As a Christian I’m slowly learning that my greatest temptation isn’t giving into sexual sin, but indulging in self-pity.
This is mostly true because the first impure thought is attacked with Scripture, but feeling sorry for myself is permitted.
John Piper in his book “Brothers we are not professionals” refers to the fact that many of us “fight against” sexual impurity, but not self-pity
What I realized was that I was not applying any of this same gospel vigilance—what Peter O’Brien calls “continuous, sustained, strenuous effort”—against my most besetting sins. I was strangely passive, victim-like. I had the unarticulated sense (mistakenly) that these sins (unlike sexual lust) should be defeated more spontaneously
Of course feeling sorry for yourself cannot disqualify someone from ministry (in most cases) or destroy marriages. However it can develop a habit of bitterness when we don’t get our way.
a habit that definitely affects our relationship with others.
Piper encourages his readers to attack feelings of self-pity the same way they would lust, and gives a helpful example of when a granddaughter chose to watch a cartoon instead of spending time with him.
Now at that moment the temptation for anger, self-pity, blaming, and sullenness was as dangerous to my soul as a sexual temptation. So I immediately said, “No!” to the rising temptations and quietly went upstairs without any flair of woundedness or body language of sullenness. In my study I waged war. I turned my mind and heart toward the promises of God, and the surety of the cross, and love of the Father, and the wealth of my inheritance, and the blessings of that day, and the patience of Christ. And I held them there. I beat down the anger and self-pity and blaming and sullenness with the blood-bought promises of God. (emphasis added)
Reading that chapter reminded me how an incredibly foolish mistake led to 24 hours of self-pity.
The Lord has challenged me since then to attack the first thought of self-pity just as if it was a thought of sexual impurity…and with His help have begun to achieve victory.
Last week after no children came to Bible Club (again!) I started walking around Barrouaillie feeling sorry for myself. After all it wasn’t fair for me to create these lessons and have kids just not come! Standing beside the post-office I was tempted to ask God why He was being so cruel to me, but by God’s grace saw my self-pity as sin, and confessed the selfishness to God.
I’m not perfect (nobody is) but I’m grateful for the reminder of John Piper. And now the idea of feeling sorry for myself as well as impurity is met with a loud definite “no!”