Speaking of Loving Yourself
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
Of all the themes preached from pulpits and other media every week, there are few that directly emphasize how to be good to one’s self. Many messages imply the need to be aware of your basic needs and address them, like sleep, healthy eating and so forth, but few talk about the essentially important and Godly summons to each of us as believers to take time to treat ourselves to those things that make for healthy, joy-filled, refreshing and renewing; to engage in activities that refresh and renew us physically, mentally and emotionally.
Now there are all kinds of things in the world that teach nothing else than selfish pursuits of baser pleasures or enjoyment purely to satisfy fleshly desires of greed, avarice and wanton extravagance. And it is sometimes hard for believers to think, in that cultural environment, that God doesn’t also want His people to be engaged in things likewise. He does not.
What God does call us to is a healthy recognition that we are human and our humanity needs the same things all other human beings need for good mental, physical and emotional well being. To neglect our selves, even in the pursuit of helping others, is only sustainable for brief periods of time. Then we need to rest, recoup and reinvigorate.
The Scripture calls them times of refreshing.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” Acts 3:19
“Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.” Exodus 23:12
After forty days of temptation and fasting in the desert Jesus needed to be refreshed. So, God sent angels to attend Him.
“Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.” Matthew 4:10-11
After seven days of creating the Heavens and the earth, the Scriptures tell us that Jesus (God the Lord) rested and was refreshed.
“It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." Exodus 31:17
How much more, then do we need to be refreshed from time to time? If we are to love others as God has loved us we will need to be at our best energies and strength. We rightly regularly feed our spirits with the Word of God through regular worship, church attendance and Bible study. We need also to feed our bodies well, to exercise regularly, to recreate and to engage in invigorating activities that bring us joy and laughter, things that engage our minds and souls with life affirming activity and conversations of higher purpose, of beauty and expressions of Godly creativity.
Likewise, we also need times of quiet reflection on the Word of God, the beauty of creation, the gratitude we have for the goodness of God, and the promise of a future filled with His love and glory. It’s also good just to sit quietly and do nothing for a time. All these refresh the soul, renew the mind and strengthen the spirit.
God gives us permission to be good to our selves without doubt or guilt or reservation.
When we were children my dad would tell us, from time to time, that the key to a happy life was to work smart, play hard and rest easy. That was how he lived.
God wants us to be refreshed not just once and while but continually being renewed by His Spirit working in us. Likewise, when our minds and bodies reach the limit of their focus, concentration and energy, we need to take the time to be refreshed.
If you haven’t done so for a while I exhort you, as God provides, to spend some good time refreshing yourself. It’s ok. It’s even more so a commandment. Love your neighbor as your self. You are generous and kind toward your neighbor, then also be generous and kind toward your self.