In my last article, I outlined seven characteristics of a narcissist and talked about the connection between narcissism and hypocrisy. Did you know that the concept of narcissism can be found in the Bible? While the terms narcissist or narcissism are not mentioned, examples of narcissistic people are given and the characteristics of narcissism are described. Check out this excerpt from Hypocrisy Exposed for more:
Narcissists by nature, are abusive toward people. When you combine an extreme sense of entitlement, a self-centered need for admiration, and no ability to empathize with others, you have a person who thrives on having power and control over others. You have a person who uses others for their own gain. You have a person who sees others as objects instead of people. Abuse can take on many forms—physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, and more.
It is important to understand that abusers are not abusive toward everyone; they have targets with whom they connect to and systematically destroy over time. The abuse often happens off-and-on in cycles, which creates much confusion for the victim. If you discover that someone is guilty of abusive behavior, you will probably think, How can that be true? He seems like such a nice guy! This is the deceptive nature of hypocrisy and narcissistic abuse.
Psychology does its best to describe and define certain patterns of human behavior. What psychology calls narcissism is actually described in the Bible pretty clearly. There are examples of people who fit the description quite well: King Saul, Jezebel, and King Herod are a few examples that come to mind. There are also descriptions that definitely connect to the concept of narcissism, without using the term itself. One such example is from 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV):
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Notice that the first characteristic on the list is “lovers of self.” This is the foundation of narcissism: a grandiose and inflated view of self; self-importance; self-worship. Many, if not most, of the other traits on the list fit very well with the characteristics of narcissism. And notice the connection to hypocrisy at the end of the list: “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” There is only an outward appearance of godliness, but there is no real power behind it. There is no inward reality; it is only a masquerade.
Sadly, Paul states that the best way to deal with such people is to avoid them altogether. This may seem unloving or rude, but when a person displays an ongoing pattern of irrational and damaging behavior, and lives in a warped view of reality, there is little hope for fruitful conversation or genuine relationship. Boundaries must be set in order to keep from being entangled in a toxic relationship. This is not being mean; it is exercising wisdom and refusing to enable destructive behavior. We have sometimes taken the mindset that suffering for Jesus means that we have to be everyone’s doormat, or that we must perpetually put up with abusive behavior. But this is not the case at all. There comes a time when enough is enough!