Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

Did Jesus Die for the Narcissist?

Tomorrow is Good Friday, and Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection are on my mind--as they should be.

For some reason, my mind has been asking if Jesus died for the narcissist.

Let me start by saying the term narcissist has become a choice description for anyone who is self-centered. I think we have to be cautious in throwing this term around. I also believe every single one of us can fall into narcissistic tendencies if we aren't walking with Jesus and allowing Him to do His work in us. Read Galatians 5 and contrast the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit. Don't the works of the flesh describe the narcissist?

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

  • thinking
  • emotions
  • interactions with others
  • impulse control

It's very possible that you know someone who exhibits narcissistic tendencies. So let's return to my question:

Did Jesus die for the narcissist?

I'm sure many of you right now are saying, Well, of course! Jesus died for everyone!  And of course you are completely correct. Jesus died for the narcissist's sins just as He died for mine.

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

Here's where I'm going to get all up in your business. I want you to think about that narcissist that has hurt you deeply. Who is that person who has betrayed you, used you, lied to and about you, manipulated you until you though you were going insane? Who is that person who has blamed all of life's troubles on you? Who is that person who has flown into a fit of rage and cursed you and your children until you were left curled in the fetal position? Who is that narcissist?

Will you wash their feet?

Stay with me for a minute. In the days before Jesus was taken to the cross, He washed His disciples' feet as they gathered around the table for the last supper (see John 13). Before they ate, he placed a towel around his waist and began to wash their feet.

And Judas was among the disciples. 

Yes, even knowing Judas's betrayal was imminent, Jesus washed his feet. He didn't exclude serving the one who would send him to the cross. And, we could definitely argue that Judas--in his desire for his own personal gain--was exhibiting narcissistic tendencies.

The first time I was presented with this challenge, I was reeling from the pain of divorce. I had been betrayed in the deepest, most intimate way. I was faced daily with false accusations. I was repeatedly told it was all my fault. I reflected frequently on the many profanity-laced tirades that my kids and I had endured.

And I was being asked if I was willing to wash his feet.

Honestly, the challenge didn't set well with me. I was trying to free myself from his grip and escape the toxicity that had been my life. But, if I truly want to be like Jesus, I must humble myself and become a servant. I must be willing to forgive as Christ forgave. I must be willing to focus more on my own sins than on 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 was displeasing to Him. I asked Him to pierce my heart with the living Word of God, to search me and try me and see if there was any wicked way in me (Psalm 139:23-24). Slowly, I became so aware of my own sinful ways that I didn't have time to worry about anyone else's sins.

Let me pause for a minute and reinforce one point: You do not have to subject yourself to the abusive behavior to have the attitude of Christ Jesus. Forgiveness is not about reconciliation. It's an attitude of the heart. And, even as I sought to forgive my own "Judas," I never again subjected myself to the toxic behaviors. 

What do we do in the face of a narcissist? How do we show the humility of a Christ-like heart? Here's a few thoughts.

We must come to grips 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 race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family. Proverbs 6:16-19

Has pride ever prevented you for admitting you were wrong? Have you ever been the cause of discord within your own home? Have you ever lied? Have you ever exhibited pride? If your answer is yes to any of those 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 is the last time you really sat quietly with God and asked Him to search your heart and see if there was any disobedience? When is the last time you took time to really let the Word of God penetrate the deepest recesses of your soul?

We get so busy in our lives--and so complacent in our walks--that we fail to see that it was our sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. We fail to realize that if we had been at the table with Jesus, He would have washed our feet as well.

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 did to you. Pierce my heart with the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Listen for Him 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 allow Him to speak into our lives about the sin that is rampant?

Often, our own pride (see Proverbs 6 again) prevents us from seeing our own sin. Maybe our actions are not necessarily sin, but they cause someone else to hurt. Guess what? If our actions--even if not necessarily sin in and of themselves--causes someone else pain, we need to own itWe need to seek that person's forgiveness and God's forgiveness.

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:23-24

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day we celebrate the amazing gift Jesus gave us when He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Are you willing to truly examine your heart? Are you willing to let Him do the work He began over 2000 years ago? Are you willing to admit you need Jesus's free gift of forgiveness as much as that narcissist in your life?

I am.

Father, today I come to you seeking your face. I admit I am a sinner, saved by your lavish grace. I know my heart is full of pride and arrogance and so many other things unbecoming a princess. I lay 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 only have compassion for others. In Jesus's precious holy name I pray, Amen.

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Kalawin