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. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
This is one of those almost-too-familiar passages that we can often gloss over and say “yes, yes, I already know that one”. But digging deeper it offers some clear guidance on dealing with the situations in our lives – including the situation with our difficult N.
Proverbs 3:5-8 describes a very positive outcome, as well as three conditions for that outcome to take place.
Others frequently state things far better I. Following is one instance.
by John Piper, DesiringGod.com
“Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:31–32)
“Jesus wants his followers to be free from worry. In Matthew 6:25–34, he gives at least seven arguments designed to take away our anxiety. One of them lists food and drink and clothing, and then says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matthew 6:32).
Jesus must mean that God’s knowing is accompanied by his desiring to meet our need. He is emphasizing we have a Father. And this Father is better than any earthly father.
I have five children. I love to meet their needs. But my knowing falls short of God’s knowing in at least three ways.
First, right now I don’t know where any of my children are. I could guess. They’re in their homes or at work or school, healthy and safe. But they might be lying on a sidewalk with a heart attack.
Second, I don’t know what is in their heart at any given moment. I can guess from time to time. But they may be feeling some fear or hurt or anger or lust or greed or joy or hope. I can’t see their hearts. They don’t even know their own hearts perfectly.
Third, I don’t know their future. Right now they may seem well and steady. But tomorrow some great sorrow may befall them.
This means I can’t be for them a very strong reason not to worry. There are things that may be happening to them now, or may happen tomorrow, that I do not even know about. But it is totally different with their Father in heaven. Our Father in heaven! He knows everything about us, where we are, now and tomorrow, inside and out. He sees every need.
Add to that, his huge eagerness to meet our needs. Remember the “much more” of Matthew 6:30, “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?”
Add to that his complete ability to do what he is eager to do (he feeds billions of birds hourly, around the world, Matthew 6:26).
So join me in trusting the promise of Jesus to meet our needs. That’s what Jesus is calling for when he says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.””
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.
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?
The Bible indicates that God is indeed intricately involved in the course of our lives……
9 The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
..and knows every detail…….
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
139 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all……..
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.
..and is thinking about us constantly (10 trillion times per second)
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.
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.
We can be sure that God is intimately involved in the details of our lives, orchestrating everything – even the “bad” things – for ultimate good.
Psalm 2323 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.4 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.5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
5 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. 6 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. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
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.
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 – ” 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord,8 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.
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.
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
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:
12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Psalm 34:4-74 I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5 They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? (John 5:44)
The “belief” Jesus referred to must certainly have been deeper than a surface-level belief, since satan and the demons also have belief at some level……
19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.
The demons believe that God, Jesus, and the Spirit exist (God is One), and are well aware of His power and their ultimate judgement at His hands (the reason for their shuddering). But, in their rebellion against God they rejected His right to rule over them.
That is why real, genuine, sincere saving “belief” goes beyond a mental acknowledgement of God and Jesus, all the way to a true inward and outward acknowledgement of His personal Lordship.
One illustrative image would be that of a medieval duke kissing the ring of the king to acknowledge his kingship, or a mob under-boss kissing the ring of the organization head to publicly pay homage. This public acknowledgement is spoken of several times…
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
1 John 4:15
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
Luke 16:19-31 tells us the story of a rich man, and a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man dressed well, lived in luxury, and was apparently healthy. Lazarus was a beggar, diseased, dirty, and “longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table” (Luke16:21). If I asked, “Who would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus?” you would presumably reply, “The rich man, of course.”
We aren’t told that this rich man was dishonest or irreligious or that he was worse than your average person. We don’t know that he despised poor Lazarus; we only know that he ignored him. He lived his life as if the poor man didn’t exist. He didn’t use his God-provided wealth to care for another man in need.
Both men die. Lazarus goes to Heaven and the rich man goes to hell. When the rich man begs Abraham from across the gulf to send Lazarus to relieve his suffering, Abraham replies, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony” (Luke 16:25).
Now that you’ve heard the rest of the story, who would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus? You’d probably like to switch places, wouldn’t you? But that’s Abraham’s point: After death, it’s too late to switch.
This parable represents a strong and often overlooked New Testament teaching, which we might call “the reversal doctrine.” It teaches that in eternity many of us will find ourselves in opposite conditions from our current situation on earth.
In this life, the rich man “lived in luxury every day,” while Lazarus begged at his gate, living in misery. At the moment of death, their situations reversed—the rich man was in hell’s torment and the poor man in Heaven’s comfort.
It would be both simplistic and theologically inaccurate to conclude that Heaven is earned by poverty and hell is earned by wealth. But this parable is not isolated—it corroborates a host of other teachings by Jesus, as well as those of the apostles.
In the song she composed in anticipation of Christ’s birth, Mary said, “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty” (Luke1:53).
“Blessed are you who are poor,” Jesus says, and “Woe to you who are rich,” precisely because their status will one day be reversed (Luke6:20, 25). The poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and are persecuted will be relieved and fulfilled and have a great reward in heaven (Matthew 5:3-12). Those praised in this world will not be highly regarded in the next, and vice versa (Matthew 6:1-4, 16-18). Those who are exalted in this life will often be humbled in the next; those who are humbled here on earth will be exalted in Heaven (Matthew23:12).
Those who are poor in this world will often be rich in the next, and those who are rich in this world will often be poor in the next (James 1:9-12). The poor are reassured that the hoarding and oppressing rich will one day be punished and the honest poor will be relieved (James 5:1-6). In Revelation 18:7, a voice from Heaven says of materialistic Babylon, “Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself.”
Some of these passages may present us with theological difficulties, but all of them remind us that temporal sacrifices will pay off in eternity and temporal indulgences will cost us in eternity. These are the verses that encouraged Christian slaves and should have served warning to the plantation owners who were profiting from slavery. The reversal doctrine is comforting to the poor and weak, and threatening to the rich and powerful. But it’s a consistent teaching of the New Testament—one that confirms the premise that materialism is not only wrong but stupid. Conversely, trusting God, giving and caring and sharing are not only right but smart.
Someday this upside-down world will be turned right side up. Nothing in all eternity will turn it back again. If we are wise, we will spend our brief lives on earth positioning ourselves for the turn.
“Is this “N” even a Christian?” is a possible question for those dealing with a narcissist* who claims to be a Christian. The narcissist’s claims of being a Christian may stand in stark contrast to how they treat you and others in private.
The answer to this question is quite important, as it determines our understanding of how God is dealing with the narcissist – in terms of both short and long term consequences – as well as how we are to pray about the situation.
There are really two questions involved here. The first question is “Can a narcissist be a Christian” (flipping it, “Can a Christian be a narcissist”?). And the second is “Is THIS particular narcissist a Christian?”
Just because a narcissist claims to be a Christian does not make it so. Jesus said,
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
But the fact that the Bible admonishes believers to give up their pride and walk in a humble manner indicates that genuine Christians can still have remnants of insolent pride in their lives: