Foundations – Boundlessly Good

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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We have discussed in previous posts the importance of viewing our circumstances through the lens of God’s goodness.  The most comprehensive discussion of God’s goodness ever written was by Stephen Charnock in his book on the Existence and Attributes of God.   It is a difficult read due to its length (1100 pages) and language style (17th century Elizabethan English).   A modern version of Charnock’s chapter on the goodness of God has just been released, called Boundlessly Good:  God’s Motive For All That He Does.  It is shorter (print version is 130 pages, Kindle version is 236 pages) and much more readable due to modern sentence structures, etc.

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boundlessly-good-book-cover

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If you truly want to begin to understand the “why’s”, I would encourage you to look at this book.  It has been a life-changer for me.

Dealing With The Dread of Getting Through Another Day

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Matthew 6:34

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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Many of you may think “how am I going to get through this one more day”?  Or possibly living in dread of an event coming up that you are pretty sure your N is going to spoil.  Or something similar.

There’s another way to look at it.  If you look at this through the lens of God’s goodness (i.e. – everything that happens to you is good – it is just a matter of HOW it is good), and if you believe that God’s grace is fully sufficient for every need and that He will provide it as it’s needed – then you can view the impending possible difficulty as an opportunity for God to show Himself strong on your behalf – either through working to shield you, or to give you the measure of internal grace needed to experience joy in the midst of trouble.  In other words, rather than dreading it, you could look forward with anticipation to seeing God work on your behalf.

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2 Chronicles 16:9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His……

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2 Corinthians 12:9

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

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But as Jesus taught His disciples to pray…..

Matthew 6:11

11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

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……He does not give us tomorrow’s provision today, He will give that tomorrow – and give today’s provision today, as it is needed.  This gives us the opportunity to rely on Him, to trust Him, to need Him just a little bit more.  And that daily need for Him further builds our relationship with Him.

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John Piper has a very helpful illustration in his book “Future Grace“.  Piper said to picture God’s promise that His provision of grace will be there when needed like a river flowing toward the edge of a waterfall.  The river illustrates the grace coming to us in the future, and the edge of the waterfall is “today” or “this minute”.  God is promising the river of grace to continue to flow toward us, while we experience this moment’s grace at the edge of the waterfall.  The river of grace continuing to flow can give us peace today that the grace needed tomorrow will be there tomorrow.  Therefore, we can simply focus on applying His grace at this moment, and trust Him for future moments.

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Moving-picture-Niagara-Fall-waterfall-animated-gif

 

Part of our peace today that grace will be there tomorrow is the anticipation of the opportunity to learn and grow, and to see God act (in big or little ways) on our behalf.  While for some, the particular trial may not last very long, for others it may last a lifetime.  But we can trust that God has His loving purposes in either case, and that the lesson of trusting Him today for the grace needed tomorrow will carry us throughout our entire lives.

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Putting “Biblical Perspectives On Narcissism” Into Perspective

Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc – To Motivate Us To Seek The Ultimate Answer

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2 Samuel 22:7 / Psalm 18:6 (the same verse in 2 places)

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.

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Psalm 34:4-6

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.

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When things are going “well”, our natural inclination is to forget God, to not think that we need Him.  We naturally tend to take His goodness for granted.  An analogy would be teenagers that simply assume that their parents’ housing, food, access to a car, etc  will be there, without really having an interest in spending time with their parents – they just use their parents’ stuff to have a good time, without caring much about their relationship with their parents. Continue reading

Why God “Allows” Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – Viewing Our Situation Through The Lens of God’s Goodness

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Psalm 31:19

19 How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!

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[See here for the road map for this discussion on why God allows narcissists to wreak havoc]

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Matthew 7:11

11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

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Lamentations 3:22-25

22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.

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Since

  1. God’s purposes, plans, and providences in our lives ultimately flow out of his divine nature, and since
  2. His divine nature includes being completely wise, good, loving, and just (among many other things), and since
  3. He has the power to implement what He decides, and the ability to use evil for accomplishing good

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Then, we can safely assume that everything that comes our way is not just allowed, but designed by God for our good.  So, rather than seeing things that happen to us as either “good” or “bad”, we can safely view everything that happens to us as “good”.  The only question is “how is God being good to us in this particular situation”?

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That is what we intend to explore in the next phase of this discussion on why God allows Narcissists to wreak havoc.  The intent is to  move from “why is God doing this to me?” and “how do I escape this?” to “how is God intending this bad situation for my good?” and “how do I wisely deal with it?”.  And, ultimately, to trust Him even when we cannot figure out what He is doing. Continue reading

Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – “You Meant It For Evil, But God Meant It For Good”

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Genesis 50:20

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

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This was an incredible statement by Joseph to his brothers many years after they had sold him to slave traders – the start of a series of seemingly very bad things that Joseph had experienced at the hands of others.  He then went from being a slave to getting thrown into prison.  And even when he got out of prison he was stuck in a country not his own.  He was sold at age 17, and got out of prison at age 30 – 40 percent of a young life that was permanently altered in the process.

