You must take care of yourself to take care of others. Don’t be a casualty of your desire to help people. Heed this powerful reminder.
Song of Solomon 1:6 “Look not upon me, because I am black, Because the sun hath looked upon me: My mother’s children were angry with me; They made me the keeper of the vineyards; But mine own vineyard have I not kept.”
This verse speaks of a woman who was a servant. She had responsibility and worked hard. Her skin was darkened from long days in the sun. She helped others to the detriment of her own responsibilities, yet people were still unhappy with her. Sound familiar? This scenario has played out many times over throughout history.
You must take care of yourself to help other people!
There are two extreme attitudes when discussing life’s responsibilities and helping others.
Some people take care of themselves to the exclusion of others. They feel they need to be “first.” It matters most what they need, feel and want.
Our sinful nature predisposes us to selfishness. The world teaches you to “love yourself.” I don’t think that is really a problem. Most people love themselves too much! The Bible confirms this in Ephesians 5:29
“For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”
Self-loathing or hatred is usually a result of sin. Either sin we have committed or sins committed against us.
Ezekiel 20:43 “And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.”
Job 42:6 “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Repentance and forgiveness release you from the unnatural feelings of self-hatred. God loves you. Are your standards higher than His? Of course not. Jesus Christ paid for your sin. Give it to Him and be cleansed. 1 John 1:9
Most people have the problem of selfishness. They love themselves above God and man. This is sin and causes a multitude of challenges.
We must love God first, then others, then ourselves. Jesus, Others and You – what a wonderful way to spell joy! That’s not just a cute chorus for children. It is a Biblical principle to live by.
Other people focus so much on helping others that they neglect to care for themselves. These people eventually break down not being able to help anyone.
As we see in the text verse, these people are often hard workers with many responsibilities. They feel the need to help others so much that they don’t take the time to make sure they are healthy in body, soul, and spirit. They break down and burn out. Life is full of examples.
Allow me to give a personal testimony. When my wife, Sarah, became deathly ill with autoimmune diseases, it turned our lives upside down. All she ever wanted to be was a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife. She excelled at all three. Yet, her condition has not allowed her to fulfill those roles in a traditional way. At times, I had to be dad, caregiver, health advocate, and mom (cook, clean, watch/train kids, etc.) while trying to fulfill my responsibilities as a man, Christian, and pastor. I would run myself into the ground trying to help everybody. I would get sick. I would run out of gas physically, mentally, emotionally and sometimes spiritually. I did not sleep enough. I didn’t eat right. I took no time for hobbies or outlets. That was ok for awhile. But God has chosen not to heal Sarah yet. She has been very sick for eight years. She has spent the past three years bed bound 99% of the time while in constant, severe pain. It is only by God’s grace that we have survived. God’s Grace is sufficient!
Finally, I learned the lesson that I teach you today. I had to make sure that I was healthy enough to help those around me and fulfill my responsibilities to God and man.
Let me give you some advice that will help you take care of yourself so that you can help others.
Lazy people sleep too much. Servants don’t sleep enough. Don’t stay up late watching tv or playing on your phone. Go to sleep! Get 7-9 hours a night. Know your body. Schedule a guilt-free nap if your schedule doesn’t allow that many hours at night. You will feel better and get more done during waking hours.
Stop eating junk. It robs you of energy and joy. Shop around the edges of the supermarket buying fruit, vegetables, and meat. Reduce simple carbs and sugars. Drink A LOT of water. Many people are chronically dehydrated and don’t realize it.
Exercise not only helps you physically but also burns emotional energy. It will help you keep emotions like anger, depression, and anxiety in check.
You don’t need a gym membership to start exercising. Do some medium intensity stretching. Learn some bodyweight exercises. Do a 5-minute abdominal routine. Get a free treadmill or elliptical from someone that doesn’t use it anymore. Better yet, walk a mile outside every day. There are many options. Stop making excuses and do it.
Schedule Family Time.
Don’t neglect your family. Love them. Lead them in the ways of righteousness. Fill your home with God, joy and laughter. Invest in them and they will fulfill you 100 fold.
Have a hobby.
Don’t act like working all the time is “extra” spiritual. Take time to sharpen your ax. You’ll get more done. Find something that you enjoy and do it. Read a book. Go hiking. Ride a bike. Learn a new skill. Go fishing or hunting. The possibilities are endless.
Walk with God.
This is not a platitude. It is essential! Meet God in the morning through prayer and Bible reading. Be aware of Him all day long. Pray without ceasing. Your outward man may wilt under the pressures of life, but the inward can be continuously renewed giving you the victory! 2 Corinthians 4:16