Looking Out for Number One
Bible Reading: Mark 12:28-34
I know it is important to love [God] with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbors as myself. Mark 12:33
A GROSSLY overweight and out-of-shape mall security guard receives an emergency call on his radio. A girl is being assaulted at the other end of the mall. The guard runs as fast as he can to help her out, but his body rebels against such a strenuous workout. Halfway to the emergency, the guard drops dead of a heart attack. The girl he might have saved is beaten to death.
Obvious lesson: The guard’s neglect of his own physical health cost him his life and resulted in another life lost. Had he cared about himself more, he might have lived to save the girl.
Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves (see Matthew 22:39), revealing that proper self-love equips us to love others. The security guard is a simple illustration of why self-love is important.
Self-love means—as flight attendants remind you before every flight—that you put on your own oxygen mask first before you help a child with his or her mask. If you don’t first put on your mask, you might keel over, leaving the child without any help. Self-love means eating and exercising properly in order to extend your life for the sake of people you serve. Self-love means investing time and effort in your own spiritual growth so you are prepared to minister to others. Only as you love and care for yourself are you equipped to love and care for others as Christ commanded you.
Self-love also means protecting yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially from anything that might undo you.
Physically, you buckle up in the car, look both ways when you cross the street, refuse to abuse substances, and keep your kitchen free of crawly things.
Mentally, you guard your mind when you turn away from negative reading material, TV programs, videos, music, and movies.
Spiritually, you build yourself up by filling your heart with Scripture, holding yourself accountable to others for spiritual growth, and standing against Satan’s attempts to discourage you from serving Christ.
Socially, you stay out of situations where your ability to be a good influence crumbles under pressure to do wrong.
Anything less than cautiously, wisely caring for yourself in areas like these is less than the healthy love God expects you to show yourself. And remember: You can love and accept yourself because that’s how God relates to you.
REFLECT: What are you doing to love yourself wisely?
PRAY: Tell God you’re glad he thinks you’re worth taking care of.