Summary: When you arrive at church, check your ego at the door. Man's ego has no place in the work of God.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…”
We get the word "narcissism" from Greek mythology. Narcissus was an extremely handsome young man. Echo fell desperately in love with him. He ignored her and broke her heart, yet she continued to love him. Their relationship was made nearly impossible because the gods had willed it that he could hear only the last two words of her conversation. Regularly he would misunderstand her. The end result was that Echo pined away to death. However, her "last two words" remain to this day as "echoes."
Nemesis, the goddess of retribution –who pays you back for your wrong doing –punished Narcissus for his neglect of Echo by causing him to fall in love with his own image which he saw mirrored in a pool of water. He could not attend to any of his needs other than the need to admire and love himself in the mirrored pool. As a result he dies and Nemesis turned him into the flower that we today call the narcissus!
The Word of God in Proverbs 16: 18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” We are often blind to our own faults, and this is extremely dangerous for those of us in ministry positions within the church. It is a cancer to our ministry and sadly we have all witnessed dozens of pastors go down in defeat in a very public way due to their arrogance, pride, and enormous ego.
Left unchecked, our ministry will exist only for humanistic purposes and not for the purposes and will of God. I believe that the more we are flattered the more dangerous it can become. Flattery and criticism are complete opposites but can be equally damaging. You’ve heard it said that, “flattery can get you anywhere” and this almost true to an extent, flattery can also get you to place that you really don’t want to be. It can cause you to think more highly of yourself than you ought to—and this is the place in your ministry that you really don’t want to be. In these last days we want to be in a place where our mind, our heart, and our soul is constantly stayed on Jesus.
In and of ourselves we have absolutely nothing to brag or be prideful about. Look what Paul says in Galatians 6: 14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The Cross is or should be the only boast of a minister or church leader. We have absolutely nothing else to feel proud about, not our oratorical abilities, not the size of our church and not our popularity among the masses, just the Cross of Jesus Christ.
As Paul lies in his cell realizing that his death was near. He is concerned about the future of the gospel. He knew that the evil of the times were on their way, and so he pens a couple of extremely vital and important letters to his “dearly beloved son”, his associate minister Timothy. At the time of this letter it was actually a crime to be a Christian and Paul sincerely hopes that Timothy may come and bring Mark also. –2 Timothy 4: 11
But if not, Paul discusses final matters with Timothy through this letter, and within this letter he reminds Timothy to know this also, “…that in the last days perilous times shall come.” And curiously (to me at least) he begins with the thought that, “…men shall be lovers of their own selves.” Being in love with your self includes the desire to promote your own well being at the expense of others. It is an excessive regard to always be on top and have an advantage over others; in short, it is selfishness, self-righteousness, and it is the self centered behavior known as narcissism.
Self-love makes us focus on our self rather than God
Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” –Matthew 16:24-25, sadly the denial of self is one of man’s most difficult problems. Self-denial consists in the voluntary renunciation of everything, which is inconsistent with the glory of God.
However, selfishness seems to constantly get in the way by making a man’s self his own center, the beginning and end of all that he does. We live in a day and an age where people only care about themselves. Men and women love themselves; the only thing they really care about is themselves. Paul says to Timothy one indicator that we are in living the last days will be this, men will only care about themselves and you need to know this.