It’s audio devo day! Have you been feeling worn out? If so, this one is for you. Snuggle into Jesus’ arms as you enjoy it here:
(Blessed by this? Know someone else that needs this encouragement? You can either share today’s blog link with them, or look up my Feeding on Jesus podcast for sharing and subscribing. You’ll find it on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and most other podcast platforms, with episodes identical to these!)
The other day, Holy Spirit reminded me of an acrostic I learned as a child in church:
J.O.Y. Joy. What do you think of this concept? Do you think that putting yourself last can really help cultivate the fruit of joy in your life?
There is definitely something to it. Let’s take a look at the biblical basis for this idea: “Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3, TPT).
Hm. Others as more important than yourself? Couldn’t such thinking lead to an unhealthy, low self-esteem? Here is where you need to get the whole context of the passage to understand it. Holy Spirit (through Paul) goes on in the following verses to hold Jesus up as our model for the attitude He is imparting to us.
Jesus, being in very nature God Himself, the supreme Ruler of the universe, humbled Himself even to the point of death. From fixing our eyes on Him, we can learn what “authentic humility” is. It’s not self-criticism nor self-hating. Rather, it’s the willingness to die.
If we are to live like Jesus on this earth, many times it will mean dying to our own preferences. It will mean letting the other person “win” when what they want doesn’t match what we want. Yes, Jesus was right when He promised, “Those who lose their life… will gain it.” When we are willing to let Holy Spirit put our self-will and pride to death, life results. The resurrection of Jesus produces authentic joy out of authentic humility. Jesus died “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). Then He resurrected and walked right into that joy! Although sometimes not quickly, joy always follows death to the self.
There is a flipside to this, though. So many of the truths in the Bible are parts of a bigger picture. They work in synergy with other, complementary truths from the Word. We need both the truth, and its complement, to understand the whole story.
For example, we need to know both how to rest in faith, and how to be spiritually “violent,” taking the Kingdom of Heaven by force. We need to know both how to be gentle as doves, and how to be wise as serpents. We need to know both how to walk in God’s authority with bold confidence, and how to walk in Jesus’ meek submissiveness. We need to know how to be exceedingly patient with our brothers’ and sisters’ weaknesses, and how to confront them in love when they are in spiritual danger.
So this discussion of joy is one of those cases. Yes, we absolutely do need to put others first. However, we also need to hear the corresponding complementary truth. It’s this: there are moments in your life when you need to put yourself first for a little while. There are days when you need to make nurturing your own soul and body your top priority. It’s just like on a plane when the flight attendant routinely announces the need to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. If you pass out trying to self-sacrifice, you won’t be able to do anything at all to help those around you. Likewise, in life, if you don’t take excellent care of yourself, you eventually won’t have anything left to give out to those who need you.
Let’s think for a moment on this verse: “No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. And that is what Christ does for the church, because we are parts of his body” (Eph. 5:29-30, NCV).
Here we see that we are not to hate our bodies, but to cherish them. Holy Spirit goes on to say that this is what Jesus does for us. He tenderly feeds and cares for us. Nourishing us and meeting our needs is an extremely high priority for Him. He asks for our partnership with Him in this cause. We will find, as we yield to His instruction to rest and practice self-kindness, there will be more room on the inside of us for the fruit of joy to grow and flourish. You see, self-nurturing is normative in Scripture. It’s part of our good stewardship of the life He has entrusted to us.
So yes. Both selflessness, AND self-care are essential for walking in joy. As we lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, joy will increase in our spirits. At the same time, as we carefully prioritize setting aside time for tending to our bodies and souls, joy will increase in our spirits. It’s both/and; not either/or. These are complementary truths. If we lose sight of one, or the other, we become unbalanced. We need to grow in both.
A concluding thought on this. Remember. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” applies to all the humans Jesus loves, including you. Learn to replenish yourself… even as you are learning to meet the needs of others in the spirit of true humility. And get ready… you are soon going to discover more JOY than you have ever known before!
For you personally, is there one of these two complementary truths that you feel you need to grow in more?