This week, one of my Sunday School teachers from when I was a little boy sent me an encouragement message. I know the Lord directed her because I could tell it was a word from the Lord. She encouraged me to be still and allow the Lord to do what He needed to in this season of difficulty.
It got me thinking how reckless I live. If I am not careful, I do not take care of my time, I do not take care of my marriage, I do not take care of my health and ultimately, each of these is a reflection of not taking care of my spiritual life as I should.
I think most of us feel a sense of guilt when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Because we feel the need to put others first, we put ourselves last. My goal in writing this is to show you that it is not sinful to care for yourself. Even flight attendants instruct us that if there is a crisis on a flight, you are to put your own oxygen mask on before you help someone else…even your own children!
Now is their instruction selfish? No! How can you help someone if you cannot help yourself? Many people are living life taking care of everyone else, except themselves. They run the risk of eventually burning out from exhaustion.
Here are four practical areas you should pay close attention to.
Take Care of Your Spiritual Life
Life is so demanding, it is easy to neglect your spiritual life. However, if you are going to live in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, your spiritual growth is an area of life you cannot afford to overlook.
When Peter closes his last letter to the Church, he instructs us, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). The greatest way you can grow in your spiritual life is to grow in your “knowledge” of Jesus! A good spiritual principle to remember is that you are only as strong as your knowledge in the Lord.
For example, how are you wearing the Armor of God if you do not know all the pieces of God’s Armor found in Ephesians 6? How is your life producing the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5), if you do not even know what they are?
So in all of your busyness, make sure that spiritual growth is a priority. The only way it will happen is when you make sure it happens by taking care of your spiritual life.
Take Care of Your Marriage
If there is anything that is neglected in our day to day life, it often seems to be our marriages. The person who is serious about walking with the Lord will not be able to neglect his or her marriage. It is such a vital part of spiritual health.
Paul gives us a picture of what a Christian marriage should be in Ephesians 5:22-23. It is a difficult passage for our culture to understand. It is difficult, not because of what it teaches, but because it is in direct opposition to the me-centered culture of today.
Let us read it carefully and consider its timeless truths, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
If our marriages are to be what God intends, then we cannot get this Scripture out of balance. Notice it does not say women are to submit to men. No, it says “wives submit to your own husbands.” I have used this Scripture in pre-marital counseling where the soon to be wife simply says, “I am not living like that.”
Again, the balance is key to making this Godly, Christ-centered picture of marriage work. Before the wife gets hung up on the “submission” part, note the responsibility of the man. The husband’s job is to love his wife the way Christ loves His Church. This means to live in a state of complete sacrifice. It means the husband put his wife first in everything.
The wisdom of God knows that when a husband truly loves his wife…loves her in a God-honoring, Biblical way that puts her first, then she is going to have no trouble following his heart and submitting to his leadership.
The problem is when husbands are not fulfilling the Biblical command to put his wife first. That is when the wife has trouble submitting to his leadership in the home. But if we (husbands and wives) will recognize that this is God’s original design for marriage, and work to fulfill it the best we can, then we can have healthy, God-honoring marriages. Are you caring for your marriage the way you should? Ask yourself if you are fulfilling the commands of Ephesians 5:22-23.
Take Care of Your Health
It is to fail in taking care of our health. If your life is like mine, I am on the go and eating correctly, exercising properly taking the rest my mind and body needs simply does not happen routinely.
The Bible has something to say about this. Compared to spiritual health, the Bible tells us that physical health profits little. “For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” 1 Timothy 4:8. While this is true, it is not saying we should neglect health and exercise altogether.
One day while pondering on Hebrews 9:27, I asked the Lord, “if there is an appointed day to my death, then why does it matter if I exercise or eat right?” He quickly answered and said, “Because I want you to have a good quality of life.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 would remind us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Yes, we can glorify God with our deeds, we can glorify God with our tongues, we can glorify God with our minds, but we should not neglect to glorify God with our bodies!
Take Care of Your Time
Some people cannot say, “No.” Perhaps you are one of them. I was in a management seminar a few years back, a manager was complaining to the class and our instruction that fellow co-workers kept barging into his office and asking him to take on responsibilities that were not in his job description.
When he asked our instructor what he could do to stop this type of behavior, I was shocked by the instructor’s straightforward answer. He said, “It is your fault that people do this to you.” He went on to explain that we teach people how to treat us.
This is a very real principle. You teach people how they can treat you! For some of you, you do not protect your time. People run all over you and dump their responsibilities on you. Your time is a precious commodity given by the Lord. Do not let other people squander it.
Colossians 4:5 instructs us to, “Make the best use of the time.” The old King James calls it, “Redeeming the time.” Does time slip through your fingers? Do others demand your time or waste your time? Take control and make sure your time is going to doing what God has called you to do, not what others expect you to do.