You have a relationship with yourself. Jesus knew that and so he said, “love your neighbor as yourself.” He also said, “take up your cross deny yourself and follow me.” So which one should we do? Both. In fact doing one empowers us to do the other. Whether we know it or not we have a relationship with ourselves. Whether we speak out loud to ourselves or not we have an ongoing conversation with ourselves so we might as well be nice. Self Neglect is not denying yourself. Denying yourself is putting away sinful thoughts, speech and actions that lead to bad habits and harmful consequences. If you neglect yourself long enough you will not have the strength to deny yourself. Let me give you a practical example. I will use myself so as to not project my issue on you. If I wait too long to eat, I will most likely over eat or eat something that is unhealthy do to the level of hunger that I am feeling at the time. If I don’t neglect myself and I prepare for my day by having a healthy snack with me chances are a lot higher that I will not over eat and that I will probably eat something healthy. So preparing a healthy snack such as cashews or almonds is a practical way that I can love myself. Because I am not neglecting myself, I am positing myself not to eat two slices of pizza while I am out and about. Sometimes loving yourself is just thinking ahead and being prepared to make better choices that you won’t regret later. The more we care for ourselves now, the less regret we will have later. I have never regretted drinking a protein shake, however I have regretted drinking a huge milkshake.
Many people think they are denying themselves when actually they are neglecting themselves. Jesus is the most amazing example of someone who did not neglect himself, but did denied himself so much that he never even sinned once. Not in thought, word or action. He knew exactly what he needed to do so that he could do what God was requiring him to do. We need to learn from his example. There were times where the disciples were sleeping and Jesus was praying. There were other times when the disciples were up wide awake and afraid in a storm, but Jesus was sleeping. If you love yourself, you will take care of yourself and that will allow you to deny yourself in other areas of life when temptations come. This is not about finger pointing its about soul searching. Being rested and prayerful will make you better able to care for yourself and deny yourself.
I will leave you with 3 questions that will help you turn this blog post into an action plan that will help you make progress in your own life.
- What is a practical way that you can love yourself today? (This must be productive, not destructive.)
- Is there an area in your life that you need to deny yourself?
- Is there an area in your life where you have been neglecting yourself?
Remember to care for yourself, invest in yourself and deny yourserlf. You are valuable, you matter!