The Church, since its beginning, has struggled with allowing too much of the world in. What do I mean by that? I mean that corporately, we haven’t done such a great job of making sure it is Scripture alone that informs our thinking, viewpoint, decisions, standards, morals and values. One obvious way that we see this today is the church growth/seeker-sensitive/felt-needs model of structuring a church. That model takes worldly wisdom and applies it to spiritual things. This is not the way we are to do it. It might work well if you are building a new company in a capitalist market, but not for reaching the lost. The church growth model is responsible for raking in hordes of unconverted people and treating them like brethren, which only serves to weaken the true body and contaminate it with sin and false doctrine among other issues.
Today, I would like to examine a new trend that seems to be taking the church by storm. I keep hearing a lot about “self-care” lately and it is primarily targeted at women. There is a growing ideological trend that encompass self-value, self-esteem, positive thinking, and self-nurturing, that for lack of a better word I personally refer to as the “self-care” movement. It all sounds good on the surface, doesn’t it? Who can object to taking good care of oneself? It is up-beat and that is a breath of fresh air in our country right now where everyone is divided and angry.
But what does it mean for the Christian, who is supposed to allow the Word of God to inform their viewpoint? The Bible tells us that as sinners, we have no problem putting ourselves first, and loving ourselves foremost. Jesus built on that fact when He commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Jesus knows that we are all self-focused already. We love ourselves best. So when He wanted to give us an illustration to help us grasp the greatest commandment, He said that we should love other people the way we already love ourselves. *Side note: this is why it isn’t a great strategy to evangelize people by starting with telling them that God loves them. They will just think, “of course He does!” because they already love themselves most. We start with the Law and consequences of sin, and then explain the remedy. But I digress…
Just this week I saw someone musing on social media that one of the greatest tragedies in life was that we had to decide between spending time with our loved ones or spending time on ourselves. This individual felt that both were equally important, therefore what to do? Well, for the believer, the Bible informs us on how we are to prioritize:
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23)
After we are regenerated and given new life in Christ, our purpose is to be a living sacrifice unto the Lord. That means that everything we do: how we spend our time, resources, and energy are to be an act of worship. A selfless act of worship. We are also to put others before ourselves and to love one another, because that is how the world will know we are His disciples. We are vessels and tools that are meant to be used by and for our King. So for the Christian, if it is between doing something to serve ourselves, or serve our family, we serve our family!
To those who find themselves objecting: no, I am not against taking good care of yourself. We all need adequate rest, food, and exercise. The difference is that for the believer, we get those things taken care of in order to serve others well. Whereas it is the end goal in itself for the unsaved. As believers, we also understand we are not promised to always have adequate rest, food, exercise, or any other sort of resource. We are not entitled to a trouble free existence. If we lack those things, we submit anyway and think of others more highly than ourselves. That is where the rubber meets the road and a true act of sacrificial worship takes place. Real life example? My husband has been demonstrating this to me for the last month, sitting up late in the night to help me try to be comfortable, missing much sleep; placing my needs before his own. Just as we are called to do.
Soli Deo Gloria!