Is life getting to be more than you can handle?  Feeling sorry for yourself? Human beings are prone to self-pity. We are born self-centered, with a powerful drive to protect our egos and our “rights.” When we decide that life has not treated us right and how we want to be treated, self-pity is the result. Self-pity causes us to sulk and obsess over our hurts, real or perceived. At the heart of self-pity is a disagreement with God over how life—and He—has treated us.

The biggest clue that self-pity is not of God is the word self. Any time we are focused on ourselves, other than for self-examination leading to repentance (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5), we are in the territory of the flesh. Our sinful flesh is the enemy of the Spirit (Romans 8:7).

The self-sins do not die easily. They are more difficult to detect than obvious sins, such as immorality and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19–20), because we often consider them friends. Self-confidence, self-seeking, self-admiration, self-indulgence, self-absorption, and self-love are all symptoms of a fleshly nature that has not yet been fully surrendered to Jesus.

A prime example of self-pity is found in an episode of King Ahab’s wicked life. Ahab coveted a vineyard belonging to Naboth and wanted to buy it; when Naboth refused to sell, “Ahab went home, sullen and angry. He went to bed sulking and refused to eat” (1 Kings 21:4). Old Ahab had an evil wife, Jezebel.  She set in motion a plan to have Naboth murdered (1 Kings 21:15–16). Self-pity is never good.

When we indulge in self-pity, we have elevated our importance in our own eyes. Romans 12:3 says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” We are thinking too highly of ourselves when we allow life’s hurts and injustices to dictate our emotional state. Bitterness can quickly override the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that should be dominating the life of every believer.

Rejecting the impulse to feel sorry for ourselves is not easy. Life provides many opportunities to experience rejection, injustice, and the cruelty of man. We can look at every opportunity to indulge in self-pity as a chance to defeat that old nature. We can choose instead to trust that God “will work everything for the good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Self-pity got you down, today?  Let’s talk, Russ Hobbs Ministries. E-mail

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