Actions Speak Louder

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Most of you have heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.  This well-worn phrase from the past, like many others, actually has a Biblical foundation.  Consider these for example,

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By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;    I John 2:3-4

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John’s point is that the proof of your what’s in your heart is in what you do, not in what you say.  If you say something and do the opposite, it is what you do that counts.

Titus said the same thing;

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They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.     Titus 1:16

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As did James

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What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?   James 2:14-16

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No matter what they may claim, a narcissist’s functional (actual) philosophy is just the opposite.  They believe that what they claim is what really counts.

David accurately described them in Psalm 12

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They speak falsehood to one another;
With flattering lips and with a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
The tongue that speaks great things;
Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”   Psalm 12:2-4

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Narcissists believe that they can achieve what they want through words, even if those words have no underlying substance.

A narcissist may get away with this “all talk, no action” approach for awhile, but it will catch up with them at some point.  They may fool some people for awhile, or jump from person to person to avoid being found out, but as always God has the last say in everything.

He sees their act, knows the lack of substance, and makes the final judgment based on actions, not words.

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“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.     Matthew 7:21-23

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Dealing With Narcissists – Don’t Take It To The Boss

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Do not slander slave to his master, Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

Proverbs 30:10

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It is very tempting when you are dealing with a narcissist co-worker to “take it to boss”.  However, this has a high likelihood of backfiring.   In the process you will likely get something wrong – the way you approached it, your attitude, getting one or more facts wrong, etc.  The narcissist will typically quickly figure out what you have done wrong, and somehow use that to turn the tables on you.

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Narcissist Case Study – Simon The Magician

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Acts 8:9-24

Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, Continue reading

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Crying Out, Seeking God – continued

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James 1:5-8

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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When dealing with an N that is driving us crazy, in addition to crying out “God help me!”, God invites us to ask Him for wisdom.  This is HIS wisdom – not human wisdom – including practical  tips, things of the heart, and even things from God’s perspective.  James says that if you ask for wisdom, He will give it to you – generously.

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But there is an important qualifier to getting this wisdom – “not doubting”.  The doubting here is not so much doubting as to whether you will receive the wisdom, but doubting as to whether you really want it – whether you really want to do things God’s way even if He gave you the clear right answers.   We know this is through James’ statement in verse 7 – ” For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”   Double-mindedness is to have two minds or opinions on the same subject – wanting to do things God’s way, but at the same time wanting what we ourselves want.  With that heart, God could tell us the right answer, and we might not even know we received the answer because we were only looking for the answer we wanted to see.  In order to ask for true wisdom in dealing with the situation, to receive it, and to KNOW that we have received it, we must start with the heart attitude that we will act on the wisdom God gives us without interjecting our own “will” into the matter.

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This invitation to ask for wisdom is in the context of trials, which James describes as tests (we will look into this later).  Of course, our challenge with our narcissist certainly qualifies as a trial and a test.

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James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

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So go ahead – ask for wisdom in how to deal with your challenging narcissist.  But don’t expect to get what you are asking for unless you are truly serious about doing it His way instead of your own way.  All along being aware of the admonition in Proverbs:

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Proverbs 14:12

12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

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Dealing With Narcissists* – Crying Out, Seeking God

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Psalm 34:4-7

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
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Often, we will not have any idea what to do with the difficult Narcissist-caused circumstance in which we find ourselves.  After struggling and searching about on our own for answers, we may ultimately reach the end of our rope – where the only thing we are able to do is to cry out to the Lord to help us, to save us, to deliver us.  We may not know what to ask for, but simply to ask God for a miracle.  While we may not see any immediate answers, this crying out to God and asking for help can be the first step of a process where He will bring us to much firmer ground.  We may not even see that this crying out is the first step – until we look backwards months or years in the future.
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We probably needed to get to our wit’s end, to be exhausted of all our answers, in order to motivate us to finally look up to Him for help.  And even though we made God our last resort instead of our first resort, He will graciously and lovingly respond in helping us – although it may be a process instead of a bolt-of-lightning miracle.  God has been there waiting to help us all along.

