Self-Pity

Josh Greiner July 30, 2017 1 Kings 19:1-18
Outline

1 Kings 16:30 - Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

1 Kings 16:31 - It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.

1 Kings 17:1 - Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

1 Kings 18:19 - Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.

1 Kings 18:27 - It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”

1 Kings 18:33-35 - Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.

1 Kings 18:38 - Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

6 action steps to being freed from self-pity

I. Examine the Fruit of Self-Pity

Definition: A combination of despair and pride that results in a sinful disposition toward self, others, and God. It is the result of a person who has not obtained the desires of the heart, choosing then to turn inward in their rebellion; not outward and upward.

A. It has an inflated view of self

1 Kings 19:10 - “I have been very zealous for the LORD”

Isaiah 6:5 - Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

B. It has a warped view of reality

1 Kings 19:10 - I alone am left and they seek my life to take it away.

1 Kings 18:13 - Has it not been told to my master what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, that I hid a hundred prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water?

C. It acts in a way that is not logical

1 Kings 19:4 - he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

D. It wonders who will take care of me? Who will Love me?

1 Kings 18:12 - It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.

1 Kings 18:45-46 - In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.

E. It is only focused on self, not others

1. It finds pleasure in nursing the failures and past hurts of others

2. It is blind to the cares and concerns of others

3. It judges the motives and actions of others without facts

4. It rejects the overtures of others that seek to show love

II. Trust in God's plan

1 Kings 19:18 - Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.

2 Kings 1:10 - Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

Romans 8:31-32 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

III. Focus on Loving God and Others

1 Peter 4:8 - Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

IV. Give Thanks in Everything

1 Thessalonians 5:18 - …in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

V. Draw Near to God

James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...

Hebrews 10:22 - …let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

VI. Confess to Others

Hebrews 10:25 - …but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

When you have young children like me you end up watching cartoons with them. It’s always interesting what shows they choose to watch. In the days of Google Play, Chromecast, Netflix, and much more, watching cartoons is not as mundane as turning the television to the cartoon channel and accepting whatever was put before you. Now you have the option, or responsibility to find the best show to watch.

Having a boy and a girl can sometime lead to issues as well. Winston is all for the action cartoons, construction cartoons and so forth. My daughter Cecilia is up for those sometimes, but other times she wants maybe things that are not so intense. So sometimes we need to compromise. Of course, cartoons are not nearly as fun by yourself, you want Daddy to watch with you and when it’s a show that we are not familiar with I plan to be there too.

Sometimes we don’t look to modern cartoons but the good old ones. Winston loves Chip-and Dale. He giggles at all their silly antics as Donald Duck or whomever is chasing them. He just bursts out in a giggle when Chip outsmarts.

One that we don’t watch too much, but is a classic that we all know is The Adventures of Whinny the Pooh. Everyone has watched Whiney the Pooh at some point in their life. The show has actually lived on in a modern new cartoon that is all about Christopher Robin doing more investigations. One of the most unique of all the characters in Whiney the Pooh is Eor the Donkey.

 Eor is of course known for one thing…being down. Everything from what he says to how he says it casts a shadow on everyone else’s rather bright day. The official Disney page says, “Gloomy Eeyore is not a fan of much, other than eating thistles…” No matter what is going on, Eor finds a way to, in his own heart, bring it down.

While we are not here to do a counseling session at distance, to anyone it is clear, Eor is a person that suffers from self-pity. He is always sad about something that has happened, or will happen to him, and the cloud just never seems to lift. For a children’s cartoon he is certainly a unique addition to any cast, but I think that for all of us, we can relate.

There have been times for everyone here when we were just down in the dumps and nothing seemed to go right. Nothing mattered and we were so focused on all these negatives that nothing mattered. But unlike Eor, we have hope. We don’t have to be trapped in an endless cycle of decrying how bad life is and how nothing works out for our good, unlike him we have the good news.

