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Self-pity is Sin

Posted by Stuart McCray on

Sin is Sin

Several years ago I read a book by Jerry Bridges entitled, Respectable Sins. In it Bridges says,

On the whole, we appear to be more concerned about the sins of society than we are the sins of the saints. In fact, we often indulge in what i call the "respectable" or even "acceptable" sins without any sense of sin. Our gossip or unkind words about a brother or sister in Christ roll off our tongues without any awareness of wrongdoing. We harbor hurts over wrongs long past without any effort to forgive as God has forgiven us. We look down our religious noses at "sinners" in society without any sense of a humble "there but for the grace of God go I" spirit.

Sin is sin. Even those sins that I call "the acceptable sins of the saints" - those sins that we tolerate in our lives - are serious in God's eyes. Our religious pride, our critical attitudes, our unkind speech about others, our impatience and anger, even our anxiety (see Phi. 4:6); all of these are serious in the sight of God.

This book was timely in my life and really blew me away by helping me see my own besetting sins, and helped me come to a better, real, grasp of "sin is sin".

Self-pity, A Downplayed Sin

Most often it's those "respectable sins" that lie beneath the surface that are our biggest problems. They lie down below the surface of our conviction, like a lion laying low in the tall grass ready to pounce on it's prey, because we've so minimized and suppressed the sinfulness of sin. Here's a minimized sin, that's often pandered to by well-meaning people, self-pity.

I agree with Justin Taylor when he says, "It seems like a neglected and respectable sin that has been downplayed". Self-pity is sin, and it's root is pride. It is the propensity to feel sorry for yourself because you are not getting what you think you deserve. One Biblical Counselor, says it like this, "Self-pity assumes that you deserve good treatment from God and other people, it assumes this because it decrees that you are good, and you are entitled to good. Self-pity exposes self-centeredness."

Self-pity can manifest itself in varying ways and in varying people (most people at one time or another?). Here are some helpful things to consider from Pastor Kevin DeYoung regarding this sin, "Be vigilant against self-pity when it spots like gangrene in your heart. Nothing good comes from feeling sorry for myself when people don't like my ideas, or misjudge my motives, or forget all the good I've done in the past. Crying out to God is one thing. A very good thing too. But self-pity is not that. Self-pity is crying out in the echo chamber of my own little world. It's issuing a lament just to take pleasure in hearing the lament over and over."

The Root of Self-pity, Pride

Pastor John Piper has made a helpful comparison of boasting and self-pity, which are both manifestations of pride, "Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, 'I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.' Self-pity says, 'I deserve admiration because I have suffered so much.' Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing. The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be so needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego. It doesn't come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride."

Jesus Never Gave Way to Self-pity

I've chosen to sin in self-pity before, and I'm sure I will again; and I'm sure it's not a far stretch to say that you have too. Here's the good news though for folks like you and me, Jesus never gave way to self-pity. It's not that He didn't have the opportunity to, it's just the fact that He never did. Not sure, read this:

[Jesus] committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. - 1 Peter 2:22-23

All I can say is that self-pity would be just a part of the sinful things I would probably be tempted to do and most likely choose to sin in if that was me. What's awesome though is that this passage continues,

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. - 1 Peter 2:24-25

Jesus, himself, took on our sin, including that of self-pity, as if it was he who had sinned in self-pity. Why?! So that those who would put their trust in him would die to sin and live to righteousness! Are you struggling with self-pity? Let me encourage you to stop, right now, and repent for this sin before God. God through the Holy Spirit wants to help you look to Jesus and be reminded that He, the One who committed no sin, took on the penalty for your sin of self-pity; Jesus died for your sins, every last one of them, so that you could stand right before Holy God and then subsequently be empowered by the Holy Spirit to leave behind self-pity and live in a manner pleasing to God. I know that this is easier said than done when you're in the midst of a self-pity kick, but take heart, God is at work in you...He's for you, not against you, and in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, God is empowering you to put off the old ways of thinking and doing and to put on the new ways that are righteous, good, and pleasing in His sight.

Tags: jerry bridges, john piper, kevin deyoung, pride, self-pity, sin