If you don’t look out for number one, then you will fall by the wayside. Don’t expect anyone else to do it. Let me ask, “If you don’t do it, then who will?” Who is going to take care of you? I’m thinking nobody.
Your best course of action is to look out for yourself. Make you the number one priority in your life. It’s wise and biblically smart. Of course, I’m speaking of number one under God.
We all know the LORD is number one in our Book and nobody will supplant His throne-entitled position. My thoughts assume you have the LORD as number one, right? We’re talking exclusively about the human kingdom here. This means you’re the top dog.
I’m curious. As you read the first three paragraphs, which world view were you using to filter your thoughts? This is not a trick question. I’m curious. And serious. It would be good for you to think about what you were thinking about when you read what you read.
No doubt the world holds to a tenacious self-esteem, which touts a high view of self. It’s an individualized world view where the top dog eats all the other dogs in the mad dash to the top of the ladder.
They have an intense world view that promotes a “to each his own” turf war where competition is good, especially when the other person is defeated. That is not what I was thinking at all.
From a biblio-centric point of view, I meant you should look out for number one. Why? If you don’t take care of yourself, you will reduce your effectiveness in fulfilling the high calling the LORD has placed on your life.
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 first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
Eleven-hundred-eighty-nine chapters reduced to four words: love God, love others. If you can successfully pull that off, you will have the most fantastic life known to man.
Of course, I’m excluding Jesus here, because He had the most fantastic life known to man. Except for Him, you could have the next most fantastic life known to man. The question then becomes, “How can you successfully pull this off?”
The obvious answer is you’d better look out for number one. If you don’t, you will seriously weakened your effectiveness in God’s world. The only way you can successfully pull off a robust Christian life is to take care of yourself.
Caveat – I’m not factoring in the grace of God in this discussion on purpose. It is understood that apart from God’s grace and our vital union with Christ, we can do absolutely nothing. (cf. John 15:1-5)
The LORD can and will use the weak things in this world to confound the mighty and He will use the foolish things in this world to stump the intelligentsia (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). That does not mean you should see how weak and foolish you can become in order to do mighty things for the LORD.
I’m having a human responsibility discussion with you. I’m not discounting the sovereignty of God or the grace of God. I’m just not talking about those two essential, beautiful, and stunning aspects of the Christian life in this piece. I’m talking about you and me.
- What is your role in fulfilling the greatest commission ever given?
- How are you stewarding yourself in your faith walk?
- What are you doing to keep yourself in optimal spiritual and physical shape so you can do your part in cooperating with God’s grace and God’s power?
That’s what I’m talking about.
The first thing to think about is your motive. Our life flows out of our hearts. This makes our hearts our starting point in the discussion about human responsibility in fulfilling the two great commandments (Proverbs 4:23).
What is your motive to take care of yourself? The world’s motive to be physically and spiritually fit so they can be rich, famous, whole, healthy, smart, or whatever other tertiary value they place on why they do things.
The Christian’s motive to be physically and spiritually fit is so we can love God and others in the most effective way possible. This is why we call such things world views. They are worlds apart.
Is your highest priority in your life to love God and love others? I’m going to assume it is. And if so, let’s move on to my next point: how are you taking care of yourself so you can fulfill this unbelievably fantastic opportunity?
Stewarding the dichotomy
We are two parts—physical and spiritual or material and immaterial or organic and non-organic. In order to fulfill the two greatest commandments it’s essential we take care of both parts.
This is a common sense thing. It’s like a car or any other thing we treasure. If you want that thing to fulfill its optimal capacity and expectation, then you take care of it. Now, I suppose most people reading this are going to expect a few paragraphs on doing your devotions, praying every day, reading your Bible, and those kind of things.
Let’s assume we already know this. Let’s further assume you are doing these things. If you’re not, I don’t need to spend time making a case for it. The case has already been made by the Spirit of God in your heart and there is nothing else for me to say other than just do it.
What about some other areas that don’t receive as much prime time? I can think of few things that trip us up and cause us to face plant in our sanctification. Not giving the LORD props through Bible reading and prayer time are not the only things we can mishandle.
One of the biggest hindrances to fulfilling a comprehensive and robust Christ life is the pace in which we live our lives. Time management, calendar planning, and general busyness are not within most Christian’s wheelhouses.
The tyranny of the urgent or the cares of life (Mark 4:19; Luke 21:34) have so encroached into our living space that Christ has had to take a back seat. There used to be a time when teenagers were being equipped to live for Christ in God’s world as adults.
