Self-care is a popular topic and an enormous industry nowadays — and that’s not all bad. We should take care of ourselves as we age. I’ve written quite a number of posts on this subject myself. Here, here, here, and here. But can I say: There’s a difference between loving yourself and worshiping yourself. A big difference.
At first glance, you may think I’m exaggerating, using the word worship. But then again, you’ve seen the magazine covers when waiting in the check-out line. Or noticed when someone you know seems to always have a personal agenda. Even healthy choices can get twisted to become very self-indulgent or self-centered.There's a difference between loving yourself and worshiping yourself. #selfcare Click To Tweet
First, it doesn’t do God, you, or others any favors if you don’t take care of yourself — spiritually, emotionally, and physically. You know what it’s like to try and help friends or family when your own well is running dry. As I talked about in an earlier post, you cannot adequately care for others when your own care is compromised. Thoughtful self-care is not an option if you want to live a fulfilling life.
Second, Jesus taught the present and eternal value of loving yourself. When asked what is the greatest commandment in the law, He responded:
” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind.‘
This is the great and foremost commandment.
The second is like it,
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.‘ ”
(Matthew 22:37-39 NASB)
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This line used to stump me. First, because I didn’t have the best self-esteem. And second, I’d always thought I was to prefer others above myself. And in many ways, I should. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another.*
But Jesus never promoted self-degradation. He honored life in Himself and others, equally. Godly self-care unveils God’s love for you, and positions you to truly love and empower others.Jesus never promoted self-degradation. #selfcare Click To Tweet
Loving Yourself vs. Worshiping Yourself
In Matthew 22:39 (above), love means “to have a preference for, wish well to, and regard the welfare of.”** It’s easier to think of this definition in relation to how you treat others. But what about yourself? How can you regard your own welfare in your thoughts, words, and actions? Here are a few suggestions. (Remember, these are toward yourself…)
- Believing the best.
- Living in a mindset that allows for exploration, growth, and change.
- Embracing and walking out who God has created you to be.
This may feel awkward at times. Even selfish.
But loving yourself as God loves you always overflows in generosity and love towards others.
In contrast, worshiping yourself is indeed selfish. It turns relationships into either a competition or a self-serving platform. A few warning signs:
- Your self-care comes at the expense of others.
- All focus, motivation, and concern is pointed inward.
- Other people, and even God, are seen as a means to fulfill your own wants or needs.
- Your stance is non-negotiable, even with those you say you care for.
Most of us have a little mix of the two, if we’re honest. We may not set out to lift our own wants or needs above God or others. But, because small choices can have life-changing (even eternal) consequences, it’s important to identify our heart posture when it comes to our self-care.
That’s what it really comes down to, after all — the heart.
Do I take care of myself because I want to honor the gift of life God has given me? Or am I lifting myself above God and others in the name of self-care? It’s worth asking.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.