The Plague of Self-Pity
Today's lesson comes from the pen of Dub McClish. I have expanded his good work in many places, but the majority of the thoughts below are his.

Philippians 2:14-16 reads - "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life."

It is possible for one to be too hard on himself, unnecessarily reproaching and condemning himself. However, it is also possible to be too easy on oneself. This often takes the form of self-pity. People who are constantly dripping with self-sympathy are at the same time to be pitied and shunned. They not only ruin life for themselves, but they spoil it for others upon whom they descend with their tales of woe (with their grumbling and complaining), if they are allowed to do so. Are you struggling under a plague of self-pity? If so, consider the following facts about it and make changes for the better.

Self-pity is a mark of immaturity. Babies are immature in every way. They are notoriously self-sympathetic. If they are hungry or uncomfortable, it matters not to them that it is 2 AM. In their self-pity they holler till somebody comes. In their immature state, they do not give a thought to the fact that mother and father need their rest for the coming day. In contrast, a person who is mature has learned to take some lumps, suffer some discomfort, and walk through some valleys, without becoming an embittered, long-faced complainer. Consider these words about maturity from Peter's pen - "For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God...But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled'" (I Peter 2:20; 3:14).

Self-pity makes one insensitive to others. If a person is constantly focusing only on his own troubles and problems, he can hardly be understanding and sympathetic toward others. Such a person is constantly seeking sympathy and murmuring about being neglected and having no one who loves them or cares for them. "I have more problems than anyone else," they wail. But how do they know this? In reality, they do not know or care about the suffering of others. Their own self-pity makes them insensitive to others. Instead, we should strive to fulfill Philippians 2:3,4 - "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."

Self-pity makes one miserable. None are more unhappy on this earth than those who are completely wrapped up in themselves. The more they think only of themselves the worse it makes them feel, and the worse they feel the more they pity themselves! The best thing they could do is to get up and go out, looking for someone they can help in some way. This will accomplish good in two ways: (1) They won't be fixated upon themselves during that time, and (2) They will be doing something productive with their time (sitting home and choosing to be miserable is self-destructive).

Self-pity robs one of friends. The chronic self-pitier will always be a grouchy, pessimistic fusser who has forgotten how to talk without a certain whine in his voice. Who likes to be around that sort of person? Only one who is warped would seek out a grumbler to associate with. Thus, friends are naturally sparse for such a one.

Self-pity can make one physically and emotionally ill. The one who pities himself needs to grow up. If he doesn't, he will harm both his body and mind in time. As Paul declared in I Corinthians 14:20 - "Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature." Much sickness in our world is avoidable for those with a healthy attitude and proper state of mind. Self-pity does much to undercut one's health physically and emotionally.

Self-pity, like worrying, is simply not productive and must be avoided.