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Narcissism unleashed

By Jim Killebrew

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[February 10, 2014]  It is amazing to me that the people in the world today, especially the Western world, are so filled with self-centeredness. Almost every day there are stories of people who do things mean or unsightly to others because of their own feeling of privilege and beliefs in their superiority. These narcissistic personalities are crafting their lives on the backs of others whom they feel are unimportant and undeserving by maneuvering events and situations toward themselves just so they can feel important.

It is almost like we have become a society of anti-social personalities who are predisposed to destroy those around us just so we can see ourselves in the mirror one more time or take one more "selfie." It is there in business, government, industry, communities and families and of course, individuals. It is more than fierce competition that drives us to undercut those around us. It has become a natural lifestyle of many who see themselves as "number one" and require the worship of others. When that self-aggrandized worship is denied, the person presses even more fiercely to claw their way to the top of the heap. It leads to some feeling exhilarated in achieving their goal to dump as many as possible from humanity onto the garbage heap of human misery.

The writer of Proverbs says, "Better is a person of humble standing who nevertheless has a servant, than one who pretends to be somebody important yet has no food."  Proverbs 12:9

The "humble" person who is looked down upon by others, who is not part of the "in" crowd, but still does the very best he can, and at the same time is fair and just in his relationship with others, is a much better person than the one who is pretentious. This is a person who feigns importance for himself: a practice of "playacting" a part of being someone important to make others think of the person more highly. Yet, even though that person spends all of his money on himself to make himself look good, he makes himself so poor he is unable to even afford food for himself. This is a person who lives well beyond his financial means just to impress others and make them think he is better than he actually is.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians: "Carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. For each one will carry his own load."  Galatians 6:2-5

We are warned repeatedly in the Scriptures not to think of ourselves more highly than others:

"For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith."  Romans 12:3

"There is a generation whose eyes are so lofty, and whose eyelids are lifted up disdainfully."  Proverbs 30:13

"Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited."  Romans 12:16

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"The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks, 'God won't hold me accountable; he doesn't care.'"  Psalms 10:4

"Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself."  Philippians 2:3

These Scriptures warn against the haughtiness of self-centeredness. Instead we are encouraged to gain wisdom by thinking of others and what is best for them.

The Apostle James gave us the path to true wisdom: "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, and demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace."  James 3:13-18

Jealousy and selfishness brings only the disorder of society and evil practices. In contrast, see the difference wisdom brings: "Pureness, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical." We are longing for peace among us? Then we must be wise with our actions and put others before ourselves.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy that there would be signs of the last days. One of the things we could look for was how people would be treating others in the culture and society: "But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these."  1 Timothy 3:1-5

Reading through these words brings us to the realization that our world is practicing these things almost to the letter. People are "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant ... loving pleasure rather than loving God." Could there be any more insightful commentary on our world than that?


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