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What the Bible says about Self Pity
(From Forerunner Commentary)

When things go wrong, instead of responding appropriately, many indulge in loneliness or despair until it becomes a melancholy mindset, a distorted way of thinking, seeing, and feeling. Many times, such people feed their sadness by becoming dependant on their despondency to provide them with a sick sort of comfort. Just as a famine can lead a person to make a more intense search for food, one wallowing in self-pity must strive to find a cure for this morose state of mind (II Corinthians 7:11).

When times get hard, those who have sunk into apathy curl up in self-pity. Conversely, the faithful patiently and quietly wait, trusting God to make things right in His perfect time. Those who pity themselves because of the circumstances of their lives fail to see God at work in them, while the faithful understand that God always has their best and eternal interests at heart.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

Related Topics: Self Pity


 

It is a natural human tendency to respond to life's difficulties with self-pity. Humans exercise a "woe is me" reaction, feeling their suffering is undeserved. When Moses pleads with God to excuse him from leadership, God rebukes his thinly veiled self-pity as faithlessness (Exodus 4:10-13). Similarly, Jonah feels so sorry for himself that he lacks pity and mercy for the inhabitants of Nineveh. God tells Jonah those whom he should pity: the 120,000 little children who shared none of Nineveh's guilt, in whom the practice of willful sin had not developed (Jonah 1:1-3, 10; 4:1-4, 8-11).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

Related Topics: Self Pity


 

Genesis 4:1-15

In the well-known story of Cain and Abel, the first man born on the earth also becomes the first murderer. A few points in this account are significant:

  • Cain killed Abel after a quarrel over a sacrifice to God. Cain brought a sacrifice, but God would not accept it because it did not meet His standards. While Abel's offering showed his complete submission to God, Cain's hints at grudging worship of God - and that done in his own way.
  • Becoming angry and sullen over his rejection, he quarreled with and killed his brother. Then, he lied to God's face! He had no fear of God or the consequences of sin.
  • Cain's retort to God's inquiry as to Abel's whereabouts is also significant: "Am I my brother's keeper?" Cain's attitude of indifference toward his fellow man greatly influenced later generations.
  • Coupled with his entirely selfish attitude, Cain tried to take advantage even of God's curse upon him. Using a "woe is me" ploy, he "convinced" God to guard his life from anyone avenging Abel's murder.

The way of Cain - idolatry, murder, deceit, selfishness, hypocrisy - saturated Pre-Flood society to the point that God, seeing the wickedness of man, regretted He had even created humanity (Genesis 6:5-7).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'As It Was In the Days of Noah'

Deuteronomy 7:16

We may deduce from God's instruction to the Israelites that they "should have no pity on" the wicked nations around them and that we should not pity ourselves for incurring the penalties of sins we chose to commit. Everyone is personally responsible for his own actions. In pitying ourselves, we say, "Poor thing, suffering for your own sins! It's all right if you sinned. You shouldn't have to suffer for it." Self-pity actually involves lying to oneself. It is a result of sin, and it is incurable without repentance (Jeremiah 30:15). Repentance from sin is the difference between self-pity and sorrow. Self-pity involves no repentance, while godly sorrow produces repentance (II Corinthians 7:9-10).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

1 Kings 19:4-15

While pitying himself, Elijah asks for death, saying, "It is enough! Now LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" His situation reveals several problems that can fatigue and erode our attitudes: He presumes the outcome, focuses on the problem and himself, and becomes physically exhausted. God provides the solutions to alleviate self-pity: Pray for God's help, rest, find a new focus and new expectations, repent of sins, and take obedient action. When Elijah crawls into his shell, God commands him to get up and get moving. He wants Elijah to choose godly action based on obedience rather than inaction based on his emotions. Genuine repentance and a clear view of our true condition, not a distorted one, fights self-pity.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

Job 19:21-22

In Job 19:21-22 and Proverbs 19:17, the Hebrew word chanan is translated "pity" and means "to incline toward" or "be gracious." Pity is usually tender feeling for another person who is in misery or distress because of some unforeseen, uncontrollable, or accidental crisis. It is similar to compassion but differs with respect to whether the person in distress is sinning. The feeling of pity is motivated primarily by the weakness, misery, or degraded condition of the person being pitied. "We pity a man of weak understanding who exposes his weakness; we compassionate the man who is reduced to a state of beggary and want" (George Crabbe, Dictionary of English Synonyms, 1816) through little or no fault of his own. In contrast, self-pity is self-indulgently dwelling on one's own sorrows or trials.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

Related Topics: Compassion | Misery | Pity | Self Pity | Weakness


 

Matthew 16:24-25

Like the Messiah, we must deny ourselves.