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It’s Not NPD, It’s A Heart Issue

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1 John 2:16

16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.

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According to I John 2:16, ultimately all “sin issues” that people have (“all that is in the world”) can be boiled down to one of three root causes

  1. Lust / sexual immorality (“the lust of the flesh”)
  2. The desire for things (“the lust of the eyes”)
  3. Pride and the desire to exalt oneself (“the boastful pride of life”).

It could also be a combination of one or more as illustrated by the Pharisees’ taking actions to fulfill desires (“lust of the eyes”) that they then covered up so that they would not look bad (“boastful pride of life”). Continue reading

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A Prayer For God To Show Whose Side He’s On

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David dealt with three big narcissists in his life – his oldest brother Eliab, his benefactor Saul, and his son Absalom.  As David was “a man after God’s heart” who turned his hurts into prayers, it is divinely natural for David to talk to God about those in his life with insolent pride.  These prayers in the Psalms provide a range of examples for how we can pray in our own difficult situations.

One example is in Psalm 86:14-17

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O God, arrogant men have risen up against me,
And a band of violent men have sought my life,
And they have not set You before them.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.

Turn to me, and be gracious to me;
Oh grant Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your handmaid.
Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

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The word David uses for “arrogant” in verse 14 is “zed”, the same word for insolent pride found in Proverbs 21:24 – “proud, haughty, scoffer, are his names who acts with insolent pride”.

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David specifically prayed for 4 things.

  • “Turn to me and gracious to me” – David humbly asked God for His gracious help
  • “Grant Your strength to Your servant – David didn’t ask that he would be stronger, but that God would give David HIS strength – a much stronger strength
  • “Save the son of Your handmaid” – David cried to God, “save me!”
  • “Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed”

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This last one is particular interesting.  David asked God to do something special for him that would prove to the arrogant narcissist that God was on his side.

Narcissists are in a power play with their targets in a quest for dominance.  This leaves the target with two “natural” choices – fight back to win, or acquiesce and be a doormat.  (In some cases you can avoid them – see here).   But there is another option – rather than do head to head battle with someone seeking superiority, David showed that we can invite God into the picture.  God can exalt us in front the narcissist in a way that puts the narcissist in his place.

This sign of favor may not always come on our timetable, but just as God will ultimately show with Jesus, it will come.

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Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.    Philippians 2:5-11

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Please see here for initial steps to peace with God

 

 

 

 

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Dealing With Narcissists – Let God Defend You Through His Goodness

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Psalm 119:41-42

May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord,
Your salvation according to Your word;
So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

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For those of us who have tried to defend ourselves in the face of a narcissist’s* attack, we have typically seen that it does not work.  Any defense we make usually just gives the N additional ammunition.  Continue reading

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Narcissist* Traits – Don’t Rely On Their Inflated, False Claims

 

Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.
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 “Clouds and wind without rain” may not mean much to today’s urbanites – its a word picture from an agrian time.  But to a farmer looking for the crucial rain needed for a successful crop, clouds and wind are signs that the necessary rain should be coming soon.  Then, if does not come, the farmer is let down that the promise of rain did not result in actual rain.
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Dealing with Narcissists – Do Not Turn To Them For Help

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How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You.   Psalm 40:4-5

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In our zeal to get something done, or out of desperation to resolve a situation we often look for help in the wrong places.  And the result may be that we find ourselves worse off than before.  This can be especially true of reaching out to narcissists (insolent pride / proud / haughty / scoffers) for help.    There are practical reasons why God warns us not to reach out to narcissists:

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  1. The narcissist will many times “get it wrong” (see here and here)
  2. God is fundamentally opposed to a narcissist’s pride, so HE is not likely to bless the work of their hands (James 4 and here)
  3. Narcissists are unreliable (Psalm 5)
  4. Narcissists have a self-centered agenda, so they will turn things around from helping you to somehow helping or glorifying themselves – while making a big show about helping (Proverbs 25:14 and here and here)
  5. Narcissists will likely try to take over – but only to the extent that they can command you what to do, not to the extent of actually helping (see here)
  6. The Narcissist will likely create much more conflict than any actual help they provide (see here)
  7. Narcissists will make sure to tell you that they themselves would never have gotten into the situation that you’re in (see here)

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But there are also other reasons “why” God wants to turn to Him in our time of need, rather than to an arrogant human.  He is constantly seeking to help us further see and understand His unlimited love, knowledge, wisdom, and faithfulness.

“Many O Lord My God are the wonders which You have done” is a wild understatement.  David is saying, “You have already worked an infinite amount of miracles”.

God has already demonstrated His unlimited ability to work, so why should we go for a false source of help?

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Please see here for initial steps to peace with God.

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  • Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here

 

 

 

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The Pharisee and the Publican

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Jesus illustrated how a scoffer operates through a story of a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the temple:

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And He (Jesus) also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’

But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’.  I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

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Key phrases in the story match the definition of a narcissist given in Proverbs 21:24 (“proud, haughty, scoffer are his names who acts with insolent pride”).

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The Pharisee was

  1. Proud (of his accomplishments) – “(Jesus) told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous”, “(The Pharisee) was praying this to himself”, “I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get”
  2. Haughty – “God, I thank you that I am not like other people…”
  3. A scoffer – “Viewed others with contempt”

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The Pharisee viewed himself as better than “others” (as represented by the guy standing next to him).  And Jesus specifically says that he “exalted himself” and “viewed others with contempt.”  The Biblical word for contempt here is eksouthenéō[i].

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eksouthenéō[ii]:  to cast out as nothing; “to count as nothing, to treat with utter contempt, i.e. as zero”; “despise utterly”; to regard something as lacking any standing (value).

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Contempt[iii] is disapproval tinged with disgust; i.e. – to feel contempt for a weakling.  Disdain is a feeling that a person or thing is beneath one’s [a narcissist’s*] dignity and unworthy of one’s notice, respect or concern.  Noun – The feeling with which a person regards anything considered worthless

The Pharisee’s self-exaltation left no room in his heart for the man next to him, whom he considered to be not even be worthy of his consideration.

The term “Pharisee” was shorthand for this character type, but not all Pharisees were this way.  For example, Nicodemus (John 3) was a secret believer, and Gamaliel (Acts 5), the grandson of Hillel the Elder, was genuinely open to God’s purposes.  Also, John 12:42 says that “many even of the rulers were believing in Him”.

The above example is derived from a comparison of traits pointing to this Pharisee as a case study on the Biblical equivalent of narcissism, but we have an even more direct connection.  The Bible called out the Pharisees in general as scoffers hundreds of years before they appeared.  They provide a particularly robust case study.

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[i] https://biblehub.com/greek/1848.htm

[ii] From HELPS Word Studies

[iii] From dictionary.com

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Narcissist Case Studies – The Pharisees – How Jesus Responded To Their Backbiting

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Matthew 9:9-13

As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He *said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.

Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?”  ut when Jesus heard this, He said, It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassionand not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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[Note:  Please see herehere, and here on how we know that the Pharisees were narcissists]

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Here are some observations:

  1. The Pharisees wouldn’t be caught dead eating with the tax collectors and sinners – they were too much above that.
  2. But, Jesus showed them up by eating with the tax collectors and sinners, and not doing things “the Pharisees’ way”
  3. So,while the Pharisees could not criticize Jesus for who He was (ie NOT a tax collector and sinner), they criticized Him for associating with people that they had deemed “unacceptable”.  He was not following THEIR self-made rules of who you could and could not associate with
  4. But rather than taking their issue to Jesus, they sniped at him to His disciples.  Cowardly?  Trying to undermine Him by driving a wedge between Jesus and His disciples – planting seeds of doubt in their minds?
  5. In this instance, Jesus proactively responded to their criticism.  As the Pharisees’ comments were not directed directly to Him He could have let it go.   It says “when Jesus heard this” – it may have been that the disciples reported the Pharisees’ comments to Him.

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Why and How did He respond?

