John Piper on Pride, Self-Pity, and Christian Hedonism
I came across a profound and powerful message from John Piper’s The Dangerous Duty of Delight. Piper wrote on pride, self-pity, and Christian Hedonism. Here’s the quote:
Christian Hedonism combats pride because it puts man in the category of an empty vessel beneath the fountain of God. Philanthropists can boast. Welfare recipients can’t. The primary experience of the Christian Hedonist is one of helplessness and desperation and longing. When a helpless child is being swept off his feet by the undercurrent on the beach and his father sweeps him up just in time, he does not boast; he hugs.
The nature and depth of human pride are illuminated by comparing boasting to self-pity. 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 suffered 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 so needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego. It doesn’t come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.
Christian Hedonism severs the root of self-pity. People don’t feel self-pity when suffering is accepted for the sake of joy1.
1John Piper-John Piper, The Dangerous Duty of Delight (Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2001), 34.