Did Jesus die for the narcissist?


Tomorrow is Good Friday, and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are on my mind — as they should be.

For some reason my mind wondered if Jesus died for the narcissist.

Let me start by saying that the term narcissistic has become a description of choice for anyone who is self-centered. I think we have to be careful throwing that term around. I also believe that each of us can fall into narcissistic tendencies if we don’t walk with Jesus and allow him to do his work in us. Read Galatians 5 and compare the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t the works of the flesh describe the narcissist?

Narcissism is likely a diagnosis resulting from childhood trauma, learned behaviors and/or genetic predisposition. Many cultural and family tendencies can contribute to creating narcissistic tendencies in an individual. According to PsychCentral, narcissism manifests in at least two of these areas:

  • thought
  • emotions
  • interactions with others
  • impulse control

It’s very possible that you know someone who exhibits narcissistic tendencies. So back to my question:

Did Jesus die for the narcissist?

I’m sure many of you are saying right now, Yes of course! Jesus died for everyone! And of course you are absolutely right. Jesus died for the sins of the narcissist as he died for mine.

So my next question becomes If Jesus died for the narcissist, how should that affect me?

That’s where I’m going to get into your business. I want you to think about that narcissist who hurt you deeply. Who is this person who betrayed you, used you, lied to you and about you, manipulated you until you thought you were going crazy? Who is this person who blamed you for all the problems in life? Who is this person who went into a fit of rage and cursed you and your children until you were curled up in a fetal position? Who is this narcissist?

Will you wash their feet?

Stay with me for a minute. In the days leading up to Jesus’ cross, he washed the feet of his disciples as they gathered around the table for the last supper (see John 13). Before eating, he placed a towel around his waist and began to wash their feet.

And Judas was among the disciples.

Yes, even knowing that Judas’ betrayal was imminent, Jesus washed his feet. He did not rule out serving the one who would send him to the cross. And, we could certainly argue that Judas – in his desire for his own personal gain – exhibited narcissistic tendencies.

When I first faced this challenge, I was reeling from the pain of divorce. I had been betrayed in the deepest, most intimate way. I was confronted daily with false accusations. I was told several times that it was all my fault. I frequently reflected on the many blasphemous tirades that my children and I had endured.

And they asked me if I was ready to wash his feet.

Honestly, the challenge didn’t go over well with me. I was trying to free myself from its grip and escape the toxicity that had been my life. But, if I really want to be like Jesus, I have to humble myself and become a servant. I must be ready to forgive as Christ forgave. I have to be ready to focus more on my clean sins than those of others.

Slowly I allowed God to do a work in my own life. I asked Him to show me all the areas where I displeased Him. I asked him to pierce my heart with the living Word of God, to search me, to test me, and to see if there was any evil way in me (Psalm 139:23-24). Slowly I became so aware of my own sinful ways that I had no time to worry about anyone else’s sins.

Let me pause for a minute and reinforce a point: You don’t have to submit to the abusive behavior to have the the attitude of Christ Jesus. Forgiveness is not reconciliation. It is an attitude of the heart. And, even as I sought to forgive my own “Judas,” I never again submitted to the toxic behaviors.

What do you do with a narcissist? How do we show the humility of a Christlike heart? Here are some thoughts.

We have to come to terms with our own sins. As I mentioned earlier, we can all exhibit narcissistic behaviors at times.

There are six things the Lord hates – no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that rush to do the evil, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. Proverbs 6:16-19

Has pride ever stopped you from admitting you were wrong? Have you ever been the cause of discord within your own household? Have you ever lied? Have you ever shown pride? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, God hates your actions and you are no better than the narcissist in your life.

We must ask God to show us the error of our ways. When was the last time you really sat quietly with God and asked Him to search your heart and see if there was any disobedience? When was the last time you took the time to really let the Word of God penetrate the deepest recesses of your soul?

We are so busy in our lives – and so complacent in our walks – that we don’t see it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. We don’t realize that if we had been dining with Jesus, he would also have washed our feet.

Lord Jesus, show me the error of my ways. Make me so aware of the sin in my own life that my heart is broken for what I have done to you. Pierce my heart with the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to it to reveal the true condition of our hearts. Oh yes. Many of us pray daily, asking the Father to forgive us of our sins. But do we take the time to Listen? Do we really let Him talk about rampant sin in our lives?

Often our own pride (see again Proverbs 6) keeps us from seeing our own sin. Maybe our actions aren’t necessarily sinful, but they hurt someone else. Guess what? If our actions – even if they are not necessarily sins in themselves – cause pain to someone else, we must own. We must seek that person’s forgiveness and God’s forgiveness.

“So if you present a sacrifice at the altar of the Temple and suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go make up with this person. So come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:23-24

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we celebrate the incredible gift Jesus gave us when he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Are you ready to really examine your heart? Are you ready to let him do the work he started over 2000 years ago? Are you willing to admit that you need Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness as much as this narcissist in your life?

I am.

Father, today I come to you seeking your face. I confess that I am a sinner, saved by your sumptuous grace. I know my heart is full of pride and arrogance and so many other things unbecoming of a princess. I place myself at your feet and ask you to reveal the true condition of my heart. Make me so aware of my own sins that I have compassion only for others. In the precious holy name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Kalawin

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