Joyce Meyer - Self-Pity
Tonight we're gonna talk about self-pity. Now we've been talking about balance and how we don't want things to get out of balance so we should have pity for other people that are hurting. Pity, which is compassion, true godly pity, which is compassion, is always out towards someone else that's hurting. The Bible says that Jesus was moved with sympathy, pity, and compassion and then he would go and help people. Well, if we can be moved with compassion toward others and keep our mind off of what we don't have, then we're gonna spend a lot less time turning what should be going outward inward in on ourselves.
In Galatians chapter 5 where we're gonna begin, we have a list of different things that the Bible calls sin. Well, we'll start in verse 19, "Now the doings and the (practices) of the flesh are clear and (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy..." see jealousy, for example, that's probably something that we don't stand against like we should, not like we might stand against sorcery or some other so-called biggie but yet they're right here on the same list. "Anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, and heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God".
Now lest somebody get afraid that doesn't mean if you ever lose your temper, you're not gonna go to heaven, but it means if we're given over to these sins, then there's something wrong somewhere and we need to let God show us truth and be set free. This is not the way that a believer is supposed to live. And so as God was dealing with me years ago about self-pity and brought me to this list that I was studying, I thought, well, self-pity's not on the list and then I got an eye-opening revelation. It is right on the list because self-pity is idolatry. When we feel sorry for ourselves, we turn inward and idolize ourself and everything becomes about me, I, mine. My whole world is consumed in me and I become self centered. I'm idolizing myself and that is not something that pleases God, and it doesn't please God mainly because he knows how bad it is for us. There's no way that we can be turned inward with our mind on ourself all the time and be happy.
How many of you want to be happy, I mean like happy, happy, happy, really happy? Amen? I think that's the bottom line of what everybody wants. We just really want to be happy. We want to enjoy life and be happy. Now in talking to you about not being full of self-pity, just to make sure we have balance because that's always important, we want to make sure that nobody's thinking that I'm saying that you can never be sad. Of course, if you get disappointed or somebody hurts you or somebody mistreats you, probably gonna feel sad. But God has given us tools to fight those things and to work through those things in a healthy way but not let them control us.
For example if a loved one dies, it's healthy to go through a proper grieving process. It's actually unhealthy not to, but it's wrong to let a spirit of grief get on your life and take you over where you basically never live out the rest of your life because of something that you lost way back here. So in a healthy way, we want to own our own pain and say, you know, that hurts. It hurts. That's why God gave us tears, not just to cry for ourselves but to also for other people that are hurting. However, if we let that go on too long and it becomes self-pity, anyone of us can become literally addicted to self-pity and what happens then is our first response when we don't get our way is to feel sorry for ourselves and if that's the case, you need to do something about it and you need to do it quick. And if it's not the case, if your problem's not that big, good for you but some of the rest of us do have a problem and we want to hear this message tonight and this message will keep you from ever getting a problem like that.
How many of you ever get invited to a pity party by the devil? Well, sad to say we go all too often. Hopefully after tonight we're gonna say, "No thank you. I've been there, done that, don't care to go again". Amen. Make a little noise and let me know you're happy.
Now here is some of the problems with self-pity. When people turn inward and idolize themselves, all their thoughts are centered on themselves so their whole world just becomes about them. God has called us to outreach, not to in-reach. People that are in self-pity are focused on themselves and all their problems and misfortunes and they never see then what they can and should be doing for other people. Now whatever you might want to think, the only way to be happy is to get your mind off yourself and start being a blessing to other people. It's so amusing to me it's like if you spend your life trying to make yourself happy, you'll never be happy, but if you give yourself to God and you trust him to take care of you and to get to you what you need, and you spend a good deal of your time being a blessing to other people, whether that's encouraging them, or helping them physically, or giving to them, or whatever the case might be, serving in some way, shape, or form but you're more outreached minded, you'll get happier and happier every day that you live.
I'm never happier than I am when I'm doing what I'm doing right now. Never happier than I ever am, never more satisfied, never more fulfilled then when I'm doing exactly what I am right now and I'm working hard but, but I know that I'm helping people. And when you help people, then God gives you the joy that only he can give you. Something that's been amazing to me in my life, and I've had some prayer time about this and come to some understanding, have you ever had a big problem and just no matter what you couldn't help yourself? Now why is it that you can have a problem and you can't help yourself by while you can't help yourself, God will anoint you to go help somebody else? Well, if you can let me help somebody else, why don't you let me help me? Because God doesn't want me helping me. God wants me helping you and then when I sow a seed into you, then God takes that seed and he brings a harvest back in my life by having somebody else minister to me. So I minister to you, God touches somebody else and they minister to me and that way everybody gets to be used by God and we all get to have joy.
And if you're anything like I was, you've already wasted enough years of your life trying to make yourself happy and tonight it's time for a change. Now, you know, we're so afraid sometimes: "Well, if I don't take care of myself, then nobody else is gonna take care of me". Well, God will. God will. It may not be a person here on earth, but God will. And let me tell you, when we serve God with all whole heart, he will find somebody that he can work through to be a blessing to us. I don't care if he has to search the world over.
When people are filled with self-pity, focused on themselves, they only see what they don't have. They miss what they do have and that is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all. How many ever get tired of your job? Well, all you gotta do is go sit down somewhere and think, "Now, what would it be like if I didn't have a job"? At least you got a job. You may not be in love with it, but you got one. And if you would be with me in Madagascar in Africa, where 50,000 children live on the streets and you would have interviewed the mom who lives on the streets with her 6 kids and watched her get them ready for bed at night to sleep on the sidewalk, and then see her get up the next morning and go to her little pitiful street sweeping job, or whatever it is, and leave her older kids to take care of the younger kids until she gets back to them that night not with enough money to go sleep inside somewhere, but enough money to hopefully get some food in them for that day, you'd be glad to have your job.
