When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to Him, and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
When Jesus saw the crowd around Him, He gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. (Matthew 8: 14-18)
Well, in answer to the question in the title, Jesus did it. And He did not wait until all were healed, delivered, and whole. Oh, He’d already been engaged in the intense work of ministering to needy people. But please notice that people were still clamoring for His touch when He told the disciples, “Let’s leave and cross over to the other side of the lake.” Jesus needed to get away.
In my past, I’ve made some pretty big mistakes around failing to take care of myself. Oh, being attentive to others’ needs? I’m your girl. I’ll wear myself out doing it. But somehow, it seemed to me that time for myself or just doing something that I wanted to do was selfish. I’ve learned the fallacy of this belief as the years have passed.
From talking with thousands of clients over the years, I do not believe that I was alone in holding the hidden belief that pulling away and “doing something for yourself” is “being selfish.” My clients will say, “I know I’m being selfish, but I just need some ‘me time.'”
But is this the definition of selfishness? If so, then Jesus was selfish – and He wasn’t. He regularly took time away from the needy crowds to spend time alone with the Father. Jesus set limits with people. Even though there were still many with needs, and He took the time to replenish Himself spiritually and emotionally. He had learned an important life secret, which I will share with you shortly.
So if selfish is not defined as “taking care of yourself,” then what is it? At what point would you become a selfish person? Selfishness is the consistent pattern of focusing on yourself at the expense of others. You’ve met truly self-centered people, and it’s not fun. And to tell you the truth, if you’re worried about whether this or that is a little selfish, you’re probably not. The truly selfish either have no self-awareness or don’t care!
Back to Jesus; what secret had He learned? He knew that taking care of yourself may be one of the most unselfish things you can do. Why is that? If you break down and burn out, you’ll be able to help no one. If you don’t set boundaries and the little resentments about your tiring interactions grow, your attitude will be grouchy. If you don’t refuel and replenish, you’ll become exhausted and irritable – and an ineffective helper. If Jesus needed daily (or more often) replenishment, on what-on-earth basis would you and I believe we didn’t need it even more?
Release the guilt about doing what it takes to take care of yourself. It’s one of the most unselfish and spiritually-healthy things you can do!
Lord, You told me to love my neighbor as I love myself. But I often fall down on that last part. Holy Spirit, please remind me when I’m neglecting Your temple, my body. I invite You to produce Your fruit within me to help me manage my emotions. You’ve given me “myself” to steward so that I can be used to help others for a long time to come. I don’t want to neglect any part of my job.