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The sin of self-pity

Caleb Duncan

This past year, I’ve noticed several situations where I’ve said ”Woe is me,” a little bit too much. Instead of embracing my situation, praying through it, and giving it to God, I’ve done something else. I’ve wallowed in it, complained about it, and tried to manage it myself. Because of a variety of situations, maybe you’ve done the same. 

Today, our culture seems to celebrate a victim-hood mentality. And things that would typically cripple you can become a crutch that you lean on. Instead of dealing with our pain, we typically say the following things: “I can’t believe this happened to me.” “I don’t deserve this!” Or the cry of “Poor me!!!” 

The extent to this self-pity leads to a place of dark depression and the questioning of ones’ existence. We all have struggles that we face and many have been through much turmoil this past year. Self-pity is a way of coping with stress and unfortunate situations. 



But there is a silent problem with self-pity. And if you’re not careful, it can totally ruin your outlook on life! Here is the truth about self-pity: it is a pitiful expression of the most dangerous sin: pride. Self-pity secretly tells you that you deserve love and affection from others when you are dealing with hardship. 

Self-pity is a negative response to a feeling of unfairness, especially in relationships. At the root of self-pity is that we assess our circumstances as though God does not love and care for us. So you see, self-pity is a lack of trust in God, a questioning of God’s character, a desire to be approved by others, and a whimper of misery in our own hearts. 

The destruction of self-pity will wreak havoc in your mind and life. It will cause a deep seed of bitterness to grow in your heart. Then, after it takes root and begins to grow, it will cause an unholy angst towards others, even other believers or church members you gather with. Self-pity can lead to a place where your ready to walk away from faith, because you think, “If God is real, how can he allow this to happen…to me?” 

If you struggle with the dangerous sin of self-pity, there is a gospel-centered answer for you. My dear friend, the cross of Jesus Christ is our example. On the cross, Jesus took pity. Not on himself, but on those who were crucifying him. He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

While we have a tendency to wallow in our sadness, the bible says that we can have an underlying joy in our salvation. The peace of God can rule in our hearts and defeat the attitude of pity in our lives. We need only to look to God, rest in God, and give it over to God. One person who did this very well was the apostle Paul, and he wrote about it, for our sake. Here is what he says:

Philippians 3:12-15, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” 

Caleb Duncan is the Director for the West Florida Baptist Association in Chipley and holds an M.A. in Ethics, Theology, and Culture from Southeastern Seminary. Email him at WfbaDom@outlook.com or follow his Twitter @calebtduncan.



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