  1. He may have wanted to deal with the doubt about Him which the Pharisees seeded in the minds of His disciples
  2. He used the Pharisees’ criticism of His ministry as an opportunity to teach the disciples what His ministry was all about.  God used the narcissists to present Jesus with a teaching moment.  And Jesus knew what to do with that opportunity.
  3. Jesus did not rebuke the Pharisees (do not rebuke a scoffer or he will hate you).  Instead He gave them them the same lesson He taught His disciples – “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.”
  4. But then He also admonished them with an instruction / challenge – “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassionand not sacrifice,’”
  5. And finally, He explained Himself with a truth (“for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”) that they could easily use to justify themselves – if they were further hardening their hearts by continuing to think that they were  – or use to seek Him.   IE – a Pharisee who heard Jesus’ last phrase could easily say, “Oh right, He’s here for the bad guys, not me”, or he could humble himself and say, “I’m a sinner, and He’s here to help guys like me”, and begin to seek Him.  Its a parable that gave enough truth to seek Him with, for those who were willing.

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Narcissistic Traits – “I would never have done it that way”

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Matthew 23:29-30 –  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’

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The Pharisees were saying in effect, “I would never have done it the way they did it.”  This is a classic statement from a narcissist / scoffer (see here and here how the Pharisees were narcissists / scoffers with insolent pride).   In this situation these narcissists were doing two things at the same time

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  1. They were setting themselves up as judge of other’s actions (see here for Scoffers – Narcissists as Judge)
  2. They were setting themselves up as superior to the other person.  But as typical of the Narcissist, the superiority was only in their own minds – not in reality – and didn’t actually have to be demonstrated.  It is very easy to say after the fact “I would never have done that”, when you don’t have to actually prove it through your actions.

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To top it off, they were so arrogant that they were willing to trash their own ancestors in order to exalt themselves.

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But Jesus turned the tables and called them on it:

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Matthew 23:31-32 – So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

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Entrapment To Destroy

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The scribes and the chief priests tried to lay hands on Him that very hour, and they feared the people; for they understood that He spoke this parable against them.  So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 

They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.  Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”  

But He detected their trickery and said to them, “Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.”  And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they were unable to catch Him in a saying in the presence of the people; and being amazed at His answer, they became silent.

Luke 20:19-26

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The Pharisees here were clear examples of narcissists.  There are several lessons on how narcissists operate from the above narrative:

  • The scoffers (narcissists) tried to eliminate the threat to their supremacy.
  • They attempted to entrap Jesus by presenting a no-win situation, on a subject that could get Him in deep trouble with the authorities if He answered wrong.
  • They sent others to do their dirty work (this time).

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Notice the flattery these Pharisees used as part of their work to ruin Jesus.   In verse 21, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth.”  This is what is discussed in Proverbs:

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A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin.

Proverbs 26:28

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They Snipe At Those Of Whom They Are Jealous

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And Levi gave a big reception for Him in his house; and there was a great crowd of tax collectors and other people who were reclining at the table with them.  The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 5:29-32

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The Pharisees were jealous of the attention and honor Jesus was receiving at this reception organized especially for Him.  Rather than recognize their own jealously, they began to sneeringly condemn and criticize everyone else at the reception.  They took a condescending, judgmental, holier-than-thou attitude toward the entire crowd by labeling them all as sinners, and then arrogantly judged Jesus for not separating from the guests.  They showed their insincere cowardice by whispering against Jesus behind his back instead of approaching him with their concerns.   This was all an arrogant outflowing of their jealously – cloaked as “holiness”.

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Jesus knew about the Pharisees grumbling to His disciples.  He could have rebuked them for the jealously at the root of their comments, or for their insolent pride at looking down upon virtually everyone in the room.  However, lowering himself to their level, He pointed them and anyone else listening to a much higher point – the need for the willing to recognize their spiritual sickness.  The proud Pharisees naturally would not recognize their need and would not receive healing.

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This was both a subtle rebuke to the Pharisees’ self-centered blind jealously, a demonstration of His willingness to confront others’ error for the disciples’ benefit.  And in the process, He demonstrated Proverbs 26:4-5:

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.  Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.

Proverbs 26:4-5

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