The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Self-pity Will Destroy You

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 8, 2014

This is not an easy word. I’d like to leave off the polemics and write smooth things sometimes, but there is too much at stake. If you are a self-centered, stuck-in-the-past professing Christian, this writing will feel more like a merciless death-blow to you than the warm hug of an understanding friend. I encourage you to read it anyway, since the freeing call of Jesus will always be, “Come and die with Me.” We might as well face it head-on.

I spent years in the prison of self-pity going round and round, wanting to be free, but unwilling to do the one thing that would secure my freedom: forget myself.

Nobody understood me, nobody felt the pain I felt, nobody had ever carried burdens like mine, nobody knew what it was like to be me. And after spending countless hours trying to make people feel as miserable as I felt, thinking that would somehow make me feel better, most refused to accept that burden. They would avoid me or humor me or (worst of all) tell me how great I was. This reinforced my love of self and my anger at everyone for not treating me and my pain as if we were supremely important.

Thankfulness? That was for people who had not suffered like I had. Scripture foretells the darkening of the heart that comes with unthankfulness (Rom. 1:21). If you want to develop futility in your thoughts, and embark on a never-ending downward spiral, just give in to unthankfulness.

Psychological humanism–which hasn’t truly helped anyone in the world–is infiltrating the Church. It offers self-centered people a million reasons why their misery isn’t their fault (their problems are generally blamed on someone in their past or on demons), tacking on a few token Scriptures to make it sound biblical. However the Savior–who knows the entire depth of depravity and sorrow this world is currently bearing–offers no warm and fuzzy justifications for self-pity.

He is never going to confirm your suspicion that you have suffered like no other. Instead, He will say to you, “Come and bear my yoke, and you will find rest.” Or “Come and die, and you will live.”

He is never going to allow you to be the center of your universe. He will demand to take your place at the center. If you refuse to give up that cherished position, He will refuse to free you from yourself, and you will remain a prisoner forever until your destructions have utterly ruined you. And they will. You won’t even leave behind a good name for yourself. You will be to everyone who knows you just another selfish person who never helped anyone else because you refused to see past your own private world, and this truth will make them heartsick.

Jesus will never tell you to affirm yourself. He will tell you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him.

But Jesus, these people are already burdened. Their parents failed them, the schools failed them, their friends stabbed them in the back, their spouses weren’t there for them, they didn’t receive enough affection, their government was ungodly, their churches were full of hypocrites, and their kids don’t care. They don’t need another burden! Surely they don’t need a cross?!

And His answer is faithful and true because He is the faithful and true Witness–

Deny your SELF, take up your cross and follow Me.

Dear friend, I must tell you–you are miserable because you are selfish. You are angry at all these injustices because you consider yourself the most important being in the universe. I know that people hurt you. This world is filled with sinful people getting hurt and hurting others, blaming, refusing to take responsibility for their part, and thinking all would be well if only someone else changed.

But Jesus tells each soul that reaches for His help that death to self is the only answer. It doesn’t matter how righteous you think you behaved when everyone else was doing you wrong (we usually have skewed vision when judging such things), embracing the cross is the correct way out of your self-destruction. And it is self-destruction. If you are destroyed, you won’t be able to blame everyone else, because God offers the same way out to everyone without respect of persons.

If anyone deserves to walk in self-pity, it is God. He deserves the worship of every creature, yet they run from Him and worship the most worthless things in His stead. They sell themselves into slavery to harsh, unloving masters, and then they blame Him for their problems. We are not talking the betrayal of a handful of people against us–who have also been sinful, but a sweeping betrayal of the whole world against a perfect God.

His response to this day-after-day back-stabbing?

While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

He thought through and put into action a plan to facilitate our freedom from bondage and reinstatement as His dear children. Then He sent messenger after messenger to show us He still wanted us, and to point out the way back. He shed His own blood to redeem us. He sent His Word to heal us. Have you noticed that He did not have a well-deserved pity-party? We would have all perished for sure if He was a selfish God.

And yet, although we have this precious example, and we can learn to love unselfishly because we were first loved unselfishly, most remain unchanged. The cross of Christ means to most professing Christians a nice idea, a ministry, a name for themselves, a way to cure their spouse or a means to increase their finances or earthly stability. Some go so far as to develop a scheme of doctrine they hold to, but that’s as far as they are willing to go. They don’t accept their guilt in view of a suffering God, and sorrow to repentance. They don’t want Him or His cross if it means they might have to suffer with Him. For such, a silver trinket worn around their neck is as much cross as they are willing to bear.

Why? Why is it some people stay stuck? They say they understand the gospel. They say they love Jesus. They say they want deliverance. But they are never delivered. They never emerge from the cocoon able to fly, but are perpetually struggling in the same old webbing year after year. When they see other believers overcoming, they become bitter and conclude that those believers must have had it easier.

I am convinced it is a matter of DYING. They refuse to die with Jesus. They refuse to turn their attention away from them SELVES and what they think they deserve. They refuse to obey the Living Word and take up their crosses (everyone has one) and follow Him. They refuse to forgive others. They refuse to stop being unthankful. Their thoughts become futile, and their foolish hearts are darkened, and they keep saying they want deliverance even as they reject it.

There is only one Way…that is Jesus…and He says you have to humble yourself, die to your self, and carry about with you an instrument of death for the rest of your earthly life. If you can really see the debt you owe God, forgiving others should naturally follow. If it hasn’t, plead with God for eye salve, beloved, lest your blindness destroy you.

Self-pity is sin. Don’t whitewash the truth. This is life or death. It desires to have you, but you must master it. And the only way to do so is through DEATH with Christ to all that you desire. You wound up in that pit of despair through your own lusts that you allowed to lead you (James 1:13-15) . The only way out is humble repentance and acknowledging YOUR wrongdoing, followed by crucifying YOUR flesh so that YOU can live from now on as a servant of God (even if others don’t). The sinful, self-pitying you is not a beautiful wounded thing, worthy to be held up as a trophy of longsuffering for all to admire. The sinful you is wretched and is causing untold harm to everyone around you. It must be crucified and put away from you as an abhorrent thing that you refuse to make provision for or justify. When it tries to resurrect, you promptly cast down imaginations and bring every thought into obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), choosing to be thankful in all circumstances.

It is only after death of self that new life can spring forth. This is the glorious power of the resurrection. This is the practical power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ when taken into good soil and mixed with faith. A self-centered person can voluntarily get on the cross and refuse to live that way any more, descend in total poverty and humility of spirit into a dark grave, and rise again Christ-and-others centered. Self-pity can turn to joy that abounds regardless of an imperfect past, present, or future. This unfathomable miracle is 100% possible through Christ! If your experience with Christ has not been like this, maybe you have not met Him on the cross. Maybe you have been hanging around the cross, but haven’t truly denied yourself and placed its agonizing cross-beams across your own shoulders. Maybe the self-emptying life Jesus led has just been a nice story, but you haven’t determined to follow Him or die trying.

The way up is down. But this way is not easy. It’s easier to point out what others have done than it is to acknowledge what you have been doing. It’s easier to blame than to examine oneself. It’s easier to care about yourself than it is to care about others. It’s easier to find people who will justify your sin than it is to keep doing what is right when no one seems to notice. The cross is hard and it can feel like a nightmare that just isn’t fair sometimes. But fairness would have landed all of us in hell without any chance of redemption. We needed mercy (not fairness), and God in His mercy has provided…THE CROSS.


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