For our time today I would like us to look at the life of Elijah the prophet and on major incident that defined his life. We are this Sunday continuing our series on Handling Life’s Problems as part of our annual theme of In Christ Alone. Today I would like for us to examine the topic of Self-Pity. Each of us have suffered from this at some point. For others we will gravity to this more often, but pitying one’s self is a common human struggle and anyone from the most zealous God-loving, rock-solid, powerful men of God, to the new believer can suffer from this ailment.

So turn with me if you will to 1 Kings 19. This is on page ___________ .

Context Matters for our passage today, and so I want to make sure that everyone knows where we are at in the history of Israel as we study this passage.

Around 1,000 BC (3,000 years ago) David was king in Israel. After David reigned his Son took his thrown. Instead of listening to some of the advisors that his Dad had, who happened to be a little bit older than him, he chose to listen to his friends and because he did that the entire Kingdom split into two nations. So young guys, make sure you listen to Old guys J

After the split Israel ran away from worship God, and Judah eventually followed. After the split, there are 7 kings of Israel before we get to King Ahab. Here is what the author says about King Ahab.

1 Kings 16:30 30Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.

That is quite the indictment. Things are getting worse and worse for Israel and its Kings are straying further and further from God. It actually goes so bad, that the author says it wasn’t even a big deal anymore for the evil things that he did.

1 Kings 16:31 31It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.

So in order to get the attention of the King and the nation of Israel God sends a prophet—Elijah. He sends him to prophecy a drought

1 Kings 17:1 1Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

Eventually, after the drought had gone on for three years Elijah is told in 18:1 to go to King Ahab and confront him again. In that meeting Elijah challenges Ahab and the prophets of Baal

1 Kings 18:19 19Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.

And he says, look we are going to have two alters here, one for me and one for you. We are going to call on our God to consume the offering from Heaven. You guys can go first. And so they dance and they call out to Baal for a long time and nothing happens. And so.

1 Kings 18:27 27It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”

Of course nothing happened. So at midday Elijah takes over. He then does something even crazier than the other guys.

1 Kings 18:33–35 33Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. 34And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water.

Then he prays and asks God to consume the offering and bamm, it’s all gone. You got to love the detail of what happens here

1 Kings 18:38 38Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

The dust and stones were consumed. It has got to get pretty hot for that to happen.

In a moment of exuberance, the Israelites there begin to worship God and Elijah orders the prophets of Baal to be killed and sure enough, the rains return.

That is the context for our story here today…. [Read 1 Kings. 19:1-18]

With the time we have remaining I would like us to Consider today: Ditching the Party: 6 Action Steps to being freed from the pity party.

The first thing then that we are going to have to do is

I.             Examine the Fruit of Self-Pity

We need to know what this problem looks like, what are the ins and the outs, how is it that act toward our self, God and others before we can really begin to put this off. So here is the working definition that I would like for us to use.

Def: A combination of despair and pride that results in a sinful disposition toward self, others and God. It is the result of a person who has not obtained the desires of the heart, choosing then to turn inward in their rebellion; not outward and upward.

I want you to just soak that up for a moment and see how that strikes you. Each one of those words was carefully chosen for the topic, and each of them matters for what we are talking about today.

[Repeat the definition again, slowly]

You might say great, that is the problem but why does it matter. Who cares if I am a man who is full of self-pity? And the answer is found in that definition. You can see the fruit of self-pity, but in there is a heart that is proud, lacks hope in God, doesn’t trust him, and looks to love himself and not others.

Simply put, the person who is full of self-pity can’t fulfill the mission that God has given. When you are so consumed with self-love, and lamenting that no one loves you or care for you—then you are going to miss why God has you here. So then…

Let’s then take a moment to break that down and see that here in our passage and in our lives. Here are just some of the things that reside in the heart when we look at ourselves…

  1. It has an inflated view of self

1 Ki. 19:10, "I have been very zealous for the LORD"

Now there is no doubt that Elijah has loved the Lord, but as he is standing there before the God who created the universe, here he is defending himself. That isn’t normal friends. What happened when Isaiah stood before the Lord?

