Narcissus was a hunter in Greek mythology. He was the most beautiful person. He was so dissatisfied with those who claimed they loved him that he expected them to kill themselves to prove their love of him. It wasn’t until he passed a smooth pool of water and saw his own reflection that he fell in love. Ultimately, he was so in love with his own reflection that he didn’t leave the pool and died.
The term narcissism obviously comes from this story. Narcissism is a personality disorder (according to the “official” diagnosis) where a person has an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
Only troubled relationships cannot be (fully) concluded from our understanding of the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees. As we look at the list of issues that are symptomatic of narcissism, we can see echoes of them in these verses. Yet, while it really would be hard to accuse them of having traits to the depth necessary to be narcissistic, they definitely had issues.
We all have issues. Any of these should be an issue for a Christian as they are not in line with a Christian walk. One of the other issues that isn’t covered under the list of narcissism is self-indulgence. This may be the razor’s edge of many decisions.
Self-indulgence can take many forms. Currently, though, it seems to take more the form of self-righteousness. Of course, it really is hard to define self-righteousness, as we are all self-righteous to a degree.
How does one then evaluate an action through the lens of self-righteousness? One must look outside oneself. What is the litmus test being used?
That should be the question we ask ourselves as we move through these troubled times.
Lord Jesus, help us to look to you to define and guide our actions that we bring honor and glory to you. Amen.
1) What is the litmus test for what makes an action or thought self-righteous or not? How about self-indulgence?
2) What might be the best way to work through self-righteous and self-indulgent actions and thoughts with fellow Christians?