Selfishness is an ugly word. And it’s not a great human trait, is it? God wants us to be more selfless, and we trust His way is best. So, how do we focus on taking care of ourselves without being, well, selfish? Is it possible? I’d say it’s not only possible for you to take care of yourself without being selfish—it’s a commandment from God Himself! There’s nothing selfish about it. In fact, if you want to serve others selflessly, you’d better take care of yourself! Here’s why.
In the Old Testament, God spent an extraordinary amount of time detailing His specifications for the temple, the place where His people would worship Him. It was to be made of the finest materials by the most gifted craftsmen. Only the clean, anointed, and chosen were allowed into the Holy of Holies, which was His dwelling place in the temple. Today, our bodies are His temple and the Holy of Holies is in our hearts and minds.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 explains that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, given to you by God. You are not your own. You were bought with a price (the brutal death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus). We’re supposed to glorify God with our bodies. They’re on loan so that we have what we need to learn, grow, and develop the soul each of us houses within it. God took great care and paid attention to detail when He knit you together, just as He took great care designing His temple. You are His masterpiece. What you allow into your mind, body, and soul either maintains or destroys the integrity of the temple He gave you to house your soul. How’s your temple doing?
According to 1 Thessalonians 5:23, our God who gives us peace wants us to be made holy in every way and our whole being—spirit, soul, and body—free from fault. This means that our temple, our whole being, is more than flesh and bones, more than our spirit alone, and more than a foundation in scriptural truth. Being whole physically is impossible if we are broken spiritually and emotionally. Likewise, being whole spiritually or emotionally doesn’t negate the need to care for our physical bodies.
When you’re trying to obediently take care of yourself—make sure you take care of the whole you! Here are some easy ways to take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
- Mind. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to guard our hearts above all else, since it determines the course of our lives. Everything we do flows from the heart, which represents our emotions and thoughts. Negative emotion begins with one thought. Focusing on the positives and leaving the negatives to God will bring us peace, according to Philippians 4:8-9. With a clear mind and peace in your heart, you have the capacity to achieve far more than you could have done carrying negativity with you like a safety blanket. Guard your heart.
- Body. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV. Our culture enjoys sweet and savory treats and conversation over expensive beverages served with piping hot pans of melted comfort. And surely God is pleased for us to enjoy our food and even enjoy times of feasting. But not all the time! God still asks us to observe periods of fasting, too. Are you giving your body the good fuel it needs to live the life God’s planned for you? Are you stuck in a rut of nothing but highly processed, minimally nutritious junk? Remember: We cannot serve God well if we’re slowly poisoning our bodies. Are you stuck in a pattern of overindulging or under-feeding—searching for something to satisfy a hunger only Jesus can fill? Consider how you’re nourishing the body God gave you.
- Spirit. In the fast-paced society we live in, it’s difficult to fit everything into our tight schedules. We must be sure not to abandon Jesus or fellowship with other followers of Christ as we strain to get everything accomplished. In Revelation 2, Jesus warns the Church of Ephesus not to cease to love Him or the Church as they once did. Set aside the time each day to spend with Jesus in prayer and reading His Word. Stay grounded in your faith by intentionally connecting with other believers on a weekly basis.
What steps has God given you to restore your temple? In Haggai 1:2-8, God’s temple was in ruins and He wanted it to be rebuilt. He challenged His people to consider their ways, go to the woods, and gather materials to rebuild the temple. He’s challenging you to consider your ways. Do they honor your body as His temple? Where can you go and what can you do to begin the process of rebuilding and restoring the temple He has given you? Imagine how many others you’ll be able to serve and care for selflessly, if you’re faithful to take care of yourself, too!