Self-centeredness usually succeeds because it causes us to center more on what we don’t have than what we have. One of its most insidious manifestations erupts in self-pity. Oswald Chambers writes, “No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest upon the throne. It opens our mouths to spit out murmurings and our lives become craving spiritual sponges, there is nothing lovely or generous about them.” Nothing about feeling sorry for ourselves inspires others. In fact, it sucks people dry because self-pity refuses to be comforted.
I believe the victory over self-pity is achieved as we make conscious decisions to keep pouring out. In spite of our circumstances, we chose to empty self rather than be absorbed by it. Scripture encourages us in this mindset. In the above passage, Paul knows he doesn’t have a long time left on the earth. So what is he doing? Complaining that he was finishing in prison? Lamenting that he had nothing left to give? No way! He was continuing to give instruction and encouragement not only to Timothy, but (unbeknown to him) to future generations. How many of us today have found strength in his admonishment from that lonely prison cell to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith? (verse 7) What if we didn’t have those recorded words? What if Paul would have focused on himself rather than remaining fixed on God’s plan? The world would be poorer.
May I encourage you today to keep giving? No matter what you are facing, resist the temptation to self-pity. Let’s embrace the kind of giving that slices through our self-centered natures like a laser beam disintegrating a tumor.