And I'll be honest, I think sometimes we need to do more thinking on purpose. But how many of you know that we are really inclined to think about what we don't have and how tired we are of this and how tired we are of that. But my gosh, we are so blessed. Oh, we are so blessed, so blessed, so blessed, so blessed. So blessed. My goodness. So I think probably the greatest tragedy in all of life is for people to not see what they do have. Even though you may have a terrible situation, you're not alone. God loves you. You know where you're gonna go if you're no longer here on this earth. You're never without hope. No matter how long it takes, you can keep hoping. No matter what didn't work out in the past, you can still have a great future because in God he is a big fan of new beginnings. I mean God is just all over new stuff. And so I'm not making light of anybody's problems, but I'm just saying that what if you had your problem and didn't know Christ? Now that's bad. So even in the worst situation we can think of, we can still have a chat with ourselves and remind ourselves that we've got the best situation we can have for such a bad situation that we've got.
You know I wasted so many years of my life, wasted, wasted, wasted, and I want to emphasize wasted, in self-pity, wasting my days feeling sorry for myself. I felt sorry for myself because I'd been abused sexually by my dad. And I felt sorry for myself because my mother knew about it and she didn't rescue me. So then I married the first guy that came along and felt sorry for myself because he was a con man that wouldn't work and was unfaithful, ran around with other women, ended up in prison. So then I married Dave who did work and was faithful, so I felt sorry for myself because he played golf and watched sports.
And when Dave and I first got married, I worked a full time job and I felt sorry for myself because I had to work so much. I had had one child from my first marriage and named him David, interestingly enough. And Dave adopted him and I wanted to stay home with him more, so I cut my work hours down to a part-time job. And then I still wasn't happy and so I quit working altogether so I could be home more. Then I felt sorry for myself because I was home all the time while Dave was out with all the people. Does anybody been there, done that? After all, Dave got to go out every day and go to work and be around people while I was home with the kids which was exactly where I said I wanted to be when I started.
And you know the first few years of our marriage, Dave tried to keep me happy and then one day he threw his hands up and he said, "You know what? I'm done". Now he didn't mean like he was done with me, he's just like, "I'm not spending my life trying to make you happy. You can get happy or not get happy but I'm gonna be happy". And to be honest, if you're in the mess I was in, that would be the best thing that somebody could say to you. And he would look at me and say, "I'm not gonna feel sorry for you". "You are the meanest person on the planet. You don't have any feelings, no emotions..." he said, "I'm not gonna feel sorry for you because it won't help you".
And I hate to have to sit here and say it but he was right, it wouldn't have helped me, because when you have a problem with self-pity, other people feeling sorry for you just feeds the problem that you already have. Now I know some of you think I'm being mean, but I'm not.
Very quick we're not gonna turn there. There was a man that had been crippled for 38 years laying by a pool waiting for a once-a-year miracle when an angel would come and stir up the waters and if he, whoever got in the pool first, got a miracle. Well, Jesus came by. "How long have you been in that condition"? "Thirty-eight years". You would think Jesus would have said, "Oh man, wow". And he said, "Do you really want to get well? Are you serious about getting well"? This is exactly what it says in the amplified Bible. "Are you serious about getting well"? Then he said, "Well, every time I try to get in the pool, somebody gets ahead of me". Can't you hear it? "And I have nobody to help me. I have nobody to help me". And you would think that Jesus would have just kneeled down and said, "Oh". He said, "Get up"! And there's a big exclamation Mark in the Bible, get up! And so that's in effect what I'm doing tonight. I'm saying it's time to get up! Because you get nothing out of self-pity other than worn out. You're almost guaranteed to get a headache and a stomachache.
Met a lady in Utah and she said, "I tell ya, sister, life has thrown me under the bus". I said, "You know what? It did the same thing to me and now I'm driving the bus". So you can lay under the bus, you can lay by the pool for another 38 years or you can say, "Look, this is what has happened to me so far. A lot of it hasn't been my fault. Maybe some of it has been my fault, but I'm not gonna live backwards. I've got a future. It's time for me to get up, get over myself, and get about God's business".
Here are some open doors for self-pity, things that you want to avoid, lack of balance in your life, not taking time to do things that you enjoy. It's an open invitation to burn out and burn out almost always is an invitation to a pity party. Being too tired is an invitation to a pity party, and I can tell you that this is when I face the most temptation, when I am too tired and I'm not resting enough. And sometimes for me it's not even just sleep and rest, it's quiet. I need quiet. I got here Thursday afternoon, I went in my room. Dave and I love each other but when we're on the road, he has a room, I have a room. You know we're in the same space but... Dave wants to watch golf, I want to be quiet. I need to study, Dave likes to sing so... whatever you gotta work out to be peaceful, gotta work it out. Amen? But we do stay together at home in case you're wondering. Just to let you know about all of our sleeping habits, we do stay at home together. Get some quiet time in your life where there's no noise, no people, no telephones, no radios, no televisions.
Another open door to self-pity is unresolved issues, anger, strife, offended, hurt. The next one is looking to wrong sources to meet your needs, that's a real open door for a lot of major disappointment. And when you have enough disappointment pileup, if you're not careful, it will turn into self-pity.