When I was a child, it was explained to me that if you put Jesus first, others second and yourself last, you would have “joy”. As an adult, I see how easy it is to get the sequence out of order. When that happens we end up with “ojy”, “yoj”, or even “jyo” instead of “joy”. Sometimes, as Christian women, we spend so much time putting Jesus and others first that we forget about ourselves and we end up with “jo”. Now “jo” may be better than “yoj”, but it still isn’t joy.
When Jesus spoke about the two greatest commandments in Matthew 22:37-28, He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” He didn’t tell us to love our neighbor INSTEAD of ourselves; He said to love our neighbor AS OURSELVES.
We as women have so many responsibilities. We take care of our husbands, our kids, our family schedules and/or finances, the house, our jobs, our church responsibilities, our community obligations, etc… Everyone seems to want something from us. But if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we have to love ourselves and give attention to our own needs as well.
There are two areas in our lives that we need to be careful not to neglect: spiritual and physical. Even though we are busy and so many things need to be done, we have to spend time with God through study and prayer on a daily basis. When we do this, we are reminded of God’s love for us. The Bible is full of God’s love and in Psalm 139: 13-14 we can read that God “created my inmost being; (He) knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise (Him) because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are God’s creation, He loves us and He would not want us to be neglected.
With our busy schedules, it can be very difficult to find the time to take care of our physical needs as well. We need to make sure we eat a healthy, balanced diet. We need to get regular exercise and be sure to have regular physical check-ups. In fact, we can learn in I Corinthians 3:16 that we are a living temple of God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” So, even though we do have our responsibilities and our commandments to love God first and others second, we cannot forget to take care of ourselves.
This summer, as you juggle summer break, family vacations and children's activities on top of your day to day responsibilities, remember the “y” in “joy”. Take some time each day to spend with God, eat wisely, and exercise regularly. If we take the time to find “joy” in our lives, we will be more capable of managing the demands that surround us.
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