Isaiah 6:5 5Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

There is a stark contrast to how Elijah responds and Isaiah. Elijah thinks that he has done it all right, he has not been wrong.

I think that we have all been there before. We look around and think, “I’m the one who gets it here.” I’m the one who is right. Look at them, they are the ones who are wrong, not me. They don’t get it like I do. If they would only get it like I do. That view leads down that path of Self-Pity.

Second

  1. It has a warped view of reality.

Notice in his complaint to God Elijah lies.

1 Ki. 19:10, "I alone am left and they seek my life to take it away."

Right before his time with Ahab, Elijah learned that another man had saved at least 100 prophets of the Lord,

1 Kings 18:13 13Has it not been told to my master what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, that I hid a hundred prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water?

So here is the reality. Whether Elijah willing chose to distort reality or just couldn’t hear the truth, the reality is his view of being ‘THE ONLY ONE’ was just not accurate. He had heard it before and he had even sent away his servant before going into the desert.

Self-Pity distorts reality. Things are not what they seem. But when we turn our gaze inward, instead of upward and outward, we tend to not see things for reality.

We have all heard of seeing the world through rose colored glasses before right? The idea is that you just see the world in a positive light. Everything is looks good. Of course if I did have rose colored glasses, the real state of things would not be accurate.

With self-pity, everything gets viewed through those lenses and it looks bad. Instead of seeing the world in a positive light, you see it through the lens of self-pity and it distorts in a bad way the view of reality.

Here we see that his view of reality is so wrong that he actually thinks God is wrong. He thinks that it is better for him to be dead, then for him to be alive. He tells God that God’s plan, the one where he stays on earth and does ministry, is not the right plan.

Next we see from our text that

  1. It acts in a way that is not logical

Here we have a man who learns that the Queen wants to kill him because he had all her prophets killed. Not a surprising response, and based on other stories we know that she is legitimate. When Ahab wanted a vineyard, she had the owner of the vineyard killed.

So Elijah runs away, but when he gets away, when he gets to safety, when there are no troops, nothing around him at all…. HE ASKS GOD TO DIE! That is ridiculous. We have no idea how he found his way to safety, but no doubt God had a hand in that. Surely God protected him and watched over him. But instead of responding with thanks and a renewed sense of mission, he asks for Death.

1 Kings 19:4 he requested for himself that he might die, and said, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

 

Elijah has become some consumed with himself, that he isn’t making sense.

If you consider the times when you threw yourself a pity-party, you probably can see how you were not logical. You probably said, thought and did things that didn’t make sense looking back. That isn’t to say you were insane, sin always has a logic—a way of convincing you that what you are doing is right—but rather when measured against the outside world, your actions made no sense.

Rather than turning to God and asking for guidance, deliverance, and hope, he just wants to die. He wanted to live, so he ran from Jezebel, now he wants to die.

  1. It wonders who will take care of me? Who will Love me?

While Elijah doesn’t specifically declare this in the text, I think that the implication in there. What is remarkable, at least from our perspective is, that after watching God do something so amazing…consumer even the rock…that he fears a small little Queen who just had all her prophets slaughtered.

Nevertheless, he is not certain that the Lord will take care of him. He believes that he has to take things into his own hands and he is not happy about it. We have all been there. No matter if you have struggled with self-pity or not—we all have wondered, “Will God take care of me?”

It is the lie that Satan has been whispering since the beginning. You can’t trust that God fellow. He isn’t going to take care of you. He is only looking out for him. So watch out, he will get you…you need to look out for you.

We could probably say a lot more about what the person who is self-pitting is thinking but let’s also look at their view of God and others…

Here Elijah had so many examples of how God had taken care of him. We didn’t read them all in our overview, so feel free to go back and read the entire story. Of course we saw God take care of Elijah during the drought by sending him to the Widow and giving her a miracle through him to support them.

