That’s right. You read it! Stop loving yourself first and love God first. In this age of self care, self love, and selfies we feel more discouraged, disconnected, and depressed than ever before. Why? Because we have stopped prioritizing God and relationships. We have forgotten the greatest commandment given by Jesus in Matthew 22:37
Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”Tweet
Well what about the second commandment? Love your neighbor as yourself? Doesn’t that say we should have self love? No, it doesn’t. God never commands us to love ourselves because as humans (in our sinful state) it is most natural to love ourselves. We do a lot of things that may look like self sacrifice but is truly the love of self.
One example is the person that says they just neglected themselves all these years because they sacrificed while taking care of others. Was it true self sacrifice or was there something rewarding about it? Did you love the fight of seeking justice at work because it made you feel like Wonder Woman? Did it make you feel good to get “Thank you” and “You’re Amazing” when you stepped up to help even when you were overwhelmed already? Do you not say “No” because you don’t like confrontation? You probably did all this because of self. Did you seek to validate yourself among men in some way? I can’t answer that for you. You will have to go to prayer to see what God wants to reveal in you.
Then there is the opposite side of the coin. The one who does self care so “well” that it is their top priority. The one that won’t budge on going to the gym to meet a friend for coffee early in the morning. The one who gets mad when her evening reading time is interrupted by her kids. The one who says no to everyone and leaves the heavy lifting to the “Yes” people. This is the selfishness of self care. How is this obeying the 1st and 2nd greatest commandments? Again, determining if you have excessive self care is something God will have to reveal.
1 Corinthians 10:31Tweet
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
What do we do then? We do everything to glorify God. We are being transformed into the image of Christ and thus are His ambassadors on Earth. This doesn’t mean we are a doormat nor does it mean we get to be selfish with our self care. When we prioritize God, we prioritize His word. In His word are some great examples of self care. Let’s take peek.
Let’s start with Jesus. Self care was on his to do list. He took time to leave the crowds. His agenda was to pray to God the Father and then rest. In Luke 5:16 he tells us that Jesus frequently went to the wilderness to pray. Mark 1:35 shows us Jesus getting up early in the morning to pray in a deserted place. In Luke 6:12 Jesus goes to a mountain to pray. There are even more scriptures of Jesus leaving the crowds, or trying to, to pray. Self care starts with prayer.
Self care starts with prayer.Tweet
In 1 Kings 19 we read about Elijah’s plight. Elijah is in a sorry state. So before the Lord gives him the “Pull yourself together” speech, He allows Elijah to sleep and ministers to him through food and hydration. Then the Lord gives Elijah an admonishment, some instructions, some good news, and sends him out to do the Lord’s will. Self care is refreshment of life’s essentials. Then you get to go out and serve the Lord.
One could make the case of self care with Daniel. However, he definitely did it to glorify God and not himself. In Daniel 1 we read of a young man, who worshiped God and knew His word, refusing to eat the king’s food that was forbidden by law to an Israelite. Because of Daniel’s choice to glorify God, God blessed Daniel and his friends. They were healthier and more fit than the other young men. Self care can look like a healthy meal. Self care starts with doing what is right in God’s eyes.
Self care starts with doing what is right in God’s eyes.Tweet
In Exodus 18 we see Moses trying to judge the whole congregation of Israel BY HIMSELF! When his father-in-law Jethro met him in the wilderness he immediately addressed the fact that Moses was wearing himself out and it wasn’t good for him. Jethro then gave some great advice: share the load. Moses was to appoint God fearing men to rule over thousands, hundreds, and tens. This way all disputes, questions, and concerns could be brought up the the chain. Somewhere along the way things were most likely resolved before they came to Moses. Self care is asking for help. Bear each other’s loads; it will be easier for everyone.
Can’t you see? Prioritizing God, prioritizing His word is the first step to self care. When our world is all out of whack stop seeking self care to have the peace you crave. Seek first the kingdom of God! Peace will come when He is first in your life. I leave you with Matthew 6:25-34.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? 26 Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? 27 And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? 28 Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! 30 And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? 31 So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.