Faithlife Sermons

This Is Us - Narcissism

This Is Us  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  23:47
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Are you a narcissist?

Raise your hand if you are a narcissist. Not sure? Here are some signs that you might be a narcissist:
· You might be a narcissist if 80 percent of the pictures in your Snapchat story and Instagram feed have your face in them.
· You might be a narcissist if when you need expert advice, you talk to yourself.
· You might be a narcissist if you do a double take every time you pass a mirror.
I found a couple of funny memes as I was thinking about this concept, and I learned a lot about what narcissism looks like:
go through the memes and talk about them.
But in all reality, this plague of narcissism has become so common in our culture that I think we don’t even recognize it even when it is right in front of us.
Narcissism is the act of being self-absorbed, with a desire for self-promotion, greatness, and significance.
Hear this: at the core of narcissism is the desire to make yourself great and significant above all else. Sounds a lot like our culture, right? But I was thinking recently … “Is this the only culture to have dealt with the plague of narcissism?”
Of course not!
In fact, the concept of narcissism was developed out of Greek mythology. As the story goes, a young man named Narcissus became so enamored with himself that when he saw his reflection in the water, he could not stop staring at himself and died of starvation. That story is thousands of years old.
However, even though the concept of narcissism is not new, as I thought about other societies throughout history, I couldn’t help but notice that many societies in history were more “we” focused. Life was about the family, the tribe, the clan. You did whatever needed to be done to benefit the community and the whole.

There was a time when life was all about “we,” but our culture today is all about “me.”

The truth is we live in a narcissistic society, and I wonder how many of us have become victims and not even known it.
And you might not think it’s a big deal, but what if narcissism is ruining your relationships? What if narcissism is keeping you from a life of peace and joy? What if narcissism is keeping you from having the intimacy with Jesus that you want?
I think that narcissism is more than just a personality thing or a psychological thing—I think that it’s a spiritual thing, with spiritual implications.
And truth be told, I think more of us suffer from the plague of narcissism than we realize—myself included.
It does not matter who you are—Christian or not—the effects of narcissism are always damaging.
Tonight, I want to talk with you about a man in Scripture who dealt with narcissism, and show you how it negatively impacted him. We are going to see what we can learn from his story.
Acts 8:9–11 CSB
A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and amazed the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, “This man is called the Great Power of God.” They were attentive to him because he had amazed them with his sorceries for a long time.

Simon the Sorcerer

Who was this guy named Simon the Magician?
· He did magic to make himself appear great among the people. This was probably more like witchcraft than illusions.
· He liked to be known as great.
· He called himself great.
· The people paid attention to him.
How many of us have desired attention, and for someone to pay attention to us? And how many of you have ever used a skill or a gift to accomplish this?
When we meet Simon the Magician, we see a man who is desperate for significance—he is desperate to be seen and known.
Acts 8:12–13 CSB
But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he followed Philip everywhere and was amazed as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.
Simon had to face the tough reality that no matter how great he tried to make himself, Jesus was greater!
And the same is true for you and me.
There is a desire inside all of us to make ourselves great. It is a desire that has been with us since the beginning. It was the desire to be great that caused Adam and Eve to eat the fruit in the garden. It was the desire to be great that caused Lucifer to fall from heaven. It was the desire to be great that made the people build the Tower of Babel.
When the desire to be great consumes you, it ends in tragedy. Adam and Eve’s pursuit of greatness led to sin entering the world and getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Lucifer’s pursuit of greatness led to getting kicked out of heaven and becoming God’s eternal enemy. The people at the Tower of Babel’s pursuit of greatness led to a dispersion of people and confusion of languages. There is a principle from these examples that we must remember

Chasing the satisfaction of greatness will leave you unsatisfied.

Chasing the satisfaction of greatness will leave you unsatisfied.
This is what narcissism does: it leads us to focus on ourselves so much—and yet in all of our efforts we are left very unsatisfied.
Acts 8:14–19 CSB
When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. After they went down there, they prayed for them so the Samaritans might receive the Holy Spirit because he had not yet come down on any of them. (They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.”
There are two things we need to notice here. First, Simon is back in Samaria in verse 18, but in verse 13, we are told that Simon continued with Philip.
Why is this?
Could it be that Simon traveled with Philip for a short time and then simply decided to come back home? Perhaps, but I wonder if there was something more.
You see, when we first meet Simon, he is considered great by the people, and he received a lot of attention from the people. But this all changed when when the message of Jesus showed up and became first in the people’s hearts.
Greatness is addicting. Could it be that Simon set out to travel with Philip, hoping that maybe if he could do what Philip was doing, he could somehow attain the greatness that he had in Samaria?
Could Simon have been using proximity with Philip as a means to make himself feel significant and great?
We will never know 100 percent, but I do know that when we become self-absorbed and desire greatness, we will do whatever it takes to get it—even if it means using others.
Here is the danger of chasing greatness:

Chasing greatness causes me to use you to benefit me.

Chasing greatness causes me to use you to benefit me.
The problem is, when you use people to make yourself feel significant, you end up feeling even more frustration and insecurity.
The second thing we notice about this situation is that Simon witnesses the great things that the apostles are doing, and in an instant, he saw his route to significance and greatness again.
And he was willing to do anything to get it!
“I’ll give ANYTHING for significance! I’m so desperate to be seen and known that I will pay for it!”
Acts 8:20–23 CSB
But Peter told him, “May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart’s intent may be forgiven. For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by wickedness.”
The result of narcissism is bitterness. Narcissism leads you to focus so much on making yourself great—a desire that can never be fully satisfied—so it leaves you stewing in bitterness: disappointed in yourself, jealous of others, and frustrated when someone has success and you don’t.

When you idolize greatness, it becomes the fuel for bitterness

When you idolize greatness, it becomes the fuel for bitterness
How many of you have seen the movie Miracle? It’s a hockey movie, we should watch it. It’s about the US Men’s Hockey Team that won the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics. The Soviet Union team was supposed to win. It was a big upset underdog story. The movie tells the story.
In a huge scene, the team loses a preliminary game because the players aren’t working together. They are all from rival teams/colleges and are constantly trying to get all the glory for themselves. After losing the game, coach is done. He keeps them on the ice and has them do drills. Over and over again.
There’s a golden line in there. The Coach says the name on the front of your jersey (the team name) is way more important than the name on the back of the jersey.
These players were stuck just playing for themselves. We should ask ourselves this same question: who do you play for?
Are you playing for yourself? Is it all about you? Or is there something or someone greater you are living for?
We become narcissists when we are more concerned with the name on the back of the jersey rather than the name on the front.
And if you are a Christian, you bear the name “Christian”—Christ follower—Jesus.
Narcissism is calling; idolizing greatness is calling; fighting for your own significance is calling.
Will you walk away from the cultural pull toward these things, and will you settle into hungering for more of Jesus and using your life to make Him great?
Will you be more concerned with the name on the front than the name on the back?

Focus on how great God is, not on how great you want to be.

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