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It wasn’t until well over 10 years after getting out of prison that Joseph said these words to his brothers.  During the 13 years that he was a slave and in prison we do not know what he was thinking and feeling – it could easily have been a combination of things – wrestling with the situation he was in, occasional anger at his brothers, while also trusting God in the midst of his difficulties*.  We do know that he acted honorably and faithfully during those 13 years (Genesis 39).  We also know that God took care of Joseph even in his difficulties.  And we know that somehow during that time, God gave Joseph the understanding that HE was ultimately controlling things for ultimate good.

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The point for us is that more than God allowing evil, and more than God making good out of evil (“when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”), God planned for the evil actions to be used for good – “God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).

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The difficult to accept, but important to understand point, is that God may be using your narcissist for good.  Yes, we need to exercise practical wisdom in dealing with them.  And yes, there are times to avoid them (see here, here, here, here, and here).  And it certainly is not easy.  But, the fact that they are in our lives is not random, but somehow designed by God for our good.  This may be a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you may have experienced a lot of pain at the hand of your narcissist.  But taking this more constructive approach to how we view the situation can be a big step in moving toward real and lasting healing, and gaining victory over the situation.

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God using evil for good is one of the most difficult questions out there, but it must be addressed if we hope to get to the bottom of things.  And this is one of the handful of questions that people tend to choke on in their search for God.

God is much wiser (and more loving) than we are.  So we must approach this question from the viewpoint that God knows what He is doing, and that evil fits in with His plan of love.

We will explore how God might be using them for good in the next few blog posts.

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For those of you wanting to dig deeper into this subject, here are some additional resources:

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From Randy Alcorn

There Is No Pointless Suffering

If God Is Good:  Faith In The Midst Of Suffering and Evil

From the Blue Letter Bible

The Problem Of Evil

From Desiring God

Call That Love by Jonathan Parnell

Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained That Evil Be  by John Piper

John Piper on Man’s Sin and God’s Sovereignty

Seven Things The Bible Says About Evil  by Johnathan Bowers

For Your Joy   by John Piper

Can A Good God Bring Pain  by Dave Zuleger

From Grace To You (John MacArthur)

Joseph:  Because God Meant It For Good

From Tim Keller

With All This Suffering, How Could There Be A God?

 

 

 

 

Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Providence

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Psalm 37:23-24

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

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 [Please see here for the road map of the discussion on Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc]

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We discussed here about God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love.  The next question is whether that “big picture” plan for a purpose of love also includes a detailed plan for individuals?  Is God actually in fact orchestrating everything in our lives according to a plan – even the little details of our lives, and even our difficulties with our Narcissist?

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The Bible indicates that God is indeed intricately involved in the course of our lives……

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Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.

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..and knows every detail…….

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Luke 12:6-7

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

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 Psalm 139

139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all……..

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13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

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..and is thinking about us constantly (10 trillion times per second)

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Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

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Alistair Begg has some good introductory thoughts about this subject, as well as a clear example of how God orchestrated many details in saving a person (Mordecai) and a group of people (the Jews) from the hands of a Narcissist (Haman) – discussed in the Old Testament book of Esther.  These clips may be a little long for the YouTube generation, but its worth a look.   You will enjoy listening to his practical perspective, as well as his humor and his Scottish accent.

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We can be sure that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, orchestrating everything – even the “bad” things – for ultimate good.

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Psalm 23

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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

 

Why God Allows Narcissists To Wreak Havoc – Foundations – God’s Plan For A Purpose Of Love, Part 2

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See here for the road map for this discussion, and see here for Part 1

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God’s plan for a purpose of love IS based on a plan – which God wisely developed, and detailed right from the start.

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Isaiah 46:8-10

“Remember this, and be assured;
Recall it to mind, you transgressors.
“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;

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The only way that God could “declare the end”, “from the beginning””in ancient times” (an understatement for eternity past), would be to work out right from the start all of the details of His plan, and be able to guarantee the execution of each of those details.  Any other way would cause the plan to veer off course.  Think about some of your own plans that you made in your life – they never worked out exactly as planned because there were always details that you were simply not able to control.  This did not happen with God’s plan.  He wisely planned all of the details and controlled them, so that He could declare right at the start what would be the outcome of His plan – the fullest expression of His nature (love, justice, etc) and strength.

