Is it possible to love a narcissist while at the same time being absolutely devastated by the path they have chosen including the possible impact on you? When I say “love”, I am not referring to the romantic notion, but the most core definition of love – God’s type of love. To answer this, let’s look at two examples in the Bible.
Absalom was a narcissist and tried to overthrow his father David to become king of Israel. Absalom’s move was part of God’s discipline of David for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), while God ultimately punished Absalom for his insolent pride and rebellion.
David clearly understood that Absalom had become his enemy, described in Psalm 3 “A Psalm of David when he fled from his son Absalom”,
Lord, how my enemies have increased!
Many are rising up against me.
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
But You, Lord, are a shield around me,
My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
I was crying out to the Lord with my voice,
And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah
l lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.
Arise, Lord; save me, my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the [e]cheek;
You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Salvation belongs to the Lord;
May Your blessing be upon Your people!
But what was David’s response? He first told his military that, in spite of the fact that Absalom was trying to overthrow (and possibly kill) him, they should deal gently with him,
But the king commanded Joab, Abishai, and Ittai, saying, “Deal gently with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the people heard when the king commanded all the commanders regarding Absalom.
2 Samuel 18:5
and when Absalom was killed….
Then the king trembled and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And this is what he said as he walked: “My son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you, Absalom, my son, my son!”
2 Samuel 18:33
How could this be? David’s lament for Absalom was so obvious that his people complained that David would have rather them die than Absalom (2 Samuel 19).
A second example is found in Matthew 23. Jesus had just finished a “truth encounter” with the narcissistic Pharisees, clearly and bluntly outlining to them various aspects of their insolently proud hypocrisy.
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who have been sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
David was a “man after God’s heart”, and Jesus was God Himself. Both showed us God’s heart for insolently proud people walking in rebellion against Him. While justice will (and should) occur, God – as illustrated by both David and Jesus – still has an underlying heart of love and care for those insolently proud recipients of that justice. He deeply mourns their outcome.
The implications for us in dealing with the narcissists in our lives are:
- Yes, we can deal with narcissists wisely and Biblically, avoiding them when appropriate and placing boundaries and judgments when appropriate. We can also ask God to deal with them and humble them
- But at the same time, we can mourn their insolent pride – not just for what it does to us, but more importantly what it does to them. They are blinded and lost, and will receive the consequences. While we may feel relief at their judgment, grieve it at the same time.
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart rejoice when he stumbles,
Otherwise, the Lord will see and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.
Do not get upset because of evildoers
Or be envious of the wicked;
For there will be no future for the evil person;
The lamp of the wicked will be put out.