God has provided him with supernatural protection from Ahab which led Obadiah to say,

1 Kings 18:12 12“It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.

God had been taking care of Elijah so much that Obadiah actually believed that God would just physically pick up Elijah and move him in order to keep him safe. Just think about that in terms of provision. God picked him up and moved him!

Of course God didn’t always have to do that because even if someone caught up with him physically God would even supernaturally empower him to run faster than any human ever…

1 Kings 18:45–46 45In a little while the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.

He outran a horse in a chariot! God took care of him.

Then of course he didn’t bring food with him on the journey into the desert where he wanted to die, so God sent an angel to literally cook for him.

I could keep going, but the point is clear—Elijah could not see that at each turn God provided for him.

  1. It is only focused on self, not others

Let’s say for a moment that it was true that Elijah was the only one (remember that is his narrative not mine), but for the sake of the argument it was true.

Let’s say you are the only Christian at work, in your home, in your family, in your friend group whatever it is. Is the response that God is looking for self-pity? Is he looking for your to be dejected over the fact that you are the only one? Does he want you to give up and say, “It’s just me, what can I do?”

Of course not. He wants you to be motived by his love and faithfulness to you to get out there and love those that he has placed around you. He wanted Elijah to get out there and make his name great.

So if you find yourself, “alone” then God isn’t thinking that you need to focus on you. He is saying, you need to get focused on others. Because here is the problem, you are focused on you then self-pity comes out, and here is what it does.

    1. It finds pleasure in nursing the failures and past hurts of others
    2. It is blind to the cares and concerns of others.
    3. It judges the motives and actions of others without facts
    4. It rejects the overtures of others that seek to show love

 

So friend, let me encourage you today to see the fruit of self-pity. To see that It has an inflated view of self, that It has a warped view of reality. It acts in a way that is not logical. It wonders who will take care of me? Who will Love me? And It is only focused on self, not others.

Bearing this kind of Fruit is not going to be good. It is going to leave you alone, driving away the people in your life that God has placed you near to minister to (and you could see that clearly as Elijah literally left his servant) and it will ultimately drive you away from God.

Now, let’s look at what it is that God wants us to put in the place of self-pity and what steps he calls us to as we seek to live out his will for our lives.

II.            Trust in God's plan

In all of us there is a heart that doubt’s God’s good plan. We think we know better or we are not sure if his plan is good. We get sucked into believing that God is not all good or all powerful. He might be one or the other, but not both. But that is not true.

God had made a plan for Elijah and he had also made sure that there was at least 7,000 who had not worshiped Baal.

1 Kings 19:18 Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

 

We see it here in the Elijah story. He could not see that the attempt on his life was all part of God’s plan not only for the kingdom of Israel, but also for Elijah’s life. Who knows what God could have done in that moment. We had already seen in his life that God had protected him and later God would provide when the King sent some soldiers to bring Elijah.

2 Kings 1:10 Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.

That happened a few times as well. The point being for Elijah and for us, when we find ourselves in self-pity, when we see that things are not going the way we want or desire, then we need to turn and trust in God—refreshing ourselves with powerful truth.

So fellow believer, if you are struggling to believe that God is going to take care of you, then refresh yourself with these truths.

Romans 8:31–32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Do you see how powerful those words are? God gave you the most beautiful, valuable, awesome thing in the entire world, why would he not provide for you here?

Imagine for a moment that I was going to pay for my children’s tuition for school, books, housing, food, car, etc…everything. But then, he needed $5 to buy pens so he could take his entrance exams. Who really thinks I would say, “I’ve given too much…you are on your own.” And because of that decision he would never go to college?

