man brings trouble on himself." (Proverbs 11:17 NIV)
The New Revised Standard Version reads:
"Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm."The New Living Translation reads:
"Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel."Are you being kind to yourself or are you being harmful? The Lord cares about how you treat you. Today would be a good day to give yourself a break, maybe cut yourself some slack and do something nice for you.
Jesus' two-fold law of love reads,
To abide in Christ and to walk with Him means to walk in love. Loving God should be our first and most important duty and delight. Our second duty is important too: We must love our neighbors, essentially everybody else on the planet, as we love ourselves. It is obvious here that we must first love self before we can love anyone else. We should honor, care for, be forgiving toward, use gracious self-talk regarding, and be kind to ourselves, and then to others around us."Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30 NIV)"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31 NIV)
Self-denial is not a bad thing, for it was encouraged by Jesus Himself (Luke 9:23). But it can be damaging if taken to the extreme, or used outside the context of godly discipleship, or used as a law to punish the flesh and/or self-nature, or used in a way that frustrates or punishes others. It is just as important and biblically sound to be kind to the flesh and soul—but not so kind or soft as to allow the flesh-nature to become an idol or a self-absorbed monster.
Today might be a good day to regroup, rethink, or maybe take a deep breath and choose kindness toward self.
To you who are over-disciplined or rigid, maybe you should go shopping today and buy yourself a nonessential: some perfume or cologne, a new pair of flip-flops, a worship CD, some fishing tackle, or maybe a goofy hat; just because you want to. Perhaps at lunch you can eat a few more bites than is normal, or you can splurge on that rich chocolate dessert you usually ignore. (And then later in the day refuse guilt when it comes knocking on your stomach lining). Perhaps you can stop at the video store and rent a silly romantic comedy and watch it while relaxing in a bubbly tub. It's important to be kind to yourself from time to time. Why not today?
To those of you who are under-disciplined and your incautious lifestyle has caused you harm, maybe you should make some choices and some plans for your well-being. Why not stop smoking, stop overeating and/or undernourishing your body with the wrong kind of food? Why not let go of that unforgiveness, worry or fear, lose those few extra pounds, or start doing whatever sort of exercise that would get your heart pumping? Maybe now would be a good time to start a disciplined prayer life or a Bible reading discipline. Why not be kind to yourself and put your life on a track that will help and no longer harm you?
King Solomon said, "Those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm." (Proverbs 11:17 NRSV). Today seems like as good a day as any to take Solomon's wise advice.