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"I tell you (Jesus is saying), this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 18:14).

Self-centeredness (or narcissism) begins very early in life. Perhaps it is the first negative childhood characteristic that surfaces.

Friends come to visit you, bringing their child into your home. Your child watches as the young visitor make a beeline for his toy box. The fight and tug of war over the toy, often observed, speaks loudly of a weakness of insecurity that surfaces and seems to follow us doggedly the rest of our lives.

Self-centeredness surfaces in many ways: pride, selfishness, covetousness, self-exaltation, ostentatiousness, self-justification. It can be loud talk, dominating the conversation; raucous laughter, drowning out all others; or outlandish, peculiar clothing.

Self-centeredness also will be displayed by comparing ourselves with other people to make ourselves look better. Usually a very poor loser gloats much over victory. Many times compliments are canceled out by the voice of someone else pointing out a weakness.

In Luke chapter 18, Jesus' parable of contrast between the Pharisee and the publican is a good, descriptive comparison for us to ponder. It is a large mirror into which we should all take a long hard look. As we do, I believe we will see much childhood insecurity following us, even into our Christian life, that contributes much to our immaturity.

This is not an image we should walk away from and promptly forget, as the Apostle James suggests we are usually doing.

Jesus said that the Pharisee stood and prayed with himself. This self-centered, selfish prayer is an apt description of well over 90 percent of all prayers. "Lord, bless me, and my family - us four and no more" is a little rhyme that is all too familiar. The Pharisee thinks only of himself. He thinks he is much better than anyone else.

How can a self-centered person do otherwise? How can he ever get to know someone else, their families, their problems, and their needs? He is wrapped up in only one person: himself. This began, no doubt, in his childhood; and as an adult, he has yet to face it and begin to prayerfully acknowledge it before the Father.

Notice that, in the Pharisee's prayer, he contrasts himself with the sins of others which he thinks are worse. How many times have you heard someone say, "I am not any worse than most people I know, and probably a little better," or "If I go to hell, all my friends will be there with me."

Yes, and even those who know God can remain self-centered if they refuse to face this insecurity. The world of the insecure, self-centered person is a small one. Even his religious life, including church fellowship, is small.

Let's Not Grow Too Much Here
As a supervisor of many churches, I have watched this religious insecurity and self-centeredness surface when a new pastor in a church begins to grow and draw in new people. When the saints, who have been in the church, sitting in the same pew every Sunday and seeing the same faces, are suddenly forced to sit somewhere else, shake hands, and - horror of horrors - even be hugged by a visitor, their little religious vacuum is shattered.

Of course, they have said "Amen" to the pastor's prayer each Sunday - the prayer that was lifted up to God on behalf of the city and neighborhood for sinners to be saved. But being so narcissistic (or self-centered) and insecure, they couldn't have meant that "Amen".

As God answered their prayer, new people began to come in and force a change in their religious environment. Apparently they became unhappy that God had answered their prayer.

It is possible that these deep, unchallenged insecurities in the saints were the culprit that has caused the dismissal of pastors and the red light that has stopped the fresh breath of revival. In many instances they have even caused a church split.

Making the Switch to Love Others
Jesus, in talking about loving our neighbors as we do ourselves, was endeavoring to break us out of this deadly mold. It is painfully apparent that the Pharisee had not been able to do this, or couldn't do it, as he looked around for someone with which to compare himself, to make himself look better.

The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself will cause you to think of other first. We all love ourselves sufficiently already. We, no doubt, began at that point as children. Now we must make the painful, obedient switch.

The neighbors and their needs must become the ones you remember first as you lead your family in prayer. The government and those in authority should be the first ones we corporately remember (2 Tim. 2:1-2) as we pray together at the church service, reaching out and away from "us four and no more."

Let us come closer to home as we remember Paul's words to the Ephesians: "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself" (Eph. 5:28).

It Begins With The Husband
The remedy for many marital problems rests with the husband. Paul has already commanded the wives to submit to their husbands in the same manner they submit to the Lord (Eph. 5:22). If the wife is submitting - and the Word of God requires her to do so - then the complete responsibility rests on the man.

The husband is the head of the wife the same as Christ is the head of the church. He is to love her as he loves himself. When he endeavors to do this, he will find himself fighting against all of his childhood insecurities.

From a child, it not taught differently (and most of us were not), he was turned inwardly: "My toy, my daddy, my mother, my house." As an adult, he must turn and put somebody else first: his wife, his children, his church, and of course his Lord.

Because men have not been taught to face this insecurity, they are deeply frustrated in their marriage relationship. Divorce is on every hand in the Christian home, as well as in the world. This ought not be; not just the broken home and the divorce, but the frustration and conflict in the Christian life that so many seen to experience.

We must face the insecurities that plague us. How do we find help after we have knowledge of the weakness of self-centeredness, self-consciousness, and selfishness?

Jesus has the answer for us as He contrasted the two men in prayer In Luke 18. The Pharisee prayed from selfish pride; the publican prayed from deep humility and acknowledgment of his sins. We must face our earthly, apparent weakness as saints, inasmuch as the righteousness of Christ has taken care of our eternal righteousness. As we face these earthly insecurities, our wonderful Lord will help us. He wants to and He will.

We can overcome our weaknesses by taking them to Him. Let us face our selfishness in our marriages. Most of us love ourselves more than we love each other. Through repentance, we are to acknowledge this. It is not a better husband or wife that we need but a bigger heart. Divorce doesn't solve problems, it creates them.

The publican prayer, "Be merciful to me," caused him to be justified. God heard that prayer and He will hear yours. Not only was His mercy and grace available for the time we prayed as sinners, it is constantly available as we live this Christian life. God, our loving Father, wants to meet all our needs as we look to Him to help us and heal us from our insecurities.

A Prayer
Dear Father, I acknowledge the insecurities that have followed me into my Christian life. They hinder me from loving my neighbor as myself and my wife (or husband) as I love my own body. Dear Lord, I want to be a big person, free from this weakness of self-centeredness. I want to be a godly neighbor and a good husband (or wife) and parent.

By Your help, I will put others' needs first. I will stop talking about myself and putting others down. I will become a good listener. I will humble myself before You and, with Your help, will stop being self-centered. I ask this, Father…in Jesus' name. Amen.
Source: Healing Your Insecurities by Dr. Roy H. Hicks
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Roy Hicks
Web site:
Roy H. Hicks was a successful minister of the Gospel who gave his life to pastoring and pioneering churches throughout the United States. He served the Lord in various foreign fields, having made missionary journeys to South America, the Orient, Australia, and New Zealand.

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