Boasting and self-pity

Continuing our daily habit of reading outloud, Jim and I are working our way through Future Grace by John Piper. Today’s section, in part, considered the relationship between boasting and self-pity. (Piper originally published these thoughts in his book entitled Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.)

“Both are manifestations of pride. Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, ‘I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.’ Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed 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. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing.

“The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego and the desire of the self-pitying is not really for others to see them as helpless, but heroes. The need self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.”

He goes on to write, “In the heart of the proud, anxiety is to the future what self-pity is to the past. What did not go well in the past gives us a sense that we deserve better. But if we could not make things go our way in the past, we may not be able to in the future either. Instead of making the proud humble, this possibility makes them anxious.”

Furthermore, he writes, “Anxiety does not look like pride. It looks weak. It looks as though you admit you don’t control the future. Yes, in a sense the proud admit that. But the admission does not kill pride until the proud heart is willing to look to the one who does control the future and rest in him.”

So many nuggets (boulders?!) in this book to ponder. O, that I may depend solely on the Lord to be who He promises He is: my rock, my sustainer, my refuge, my hope. May He provide comfort to those who are hurting today, clarity to those who are confused. May I search my own heart to see where pride may be lurking disguised as either boasting or self-pity. Lord, show me.

(And, Lord, be evident in Poltava today even in a distressing adoption situation.)



  1. Great post….thanks!!!! I have always recognized boasting and self-pity as pride, but have never heard of it explained this way…what insight!!! Hope you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!!!!

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