“Over the years I have discovered that praying with people can sometimes do more for them than preaching to them. Prayer draws the heart away from one’s own dependence to a position of leaning on the sovereign God. The burden is often lifted instantly.
Prayer is only one aspect of worship, but one that is greatly neglected in the face of people who would be shocked to hear what prayer sounds like when the one praying knows how to touch the heart of God. To a person in need, pat answers don’t change the mind; prayer does.”
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.
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
- Lust / sexual immorality (“the lust of the flesh”)
- The desire for things (“the lust of the eyes”)
- 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
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
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.
2 Chronicles 16:9
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……
2 Corinthians 12:9
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.
But as Jesus taught His disciples to pray…..
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
……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.
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.
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.
How Christ Conquered Bitterness by John Piper
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
No one was more grievously sinned against than Jesus. Every ounce of animosity against him was fully undeserved.
No one has ever lived who was more worthy of honor than Jesus; and no one has been dishonored more.
If anyone had a right to get angry and be bitter and vengeful, it was Jesus. How did he control himself when scoundrels, whose very lives he sustained, spit in his face? 1 Peter2:23 gives the answer.
What this verse means is that Jesus had faith in the future grace of God’s righteous judgment. He did not need to avenge himself for all the indignities he suffered, because he entrusted his cause to God. He left vengeance in God’s hands and prayed for his enemies’ repentance (Luke 23:34).
Peter gives this glimpse into Jesus’ faith so that we would learn how to live this way ourselves. He said, “You have been called [to endure harsh treatment patiently] . . . because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
If Christ conquered bitterness and vengeance by faith in future grace, how much more should we, since we have far less right to murmur for being mistreated than he did?
2 Corinthians 12:7
7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!
Sometimes, God uses His tools not for “corrective” or “refining” purposes, but for pre-emptive purposes. In I Corinthians 12:1-10, Paul had done nothing wrong. The “messenger of satan” was only for the purpose of preventing Paul from exalting himself due to his extraordinary experience. We as normal humans tend to get puffed up at the slightest “success” we experience – just think of how puffed up we would be if we had had an experience that was many multiples higher than anyone else had ever had.
Paul needed the revelations that God gave him as part of his ministry preparation, but he also needed to maintain humility for his ministry. So, God gave Paul the revelations, but also provided via satan a pre-emptive means for staying humble – not out of spite, or meanness, but for Paul’s good and God’s glory. Continue reading
45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
We read in Psalms 5:9 of a narcissist (aka one with insolent pride*), that “there is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself.” And we read in secular sources (and have experienced) that narcissists can say something in one sentence, and contradict themselves in the next sentence (or even in the very same sentence). It seems crazy when they do this – they seem crazy when they do this – and they have no clue that they are even doing it. What’s going on?
Ultimately, as Luke 6:45 indicates, it is our heart that drives our words and actions. Continue reading
One of the questions frequently searched by people that find this blog is, “how do I pray about this situation with the narcissist in my life?”. This would include, “how to pray for the narcissist”, “how to pray for ourselves in the situation”, and “how to pray for God’s intervention”. We have already mentioned David’s Prayer for Justice, and David’s Prayer for Protection. Here is a prayer from David for deliverance. It is important to understand that effective praying has some requirements – we cannot reject God’s ways on the one hand and at the same time expect Him to “jump through hoops for us” on the other hand.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.
14 Let those be ashamed and humiliated together
Who seek my life to destroy it;
Let those be turned back and dishonored
Who delight in my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
Who say to me, “Aha, aha!”
16 Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
Let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“The Lord be magnified!”
17 Since I am afflicted and needy,
Let the Lord be mindful of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
Do not delay, O my God.
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.
[A daily devotional by John Piper originally published by BibleGateway.com. Reprinted under permission]
God Cares for You by John Piper
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6–7)
Why is anxiety about the future a form of pride?
God’s answer would sound something like this:
I — the Lord, your Maker — I am he who comforts you, who promises to take care of you; and those who threaten you are mere men who die. So your fear must mean that you do not trust me — and even though you are not sure that your own resources will take care of you, yet you opt for fragile self-reliance, rather than faith in my future grace. So all your trembling — weak as it is — reveals pride.
The remedy? Turn from self-reliance to God-reliance, and put your faith in the all-sufficient power of future grace.
We see anxiety as a form of pride in 1 Peter 5:6–7. Notice the grammatical connection between the verses. “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God . . . [verse 7] casting all your anxieties on him.” Verse 7 is not a new sentence. It’s a subordinate clause. “Humble yourselves . . . [by]casting all your anxieties on him.”
This means that casting your anxieties Continue reading
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,
Then I could bear it;
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,
Then I could hide myself from him.
13 But it is you, a man my equal,
My companion and my familiar friend;
14 We who had sweet fellowship together
Our most painful encounter with a narcissist will very likely be with someone close to us. And especially with someone we thought was a friend. One reason is that when we expected someone to act like a friend and in exchange were stabbed in the back, it is a painful betrayal. The other reason, as David said in verse 12, is that when we are more entangled in a relationship it is harder to avoid them – bringing us painful reminders more frequently. But as David reminds himself and says to the Lord at the end of Psalm 55
22 Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
23 But You, O God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction;
Men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.
Here is the entire Psalm
When we are dealing with narcissists, it may seem as though no one else “gets” what we are going through. But you are not alone. You may be interested in the search terms which people used in February 2016 to find this blog (please excuse the obvious spelling errors):
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Psalm 39 – I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
2 I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
3 My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;
Then I spoke with my tongue:
4 “Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
5 “Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
6 “Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
7 “And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You.
8 “Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Make me not the reproach of the foolish.
9 “I have become mute, I do not open my mouth,
Because it is You who have done it.
10 “Remove Your plague from me;
Because of the opposition of Your hand I am perishing.
11 “With reproofs You chasten a man for iniquity;
You consume as a moth what is precious to him;
Surely every man is a mere breath. Selah.
12 “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;
Do not be silent at my tears;
For I am a stranger with You,
A sojourner like all my fathers.
13 “Turn Your gaze away from me, that I may [j]smile again
Before I depart and am no more.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails…….
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
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:
- 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
- Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls insolent pride – see here