Proverbs 25:14 – Like clouds and wind without rain Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely..
39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?”41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
The narcissistic Pharisees were in fact blind, even though they claimed that they could see. They were blind to the true condition of their hearts, thinking themselves to be righteous teachers and spiritual leaders, when in fact their hearts were full of evil thoughts, desires, and motives. Jesus later was very direct in pointing out to the Pharisees their blindness. Continue reading
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.
14 Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers,
Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem,
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
And with Sheol we have made a pact.
The overwhelming scourge will not reach us when it passes by,
For we have made falsehood our refuge and we have concealed ourselves with deception.”
16 Therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
The “cornerstone” reference is clearly is clearly referring to Jesus:
Matthew 21:42 – Jesus *said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected,This became the chief corner stone; This came about from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Mark 12:10 – Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone;
Luke 20:17 – But Jesus looked at them and said, “What then is this that is written: ‘The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief corner stone’?
Acts 4:11 – He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone.
Ephesians 2:20 – having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone,
1 Peter 2:6 – For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Therefore, God says in Isaiah 28 that He was sending Jesus in response to the rulers in Jerusalem, whom He called scoffers. The rulers in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ arrival were the religious leaders (Scribes, Pharisees, Chief Priest, etc.) – so God was clearly calling them “scoffers”. And according to Proverbs 21:24, scoffers is one of the names for those filled with insolent pride.
17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles;
18 Or the Lord will see it and be displeased,
And turn His anger away from him.
As we said previously, one key to having peace in the midst of dealing with a difficult narcissist is the understanding that God is a Just Judge, and will, in the end, give to the narcissist everything that they deserve. This trust that God will deal out the proper consequences can give us the freedom to focus on our own inner peace and happiness (which ultimately comes from Him), as well as “doing what is right” in our situation. If we are a genuinely loving person, we will not take delight in what God does to the the narcissist – but we will be at peace with it.
5 ……He who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished.
* Narcissism is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride” – see here
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
We may intuitively understand that enemies of God will ultimately be judged. But, it is very clear that everyone, even His friends will be judged. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
So, whether the narcissist we are dealing with is a total enemy of God, or claims to be a Christian, he will ultimately receive his full consequences from God for his actions toward us. However, while there is a 1 to 1 relationship between actions and consequences, there will be a difference in consequences based on his “standing” when he faces judgment. This watershed is found in Psalm 32:
32 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
2 How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit!
“Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me” in Psalm 40 below describes the twin pillars of protection and/or recovery in times of distress – in this case the distress of evil done by a narcissist* / one with insolent pride. “Lovingkindness” is about emotional support. “Truth” is about understanding what is really going on and changing our actions to match the reality of what is happening.
Of course, there are human / secular versions of these twin pillars. We can get a modest measure of emotional comfort (“lovingkindness”) from friends. And we can search out things which have been written on narcissism to learn traits and tactics of how narcissists operate – including a few suggestions on how to handle the situation (“truth”). But, the secular solutions can only take us so far. Only God can truly comfort us and give us the emotional support we need (see here, here, and here), And only God fully understands what’s going on inside the narcissist, and can give us the full understanding of how to deal with them.
Ultimately it is God who is the true source of both lovingkindness and truth for us.
Psalm 40:1-5 and 11-12
A Psalm of David.
40 I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.
4 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.
5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
- “Narcissism” is the modern colloquial term for what the Bible calls “insolent pride”. See here.
In addition to the fact that nothing is impossible with God, one clue that it is possible for narcissists (those with insolent pride) to change is that God warns them to change. Why would He warn them if change is impossible? God warns scoffers / those with insolent pride to give up their scoffing, accept His reproof and allow Him to transform them through His Spirit.
20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
If the narcissist refuses the wisdom that leads to change, it will ultimately result in calamity for him…..
24 “Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel
And did not want my reproof;
26 I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm
And your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
……and he will eat the fruit of the choice he is making.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
30 “They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
31 “So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
Isaiah 28:14 – Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers, Who rule this people who are in Jerusalem, ………...
Isaiah 28:22 – ……..And now do not carry on as scoffers, Or your fetters will be made stronger; For I have heard from the Lord God of hosts Of decisive destruction on all the earth.
Proverbs 15:11 – Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, How much more the hearts of men!
8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?
9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
10 He who chastens the nations, will He not rebuke,
Even He who teaches man knowledge?
11 The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are a mere breath.
As we said here, one fear that we may have in our dealings with a narcissist (one with insolent pride) is that the narcissist might be “getting away with it”. Holding on to this fear prevents us from releasing things to God and turning our focus to our own heart, actions, and responsibilities – rather than on what the narcissist is doing. Our fear that the narcissist will receive no consequences is based on two separate fears: 1. That God does not see what’s going on, and 2. That even if He does see, He is not going to do anything about it.
Even though a narcissist / one with insolent pride may work very hard to conceal their true goals, motives, and tactics for achieving what they want – and even though they may fool most people most of the time – God fully sees what they’re doing and the evil in their hearts that is driving their actions. And He will not let them get away with it, but will judge them and provide the exact consequences needed.
Letting God do His job frees us to learn and do a much wiser and more peaceful way of dealing with the narcissist.
131 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child rests against his mother,
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
18 If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
.Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit..Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
For those who have been hurt by a narcissist*, a serious amount of comfort and healing are needed. While a certain amount of comfort can be provided by friends, there is a limit to what a friend can provide. Even if your friends have not also been fooled or tainted by the narcissist’s deceptions, they friends may not really understand the damage the narcissist has done. But even more fundamentally, no other human can truly feel everything you’re feeling.
A big question for those who are dealing with a narcissist / those with insolent pride is often “Is there any hope”? They are hoping in the midst of their despair that somehow things will change. While hope can come in different forms, what they often mean by this is “Will this person (narcissist) ever change?”. The short answer is …… it IS possible:
Matthew 19:26 –And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Daniel 4:37 – Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.”.
Another way to view our dealings with narcissists* is as a 3-way relationship. Yes, it mostly feels as though it is “us vs. them”, and that we need to struggle through dealing with these difficult people on our own. And while there is some truth to that, we will not be able to have full success in dealing with them until we understand God’s involvement in the equation (see here and here). So, while we may succeed on our own in applying solid tactics in our dealings with the narcissist – which may definitely help us maintain sanity – we will not be able to achieve the full level of “victory” in our lives that is possible without bringing God into the equation.
The following diagram illustrates the 4 relationship dynamics involved in our dealing with narcissists:
- Us with the narcissist
- God with the narcissist
- God with us
94 O Lord, God of vengeance,
God of vengeance, shine forth!
2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth,
Render recompense to the proud.
3 How long shall the wicked, O Lord,
How long shall the wicked exult?
4 They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly;
All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.
5 They crush Your people, O Lord,
And afflict Your heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the [d]stranger
And murder the orphans.
7 They have said, “The Lord does not see,
Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”
8 Pay heed, you senseless among the people;
And when will you understand, stupid ones?
9 He who planted the ear, does He not hear?
He who formed the eye, does He not see?
.Romans 14:12 – So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God..1 Peter 4:5 – but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead..Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap..Hebrews 10:30 – For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”.