Every person is born self-centered and is prone to practice self-pity. When we think life has not treated us as we deserve, self-pity is the result. It leads to complaints, murmuring, and bitterness. The biggest clue that self-pity is not of God is the word self.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV)
God’s love is all about putting others first. Because we are selfish by nature, it takes a real effort and a lot of practice to lay aside our personal desires to serve others first. We live in a time where self-satisfaction and instant gratification is celebrated. This is not God’s way. We are not to be “lovers of self.”
“Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” 1 Corinthians 10:24 (NKJV)
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)
When we grumble about our situation we are forgetting God’s provisions and blessings. Murmuring affects our attitude. Instead of cultivating a spirit of thankfulness, self-pity propagates discontent. We are called to have thankful hearts but when our eyes are on unfulfilled desires we tend to wallow in sinful dissatisfaction and envy. Complaining poisons our attitude toward God and breeds negativity. Complaining is the exact opposite of trusting God and being appreciative.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NKJV)
Although God cares about our wants and desires, it isn’t one of His top priority. Instead, He cares about conforming us into the image of His son, Jesus. This means chipping away at our old man through the process of sanctification. God wants us to seek His will and accept His plan for our lives, even if that means we don’t find the perfect job, spouse, wealth, or even good health.
Feeling sorry for ourselves when we do not get what we want is akin to a child throwing a temper tantrum. Self-pity is a sure sign that our eyes are fixed on self and not the eternal. God’s timing is perfect and He wants the very best for us. So, if God tells us the answer is NO, it is for our benefit.
The self-sins are not easily overcome because the world accepts them. They are more difficult to detect than obvious sins, such as immorality and drunkenness. 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.
It was a self-sin that brought Samson down and a self-sin that caused the rich young ruler to turn away from Jesus (Matthew 19:21-22). The Israelites were in a constant state of self-pity after God sent Moses to lead them out of Egyptian captivity. They forgot the blessing of freedom and complained about not having fish, vegetables, and spices.
“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!’” Numbers 11:4-6 (NKJV)
An ungrateful heart will get us no further down the road than a thankful one. In fact, a journey is much more pleasant if it is filled with songs of thanks and praise. Self-pity makes for a bumpy road and an unpleasant journey. Trusting that God has our back is the best attitude to wear in daily life. We may be prone to complain and practice self-pity but it does not have to conquer us. We can recognize our bad habit and take up a new attitude. After all, we are new creations in Christ Jesus. That is something to be thankful for and a thankful heart is not a heart of discontent.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV)