“Why is God letting that narcissist thrive in life while I’m over here suffering in silence?” “Why can’t people see the truth about this person? They are clearly manipulating others for their own profit.” “I just don’t understand why God would allow that narcissist to treat me like that. Why won’t God do anything?”
So what will God do to a narcissist according to the Bible? Well, to be clear, the word narcissism is not found in the Bible. However, there are numerous references to the dangers of selfishness, self-promotion, and idolizing one’s self. When you read these Bible passages, it becomes abundantly clear God has thoroughly warned us against practicing the traits that are often associated with a true narcissist.
Therefore, it’s good to study what the Bible will do to a narcissist so we can avoid thinking they are getting away with anything and so we can make sure we ourselves are not falling into narcissism.
1. God Will Let the Narcissist Choose Their Own Selfish Misery
When you read the Bible through worldly eyes, it can seem like a very unattractive way to live your life.
For example, Philippians 2:3 commands, “. . . in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” That’s not appealing to people who don’t understand the full context of biblical self-sacrifice. But when you read verses like this in context, there is always a clear teaching that self-sacrifice is one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself (Philippians 2:2, 18).
God’s commands to love him and to love others are actually the roadmap to the most joyful life possible. As Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” In Matthew 16:25 he also said, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
A narcissist will never know the deep joy that comes through service because they are completely obsessed with serving themselves and manipulating others into serving them too. They are a blackhole that can never be satisfied because they do not understand where true happiness is found (Psalm 16:11). In trying to take more and more and give less and less, they are only increasing their own misery.
1 Corinthians 13:3 states that those who do not love have nothing. Love is to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of another (John 15:13). Thus, those who do not sacrifice for others end up with nothing themselves.
God’s warnings about selfishness are clear, thus he lets us choose this misery if we want to since we’ve been fairly warned. God doesn’t even need to actively inflict the punishment of joylessness onto a narcissist because they are inflicting this misery onto themselves.
2. God Will Let Them Burn Every Bridge So They Become an Island of Loneliness
The more and more people they stab in the back, the more and more people know they are a backstabber. Thus, less people will show them their back.
For example, Paul was harmed by many people throughout his ministry. At times, he didn’t name them. But at other times, perhaps when their sins were especially dangerous and people needed to be warned, Paul did name them (1 Timothy 1:19-20, 2 Timothy 4:10-16). In any case, Paul assures us that wicked people will eventually always be exposed (2 Timothy 3:9). In Romans 16:17-18, he wrote a warning especially relevant to our discussion about narcissists:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
As Christians obey God’s word and avoid people who serve “their own appetites,” slowly but surely these people will burn every bridge and become an island of loneliness with no one who trusts them. “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (Psalm 37:1-2).
3. God Will Expose Them So Others Will Not Be Hurt and So People Will Have an Example of God’s Punishment
1 Timothy 5:19-20 states, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”
God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7). We all reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7-9). In love, God gives people time to repent (2 Peter 3:9). Eventually, however, those who reject Christ will be punished if they never repent. God exposes people’s wickedness so that their downfall would be a warning to us all not to follow in their paths (1 Corinthians 10:6-12). As James 3:15-18 warns us:
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
A narcissist who never repents will be punished by God. May we all repent of any narcissistic tendencies that reside in our own sinful flesh. Through the new nature in Christ, we can live selfless, joyful lives full of love for God and others (Ephesians 4:20-24).