Put Satan into this picture. What is he going to do to us? Through disinformation and affecting our attitudes, he will lead us toward self-satisfaction, not self-denial, because self-satisfaction is the essence of sin. When we sin, we bring upon ourselves the death penalty.

To teach the right lesson, Jesus immediately taught—to counteract what Satan was subtly teaching through Peter—that the way to the Kingdom of God is through self-denial, not self-satisfaction. Satan will try to persuade us not to deny ourselves but to fulfill ourselves at the expense of others.

Another thing this can teach us is that great temptations can come through well-meaning friends. Peter meant well. It must have shocked him right out of his sandals when Jesus turned and said, "Get behind Me, Satan!" right in Peter's face. Jesus was probably not angry, just urgent, so that Peter would grasp what had happened.

Surely, God would not want us to face this kind of a trial, would He? Yes, it could happen if the temptation comes through well-meaning people. We are particularly vulnerable when we can be led to believe that we are not being treated as we deserve.

Satan used this major ploy against Adam and Eve: "Oh, has God said so? He's withholding from you." Such was his implication. "Why, if you do things the way you want, you can have much more. You can be god." We always want more; it is part of human nature.

Unfortunately, mankind keeps making things worse by making the same general mistakes over and over again in each generation. It will not end until each individual decides he will not do it regardless of the cost to himself. This is denying oneself. Some things in life are beyond our control, and we must leave them to God to solve.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 4)

Matthew 18:33

In the New Testament, the Greek word eleeo occurs only once (Matthew 18:33, "pity"), and it means "to be kind," "tender." In contrast, self-pity is the opposite—not tenderness to oneself but an abusiveness that causes great stress and harm. It shows faithlessness by breaking the first commandment in placing oneself higher in importance than the Creator God. This obsession with self interferes with God's development of righteous character in us.

In essence, self-pity is excessive love of oneself. Thus, a simple cure for self-pity is caring for someone else's welfare more than self—in a word, selflessness. Outgoing concern, love toward others is outlined by the Ten Commandments, for they show love toward God and love toward neighbor. The saints who overcome Satan and the world are known by the trait that "they did not love their lives to the death." They are willing to lay down their lives for their friends (John 15:13).

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 10): Self-Pity

2 Corinthians 2:6-8

When put together with II Corinthians 2:11, Paul is saying that a godly sorrow unto repentance can actually give Satan the opportunity to turn a person's feelings about his sin into an abnormal self-pity, which will destroy that despairing person's relationship with the church and with God. He can turn such a person into a bitter cynic. The Devil is that clever.

It does not end there. In addition, he can turn the righteous indignation of those who are offended by another's sin into bitter self-righteousness if they do not forgive and forget and move on. He gets people going and coming unless they are aware that he can turn something good into a ploy to destroy a person's relationship with God and the church.

These are not the only weapons that Satan has in his arsenal. Remember, we are involved in a war, and a general will employ every kind of ploy, device, tool, or contrivance to rout the enemy. He will use decoys, infiltration, subversion, propaganda, rumors, misleading leaks of information, and sometimes a frontal attack with diversions on the flanks.

Satan is no different. However, God makes sure to warn us of his subtlety. The Devil creates distractions and illusions to deflect us from reaching our goal. He has the ability to make things that are in God's purpose unimportant (for instance, material things or vanity) seem important, while eternal, spiritual things he makes seem unimportant, unnecessary, and unrealistic.

Knowledge of what he is like would be unnecessary if he could not affect us after baptism. Despite his earlier defeat at the hand of God as well as his defeat by our David, Jesus Christ, he is still seeking to destroy God. Even when he fails at that, he still wants to destroy God's purpose of having us inherit His Kingdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 2)


 




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