Earlier this week, an acquaintance of mine brought up the concept of self-care—and it immediately occurred to me that this is not something often talked about by followers of Jesus. Despite the overwhelming message of grace in the new testament, we tend to focus mostly on analyzing rights and wrongs and what it means to live out His way. All good and necessary, of course, but as my friend points out, healthy and well-rested people tend to make healthier decisions. As we’ve previously discussed, constantly pushing to the limit of our willpower leads to burnout, which tends to lead back toward wasteful or self-destructive habits. So what can scripture tell us on this subject?

Followers of Jesus have a philosophy of self-care which seems backward at face value. Rather than caring first for ourselves so that we will be healthy enough to care for others, we are commanded, “love others as yourself.” In other words, to love our neighbors and ourselves equally. But our first concern is not for either neighbors our ourselves, but to “love the Lord your god with all your heart, mind, and strength.” It is in this spirit which we find rest, whether alone or with others.

But this is the sort of thing that is easy to hear, but not so obvious to practice. How does one go about applying this philosophy? I think a good start is to embrace rest and self-care—that was more or less the whole point of the sabbath, after all—but to consider our relationship with God as the most important aspect of our life and our rest.

Think of it like this: sometimes resting well is… not work, perhaps, but a deliberate effort. For example, when you have a day for yourself, you might veg in front of the TV with some soda and junk food, or you might reach out to good friends. You might watch something mindless and fun (not that that’s always bad), or you might turn to something that uplifts, inspires, or otherwise makes you feel. Even in rest, what’s easiest frequently isn’t what’s best.

I think we ought to think of relationship with God in this way. Rest is not only a break from labor, but a chance to seek after things that we find personally fulfilling, things that are good for the soul, you might say. And that doesn’t mean you can never do anything just for a bit of simple fun—I’m a big sports fan, myself. But when you find yourself badly in need of rest, it’s better to make sure you get the kind that will really restore you.

Have a blessed, wonderful day!

Dr. Alex Loyd



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