A message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH for Sunday, October 17, 2021.
For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, click here.
There are some things in life that are good for us, and there are others that are just not beneficial. I’ll add to this by stating that you have the ability to control the content that you take in each day. For example, you may be watching a television program, and while you may not care what program you’re looking at, you notice that the program content is not what you want to see; therefore, you change the channel to find something better, or even turn off the TV altogether. For those of us still listening to the radio, we do the same thing when we start to hear too many commercials. Ultimately, we have the final say as to the content that we consume.
I’ve shared this information publicly and privately before, but last year, I determined that I no longer would watch the morning news because it no longer provided me what I needed to start my day. I determined that if I want to control the environment that best suited my mental health and well-being, then I had to stop watching the news. The news was largely negative; therefore, it was deemed no longer valuable for information. I changed the channel and started watching game shows as early as 8:00 AM. (I don’t expect everyone to follow my lead or my example on this, especially if you’re a news junkie, but I’m offering to you, unsolicited of course, what works best for me.) I started watching Buzzr, which is the network that carries old-time game shows, and I had it on virtually all day long until late in the afternoon. It was mostly background noise because I was at work, but watching Buzzr was much more positive than watching the news, which in my opinion, has been outright awful, depressing, and only created anxiety. Watching Buzzr has worked so well in my home that my wife also watches it with me while she is working, and she gets on me now because she also really enjoys it and likes Supermarket Sweep. Every now and then, she would exclaim, “Do you see what you’ve done to me?!”
On those days when I had to go into the office, I started watching early morning Buzzr programming, and I found a program that is on their schedule every morning at 7:00 AM that my wife and I both like to watch. We sit for a moment and look at the program Through the Bible with Les Feldick.1 I had never heard of Les Feldick, but his program is still making the rounds in syndication. It is a 30-minute, commercial-free Bible class that goes chapter and verse through the entire Bible. He recorded 984 episodes from 1990 to 2009, and if you can’t get the program, you can listen to it online or read the 82 books that have the transcripts of the programs. This program was a great find in the morning to start my day (way better than watching the news, by the way), and it gives emphasis to a more detailed reading with instruction of God’s Word.
If it weren’t for turning off the news and turning on Buzzr in the first place, I never would have found Les Feldick.
I have said all of this to emphasize that there are some things that a believer in Jesus Christ should avoid if it causes you stress or anxiety, and there are a number of alternatives where, following the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we should readily run to and embrace those things that are beneficial to our own well-being. We should be running towards God’s Word and His teaching while running away from those things that just aren’t good for us.
If you examine your life as it is right now, where do you believe you are? Are you asking, seeking and knocking for God’s wisdom, or are you accepting the world’s status quo of unhelpful information? This is a matter of taking not just better physical care of yourself, but better mental care. It’s all under the category of personal care, because no one can be more responsible for self-care than you. Better self-care is better soul care.
It’s not a selfish thing to take care of yourself. I don’t know where that line of thinking has come from, but I find that it comes from the thought of being a servant for Jesus, but it grows further as one deems it necessary to have a self-sacrificing attitude to the detriment of personal well-being. Well, I’m here to tell you that this is a lie from Satan. Even God shows us very early on in Scripture about the value of rest.
Genesis 2:1-3 ESV
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
An important element of self-care is rest. We may neglect ourselves in self-care when we should be doing the exact opposite.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT
19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
Caring for yourself is just as vital as caring for others.
Now, I’m making this point because it was made very clear to me that as we are charged, as believers in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, with being ready to minister to others, it would be a mistake to avoid the subject of taking care of yourself. If you fail to honor God with your body you, then you are not recognizing the value that God has placed upon you. Jesus died on the cross as payment to settle, for all time, the penalty of sin for your life. The price that He paid for you was very great, and He deemed you worthy of His personal sacrifice. Jesus does not expect for you to pay Him back for this, but He does ask that each of us honors Him with our good and acceptable behavior as we live for Him.
