By Basilea Schlink
Everything that is an enemy of love is sin. Indeed, the sin against love is the greatest sin, because love is the greatest achievement of Jesus' redemption.
Self-pity is one of the sins against love. Having compassion for others is an attribute of love. But when we pity ourselves, we only love ourselves, not others. Our love is on the wrong track; it has a false object. Although our love should really belong to our neighbours, we withdraw it from them and become guilty of withholding love from them. Self-pity belongs to the "ego-illnesses". We pamper our egos, in which this sin sits; yet this sin will have to die if the new man is to arise.
This is especially evident during times when God chastens and judges us. During such times we often pity ourselves. It is especially dangerous, because we usually do not recognize it as a sin and do not realize that our self-pity strengthens our "old man". It places us in the enemy's hand and deprives us of the possibility of overcoming in our fight against sin.
The root of self-pity is our reluctance to admit that we are sinners, who need to be chastened. If we recognized our sins and mistakes, we would be grateful when God begins to attack them, when He judges and chastens us, even though it might hurt. Instead of pitying ourselves and complaining, we would only find that what we have to suffer in the way of chastening is much too little.
Those who pity themselves do not have the right attitude towards sin. Although they do not realize it, they cannot admit their sin. When they get into trouble, they accuse God instead of themselves and thus they set up a barrier against God, they even call down His wrath upon themselves and forfeit their heavenly glory. Those who pity themselves do not act according to the words of Scripture, "Strive . . . for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Heb. 12: 14).
They are not consumed by the desire to attain holiness and see Jesus. Rather, they are fascinated by their own egos. When they are being chastened and judged by God, they complain that things are not going well with them. That makes them incapable of seeing that it is the chastening that will help them "share his holiness" (Heb. 12: 10). Nor can they see that Satan is standing behind them, laughing scornfully when they complain and pity themselves. For now he has attained his goal, they have fallen prey to an idol, their own egos. Satan knows that self-pity furthers every other sin and therefore it is a triumph for him.
Yes, with our self-pity we are reacting just the opposite of how the Holy Scriptures say we should act. We should judge ourselves. That means that we are supposed to judge ourselves especially severely when God judges and chastens us. The Apostle Paul writes, "But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world" (1 Cor. 11 : 31, 32).
The Holy Scriptures are challenging us to take a stand against our "old man", to condemn it with its sin so that God does not have to do this one day. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10: 31), for God, the judge, is a consuming Fire. That is why our goal must always be to let ourselves be judged for our egoistic sins like self-pity. We must condemn ourselves so that the judgment of God, His severe punishment, will not strike us in eternity.
We must renounce our self-pity with complete resoluteness. We cannot afford to give any room in our hearts to self-pity, which nourishes many other sins.
At the very first thought of self-pity that comes to us, we must call upon the blood of the Lamb and say aloud, or to ourselves:
I do not want to have anything more to do with
self-pity; I am a sinner and need this judgment and
chastening. I am receiving a lenient punishment for
what my deeds are really worth.
For the sake of Your redemption, Jesus, I will not
let You go unless You change my self-pity into compassion
for others. I want to condemn my self-pity
ever anew, so that You will not have to judge me for
it one day.
Then Jesus will have compassion on us; then He will finish His work of education in us and take us out of this school again at His timing. When we take measures against our self-pity without sparing ourselves, God the Father will spare us and lovingly treat us like His own Son.
Self-pity and making excuses are the soil that
nourishes our sin. Whoever wants to be set free from
his sin must pull it out of this soil no matter how
high the price.