The Cure (For Self-Pity)
The world is right now searching feverishly for a cure for Covid-19, and we pray someone soon is given the wisdom to know what that is. It will be a great day when people will not die from this virus.
But I think I may have found a cure for something else that can wreak havoc in our personal lives.
The sin of self-pity can often be found crouching at my door, waiting for an opportune time to draw me into its way of looking at my life. Maybe due to my personality I am more susceptible than some to self-pity’s allure, but it has often been an adversary to my joy.
When a person is in bondage, by definition there is a restriction of freedom. We feel that restriction when we find ourselves in bondage to a particular sin. That feeling lets us know that we need to attend to something within our souls…something is going the wrong direction. We are walking the wrong path. I like to tell myself “His rod and His staff will keep me on the path” (Psalm 23:3-4), so I try to pay attention when it seems things are not going as they should.
I don’t know about you, but self-pity causes grouchiness in me. I’m “touchy”— the term the Amplified and Living Bible uses in 1 Corinthians 13:5. When I notice this happening, then I know I need to find out where the irritability is stemming from. I’m out of kilter somewhere and I’ve learned to look for self-pity lurking somewhere in my soul.
I believe the kindness and mercy of God has revealed a cure of sorts for me, a way to resist the attraction that self-pity exudes and see it for what it really is, a trap.
David G. Benner, in his book called Desiring God’s Will wrote what he labels “the liturgy of self.”
“My name be hallowed, my kingdom come, my will be done.”
It is an inversion of the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 and what caught me is the first part: “My name be hallowed.” In the deep parts of every human is the desire to be noticed, to be significant in this world to others, to be recognized as valuable. If we’ve lived long enough, we have seen every attempt imaginable made by people to be seen, to be praised, to be exalted, to be hallowed. The current goal for many is to get a multitude of “likes” on their Facebook posts!
When the validation doesn’t feel sufficient to the effort made, self pity will take advantage of a moment of weakness created by the felt shortage. Self-pity says “You weren’t noticed.” You say to yourself “I wasn’t noticed for my efforts.” Self-pity says “You were cheated.” You say to yourself “I was cheated out of recognition for my efforts.” As that conversation continues, often rather subconsciously, an unhappiness settles into your soul and begins to spread its poison throughout your being. Self-pity has infected you.
So what is the cure when this occurs? How can a person be more resistant to this type of infection? Some will, as I have tried in times past without success, determine that they don’t need recognition, reward, or appreciation for what they do. Yet that has never really addressed the real issue. The real issue may be “who gets honored for the things that I do?”
Going back to the Lord’s Prayer, the Bible says “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be YOUR name.” The word hallowed here means to “be counted holy in human judgment” (Pulpit Commentary), “to receive from all people proper honor” (Barnes’ Notes).
Colossians 3:17 describes how we are to live the rest of our redeemed lives on earth: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Do everything in His name. The reason? “For God is not unjust. He will not forget your work and the love you have shown for His name as you have ministered to the saints and continue to do so” (Hebrews 6:10).
Here is what I believe is the key or the cure to self-pity. To be ever mindful of Heaven’s remembrance of everything you do or say in His name means that you are noticed, are rewarded (Mark 9:41), are valued, and are significant. It’s just not found in the realm where you were looking for it. And this matters.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV).
I use this verse a lot in my conversations, articles, and messages. It is something the Lord has quickened specifically to me in the past year, and it has really helped me and changed where I want to keep my eyes focused as I look at a variety of situations. Applying this focus to the cure of self-pity, I am comforted by the knowledge that God sees and remembers and does reward everything I do or say in His name, for His glory and not mine.
Galatians 5:13 says “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” If at times it seems troublesome to love serving someone, remember you won’t have to serve (or do anything else) apart from Jesus and His grace (John 15:5).
I think deep down we all want to be great. Jesus said in Mark 10:43 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” In this we see how Heaven evaluates greatness. We see what Heaven would click the “like” button for. Do I dare consider the praises of men as dearer to me than the “well done” of God?
We are laying up treasures in Heaven when we no longer strive for our names to be hallowed on earth. If I’m not pursuing my name being hallowed, then all manner of serving takes on Heaven’s significance instead. God’s name being hallowed is often being done in the secret places more than in the limelight of earth, but Heaven sees it clearly, and Heaven’s limelight is all that matters, for it is eternal and love governed.