The Dangerous Duty of Delight, chapter 4

Pursuing Pleasure Undermines Pride and Self-Pity

If you've not yet been able to get a copy of the book (eBook available here for $7), then you can read chapter 4 here. 

Piper tells us that human pride and self-pity share the same root. Either we boast, saying ‘I deserve admiration because I have achieved much’, or we exult in our self-pity, saying ‘I deserve admiration because I have suffered so much.’ Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak.

Our current experiences of natural disasters, wars and pandemic have taken a toll on many in our world– even among those not directly or materially impacted. And yet, no matter our circumstances, pride continues to produce both boasting (I survived because I am strong) and self-pity (woe is me, my holidays/travel/goods suffered loss). Even those experiencing the grief of very personal and costly losses, those who really do deserve and need our practical care and support– all of us– can be drawn into the vortex of pride and self-pity.

In response, pursuing our greatest joy in God keeps us from both vices. When we are ’empty vessels beneath the fountain of God’, pride is overthrown. When the suffering Christian does not summon up their own resources like a hero, but instead trusts God like a small child, self-pity is consumed by loving trust in God. Freely finding our satisfaction in our greatest treasure– God himself– therefore deserves no special credit but is instead its own reward.

For Consideration and Prayer:

When is ‘pride’ your weakness? When is ‘self-pity’ your weakness? How might the following scriptures form your response?

Philippians 2:14    Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

1Peter 4:12    Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

James 1:2    Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

Matthew 5:11    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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