Romans 12:1-2 NLT
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Let’s look at Romans 12:1-2 with the understanding that we do not act on the words of Jesus Christ as if we are trying to repay Him for what He has done. Our servanthood is not out of obligation, but one of gratitude and love for what Christ has done for us. And through this process, we are being sanctified and transformed to live and discern what is best for us as we trust in Him.
Caring for yourself in the proper manner lends to the proper care and attention for others.
So now that we understand that it is up to you and me, as individuals, to live in such a manner that we honor Jesus Christ in our words and actions, we can be better equipped to speak to others about the goodness of Jesus Christ. I’ll go one step further and express that each one of us is called by God to speak His truth to others. We’re certainly not perfect on our own accord. Jesus is our perfection as He transforms us, and He deems us as pleasing and acceptable as we honor Him and speak His truth to others.
Now, the thought of speaking to others may not make some of us very comfortable because of the very idea that words must be uttered out loud to someone else, but it is the truth of Jesus that must come forth from all who declare Him as Lord and Savior. The Spirit will give the strength and ability to those who are shy and soft-spoken to speak about His goodness.
Let’s now consider that our desire to hear more from Jesus Christ and to live for Him is based on the foundation of a love relationship with Him. We love and serve Him because He first loved us. We serve Him because it is natural for those who love Him to do so. We need to share this love that He has for us with others.
So, we need to start with who we are as we learn to care for others. Caring for yourself allows you to be your best at caring for others.
This is the heart and essence of effective ministry.
Why are we making a reference to self-care before caring for others? The answer is reflective of the summary of all of the law and the prophets that Jesus mentions in the next passage. I challenge everyone to consider that while we serve others, it still comes back to a recognition of the importance of love and believing in Jesus Christ FIRST as we love others:
Matthew 22:34-40 ESV
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Do you see where the love of God—the love of Jesus—comes before everything else, and it is a requirement of effective ministry. Loving Jesus requires self-reflection, a defining of self-purpose, and a commitment to honor Jesus Christ in selflessness for His sacrifice for us. Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us and for what He represents to us, we are readily obedient to His Word and we live in such a manner where we go to Him as we cast our cares upon Him:
1 Peter 5:7 NIV
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Matthew 6:25-33 NASB
25 “For this reason I (Jesus) say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? 27 And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.
Matthew Chapter 6 is all about prayer, caring and looking after yourself, and taking ownership of your behavior. Take a closer look at the entire chapter and look at what Jesus is teaching us here. It is all about taking care of your own business before you minister to others.
Don’t fall into the trap where you dismiss how you are feeling or how you are doing for the sake of “staying busy” in Jesus. If you’re not taking the proper care of yourself, as His Word commands, and if you’re just trying to impress others by how much you are doing, it will not stand for long. We are not to serve Jesus to impress others. We serve Him out of love and devotion for Him.
If you see where this is going, then it should become second nature that all believers must act in TOTAL obedience to His Word. It’s for our own good that we make sure that we are humble in our prayers and plentiful with our praise as He energizes us for service.
Believers in Jesus Christ are to live as people of action. We move in His name in order to move people towards the Kingdom of God.
Paul refers to our actions as believers with the analogy of running a race:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
In our running of the race, we are to run to God as we are running this race for Him. It is an analogy that we are applying spiritually because Paul mentions that we are pursuing an everlasting prize. At the appointed time, all believers in Jesus Christ will receive that prize, but we don’t live in such a way where we take it for granted.
We are to keep running. We are spiritual runners. We are running to obtain the prize. Runners are always in training to get better and build endurance. When we stay in the Word of God and perform self-care in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are always prepared to run well for the prize.
Hebrews 12:1-2a NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Take good care of yourself. Take things in that are good for you. Move things out of your life that are unhelpful or unhealthy for your mental approach. Get in shape and stay in shape as you are sanctified by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Run to Jesus as you run for Jesus. He will take care of you.
Copyright © 2021 Melvin Gaines.
1 Through the Bible with Les Feldick. (2019). Lesfeldick.org. http://lesfeldick.org/