» Apply yourself to giving, regardless of the failures, until you are otherish.

» Never take the credit for being otherish. (That would be selfish.)

I personally do not believe a people can be otherish on their own. The above choices are difficult and must come from having a different nature than sin. That otherish nature was in Adam and Woman before they sinned. That otherish nature has always been in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Accepting Him as the agent of change will be the beginning of the transformation to being otherish. Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit can find every part of our nature that is selfish and transform it. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18) We must behold Him until all is changed and then we will want to be with Him all the time. He will always do what is best for others. He is otherish on every occasion. His otherishness will be built in as we cooperate with His plan.

The joys of otherishness are most awesome. No guilt and shame. No second guessing confusion. We will not want to be someone we are not. All of these effects come from being selfish. From being otherish, we will know how to help; we will help; we will delight in helping; and we will glorify God. Glorifying God must be the greatest contentment we will ever know. Do you have the guts to give it a try? Agape to you in giving freely.