Today they are being carted off to never-ending sporting events and other things that most of them will leave in their teenage years, only to pick up again when they have their own teenagers.
I’m not throwing these events under the activity bus, unless these events don’t flow into your loving God and loving others the most schematic for doing life. There is nothing wrong with events in and of themselves. There is something wrong with them if they are part of the reason you ain’t got no time left in your day or week.
If the child-centered home is not dominating our schedules, then materialism has usurped our calendar space. The newest and latest desire has made us slaves to our jobs, to where God can only get a Sunday morning courtesy nod.
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
We have become Gentile seeking enthusiasts, who no longer know how to trust the LORD for our daily bread. We want what others have and overtime has become the means to secure our moth food (Matthew 6:19).
“I’m too busy” is one of the biggest deterrents to the sanctified life. This is one of the more remarkable things about the life of Christ. Nobody had a todo list like His–though He had only one item on it: Savior of the world (John 1:29; Luke 19:10). Yet, He always had time. He did not over-extend Himself. He knew how to pace His life. He learned the value of saying “No.”
Just say, “No”
So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. – John 11:6 (ESV)
The Savior did not seem to struggle with turning people down or turning them away (Matthew 12:48). There were two main reasons He could respond this way. (1) He did not struggle with fear of man and (2) He had His priorities in order.
If you struggle with fear of man or if you don’t have biblical priorities, you will not be able to say “no” to others and, thus, you will become a frustrated slave to the agenda of other people. Your “yes” will not mean “yes” and your “no” will not mean “no”.
Your friends will run your life if you let them. Jesus had no problem not doing what was asked of Him because the person who controlled Him was His Father, not those who lived within His sphere of influence.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. – John 6:38 (ESV)
Who controls you? Who runs your calendar? This is a two-part tension. You not only should be free from the power of others, but you must have clear priorities. People-freedom releases you to do what you want to do and God-priorities manages what you are to do. Jesus was free from the fear of others and He was always ready to do His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).
He had a travel plan. If you don’t have one of these, you’ll go whichever way the wind blows. Jesus knew where He was going (Luke 9:51). This gave Him a filter through which to make decisions.
He lived in the perfect balance between structure and spontaneity. He was not so structured that the Spirit could not work in His life (Matthew 14:13-21) and He was not so spontaneous that He could not fulfill His highest calling (Matthew 14:22-23).
Christians should be the most motivated people on the planet to take care of themselves. This is where the world out-shines us. They pursue health like there is no tomorrow. We should pursue health because there is a tomorrow.
We have the most profound message that has ever been given to the world. From a human responsibility perspective we should be zealous about taking care of our bodies so we can maximize the opportunities and possibilities of communicating this great message to the world.
But we don’t take care of ourselves. We don’t eat the right foods. We don’t get enough rest. We don’t exercise our bodies. The result has left us breaking down. There has never been an age where the information about our fearfully and wonderfully made bodies has been more plenteous (Psalm 139:14).
We should be spoiling the Egyptians by taking their knowledge and using it to take better care of our bodies so we can be more productive in God’s mission field (Exodus 12:36).
Our bodies belong to God. What we have is a gift from Him. How we steward our bodies is not a trifling thing. Taking care of ourselves should be of utmost importance.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. – I Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)
It is presumption against God’s grace to not steward ourselves well (Psalm 19:13). The LORD has given us one body, one life, and one shot to put Him on display. This is a call to action.
Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! – Psalm 34:3 (ESV)
The more effective we take care of ourselves, the more effective we will be in God’s kingdom. Let me reiterate: I’m speaking from a human responsibility perspective.
I know God’s grace can overcome all of our inabilities and inadequacies. I also know we are not to take His grace for granted (Matthew 25:14-30). We are always to live in cooperation with the LORD. He does His part and we are to do ours.
- Do you take care of your body—the spiritual and the physical?
- How are you stewarding yourself?
- Do you see the value of looking out for number one?
- How could you be more effective in God’s world if you took better charge of your life?
The way to begin reorienting your life is to clearly identify what you value. Wherever you place your treasure, you will find your heart already there (Matthew 6:21). What do you cherish most of all?
There are several good ways to answer this question. The way I answer it is by the use of the word sanctification. In the context of this article, that is what I value most of all. The more effectively I can live for God, the more effective I will be able to put Him on display, while loving others more than myself–by and because of the grace of God.
This places a high call on me to take care of myself. My desire is to live my fullest for God and others. To do that, looking out for number one becomes a high value.