Several months ago, I sat down to read a brand-new book. Bound in a hot-pink cover with gold detailing and calligraphy all around, I was excited to dig into this very feminine-looking book about finding joy and simplicity. Plus, the author was a Christian, with many years of experience being a creator and a writer. What could go wrong with this book?
Well, the trouble started on page 20. The author wrote,
"In Galatians, we read, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself." (5:13-14) The last line of that passage is so powerful: love your neighbor as yourself. We usually think of that command as centered around others. But it's about us too. God is telling us to love, nurture, and care for ourselves and to love others that much as well. I don't know about you, but if I loved and nurtured my neighbor (or my children!) the same way I care for myself sometimes, I wouldn't be doing any of them a whole lot of good."
I almost dropped the book! I honestly couldn't believe what I had just read. The author had gotten that verse so very, very wrong. When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, he was telling them to stop indulging in fleshly desires. That even though they had freedom in Christ, they were not meant to use that freedom to be selfish, but to help others, to serve God, to have joy! Not to "help themselves before they can help others," but to help others before they help themselves! Unfortunately, the author of that hot-pink book twisted a beautiful verse about loving others, by making it a selfish verse about helping oneself.
What I read in that book is dangerous and I am going to call it out for what it is - false teaching. It is a teaching that is opposite to what the Bible teaches. And unfortunately, more and more Christian authors are pushing this kind of garbage down the throats of unsuspecting, innocent women. That is why we need to stay diligent to what the Bible says.
Christian authors may teach us to be selfish, but God teaches us to be self-less.
You see friends, the entire Bible is a call for us to not indulge ourselves, but to help other people, the way Christ Jesus did! Jesus is our example of how we should live. Do you think Jesus, EVER, in a million years said, "Sorry, I can't heal the people today. I need to get my beauty sleep," or, "Nah, I can't feed the multitudes today. I am too hungry myself," or, "I can't die on the cross today, it goes against my self-care routine"??? Of course He didn't! Jesus went out of His way, time and time again to help those who needed it. Jesus didn't have the luxury of being able to do what we think of as self-care. He was too busy traveling, preaching, feeding, loving, healing, and dying for the sins of everyone.
Am I saying that self-care is wrong? Of course not! Self-care in and of itself isn't wrong. In fact, I could argue that the whole Old Testament Law is a book of self-care. The Law tells us to take days off, celebrate special holidays, make feasts and eat joyously, to wash and bathe ourselves, to rest, to not eat foods that are bad for us, or do certain things that are unhealthy. On top of this, taking care of our bodies is good thing to do. We house God's Spirit within us and Jesus lives in our hearts! Taking care of ourselves is honoring to Him. We should be feeding ourselves properly, cleaning ourselves, exercising, spending time with friends and family, and taking days off... After all, all these things are outlined in the Bible, aren't they?
My point is, self-care is absolutely in the Bible as a healthy thing to do. However, it becomes a sin when we put it above other people, or say that we need to take better care of ourselves if we are meant to take care of others. We don't need to help ourselves in order to help other people. We need to have the mindset that we should be helping others FIRST, before we help ourselves.
Because that is what Jesus did.