That is crazy, yet that is how we act. We see that God has given to all of us his Son. For those who have trusted, and I hope you have, in his Son’s gift, he has given us the most valuable thing and the argument to any problem that we have is that he will not stop giving, but he will keep on giving—more and more.

So trust that God will take care of you. If you are pitying, God will take care of you.

III.          Focus on Loving God and Others

The entire problem of self-pity is that it is focused on loving you. You are seeking to do what only what God and others can do. God never calls for you to love yourself, but to love others. He calls for you to get the focus off of yourself and on them.

Take for example this verse that will help you remember to do this, especially when someone has wronged you.

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

So if you find yourself wondering who is going to care for you, then stop that. Start thinking to yourself, how can I love others. What is remarkable about this is, not only will your self-pity go away, but you will find yourself being loved by others. That’s not the goal, but you will see it to be true.

After you have sought to love others and put your trust into God, then you should

IV.          Give Thanks in Everything.

If you are loving God, serving others, it will not be hard to cultivate and express a heart that is full of thankfulness.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

A heart that is thankful will be a heart that is not worried about itself. It will not despair when things don’t go the way it wants to, because it will be thankful for whatever happened. It will not look around wondering what it could get differently.

If you find yourself as a person who tends to go toward self-pity pretty easy, can I encourage you to perhaps put a lot of work right here. What are some things that you are thankful for? Do you have a regular list that you use?

For example, one of the things that I do in my life is I have a regular list of things that I need to be giving thanks for. For many of us it can be easy to not give thanks for the cross each morning. We can take it for granted and just pass by that awesome gift. So I try to take time each morning in my quite time to give thanks for the cross and spend time meditating on that gift. I have other things as well such as my family, my job and ministry, my children, the physical provision, friends, etc.

So if you are a person that struggles with self-pity then can I encourage you to write up a list of things you are thankful for (and you might need to really work on it and even get some help on it) and then to massage those truths into your heart?

Don’t go about life without rejoicing and giving thanks for what God has done. By giving thanks, it will be a cure for your pity.

Next, and I think that I could have started with this since it is so obvious…

V.           Draw Near to God.

So often when we are struggling with self-pity we run from everyone. A friend of mine who struggles with this uses the analogy of jumping of the boat (a reference to the Jonah story). When struggling with self-pity he wants to be alone. He doesn’t want anyone around him he doesn’t want to be near friends or God. There is a certain amount of pleasure that comes from being alone.

You can see that with Elijah. He sent away his servant. He wanted to be alone. That is not good. You might be struggling with self-pity, if you are drawn near to God and he will refresh you.

Scripture is clear

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you...

Or late he says

Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

God wants you to draw near to him, and he is sympathetic in your need, he will not turn you away.

Finally, and we could add more

VI.          Confess to Others

If you are the type of person who struggles with self-pity, then you need to bring that out to your friends. So often this can be an inward sinful disposition that is not easy for others to see.

Hebrews 10:25, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

 I would encourage you to be sharing this trait with your spouse, accountability partner, small group, whomever, but someone needs to be walking with you through this and reminding you of truth.

So often we can be blinded by our own hears and not seeing what is right.

By drawing near and confessing to others they can help us really navigate the trials of life and pointing us to our Heavenly Father.

 

So Brothers and Sisters, let’s not be like Eor…always sulking and thinking that the world is going to come crashing down.

Let’s examine the fruit of self-pity, and put it off by trusting in God, by cultivating a heart of thanksgiving, focusing on loving God and others, and brining this struggle into the light.

Josh Greiner

BA - Political Science, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary
Th.M. - Biblical Counseling, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Josh is married to Shana and has three children: Winston, Cecilia, and Lorelai.  Josh oversees the community ministries and centers at Faith Church as well as serves as a service pastor at Faith Church West. He is an ACBC Certified counselor and teaches in Faith’s Biblical Counseling Center. He also sits on the Board of Directors for Faith Community Development Corporation. 

Read Josh Greiner's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Greiner to Faith Church.