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Continue reading

Why God “Allows” N’s To Wreak Havoc? – Foundations – God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love

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Click here for the road map on this discussion about Why God Allows Narcissists* To Wreak Havoc

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Ephesians 1:8-12

….. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He (God) purposed in Him (Jesus) ……..11 …… who (God) works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

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God’s will is based on a loving purpose (“kind intention”).  That loving purpose is based on His inherent nature (“God is love” – 1 John 4:8).  And He executes everything, down to the tiniest detail, according to the plan which he has created (“works all things after the counsel of His will”).

The end of all of it is that we will praise Him for his manifold excellence (“praise of His glory”) which He has shown in every possible way – and of which we have been made a prime beneficiary.

When we ask Why He is allowing a Narcissist to wreak havoc in our lives, we can be sure that it is not just some random thing going on – there is a much bigger plan in play, and the essence of that plan is love.

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Continue reading

Why God Allows N’s To Wreak Havoc – The Road Map

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Romans 8:28

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose……

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[Note:  After spending much time on descriptive aspects of who narcissists are like their “traits” and “tactics”, we are finally getting into the “why’s”  and “how’s” – Why God allows narcissists to wreak havoc, and How narcissists got that way]

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Part of successfully navigating the Narcissist* in our life is to understand some possible reasons why God is allowing this to happen to us.  The purpose is to not ask “WHY ME?”, but to better discern His loving will and ways for the purpose of getting in sync with God – for our good and His glory.

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When God orchestrates something in our lives, there is not just one reason He is doing it – He is simultaneously intricately stitching together many, many things in our lives and the lives of others as part of His Tapestry.  So, while we are attempting to understand what’s going on in a situation, we must also realize that at the end of the day we must trust Him – because we will never fully know and understand this side of Heaven.  There is a place for both understanding and at the same time a place for childlike trust in a loving Heavenly Father.

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But in the interest of gaining some degree of understanding as to “why” God allows N’ to wreak havoc in our and others’ lives, we are going to attempt to work through the following during the next few weeks:

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Why God Allows Narcissists to Wreak Havoc

  • Introduction & Foundations
    • God’s Plan For A Purpose of Love, Part 1
    • God’s Plan For a Purpose of Love, Part 2
    • Providence – God’s Detailed Plan For A Purpose of Love
    • “You Meant It For Evil, But God Meant It For Good”
    • Viewing Our Circumstances Through The Lens of God’s Goodness
  • How God Uses Narcissists (Even For Good)
    • To motivate us to seek Him
    • To force us to seek true wisdom
    • To test our loyalties
    • To refine us
    • To show us the folly of seeking our own way
    • To develop in us His ultimate goal of genuine love
    • As part of His plan for others to know God personally
    • To direct us
    • To give us ultimate happiness
  • Post Script
    • God deals with His “tools”

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Stay tuned……

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

The Opposite Of Narcissism Is Love – Intro

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails…….

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We would normally think that the opposite of narcissism / insolent pride is humility – which is true.  But, insolent pride is also the opposite of genuine love.   According to the verses above, love

  • Is kind
  • Is not jealous
  • Does not brag
  • Is not arrogant
  • Does not seek its own
  • Is not provoked
  • Does not take into account a wrong suffered

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These are the polar opposites of the traits shown by narcissists.   As we will discuss going forward, the contrast between narcissism and genuine love is fundamental to helping us understand:

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  • the real (eternal) consequences which narcissists have chosen for themselves
  • why God allows them to wreak havoc
  • how God wants us to respond and deal with them
  • why it is important that we look at our own hearts even while we are struggling with the N in our lives

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

 

Why Does God Allow Narcissists* to Wreak Havoc? – Introduction

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Why does God allow narcissists* to wreak havoc?  This is a tough question.  Its a cousin to the question, “why does God allow Satan to hang around and cause so much destruction in the world, when HE could wipe Satan out at any time of HIS choosing?”

There is a significant amount of discussion required in order to provide the proper context for a full answer.

But a partial shorthand answer is:

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Proverbs 16:4 – The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.
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Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.   
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Ephesians 1:8-12In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
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In summary, God has made narcissists* for our good, and His glory.
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Seven possible purposes for God allowing narcissists into our lives are:
  1. For testing, to see where our hearts lie
  2. For disciplining / chastening
  3. To motivate us to prune things in our lives
  4. For our refinement to conform us more into the image of Christ
  5. To help us gain wisdom
  6. To provide an example and contrast between God’s way of humility and Satan’s way of pride
  7. To provide an opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf, as HE rescues us out of the narcissists’ hands

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Some of the above can actually be a matter of one thing leading to the next.  A failure in #1 can directly lead to #2, and #3.  Responding positively to #2 and #3, can lead to #4 and #5, which can subsequently lead to #6 and #7.

We will discuss #1 through #7 much more fully in the future, with the proper Biblical foundation.

 

* Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”.  See here for an explanation.

 

 

Be Loved, To Love

We Love Because He First Loved Us

Boundlessly Good

God's Motive For All That He Does