Faithlife Sermons

Piper on Self-Pity

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The nature and depth of human pride are illuminated by comparing boasting with self©pity. Both are 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 sacrificed 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 needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire of the self-pitying is not really for others to see them as helpless, but as heroes. The need self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.

Christian Hedonism severs the root of self-pity. People don’t feel self-pity when suffering is accepted for the sake of joy.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11–12)

This is the ax laid to the root of self-pity. When we have to suffer on account of Christ, we do not summon up our own resources like heroes. Rather, we become like little children who trust the strength of their father and who want the joy of his reward. As we saw in the last chapter, the greatest sufferers for Christ have always deflected praise and pity by testifying to their Christian Hedonism.

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