“…It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Galations 2:20).
Becoming more Christ-like means understanding our limits, growing in our strengths, and establishing boundaries that keep us healthy.
Jesus Had Needs:
He understood that if you want to love your neighbor, you must first learn to love yourself (Matt 22:39). I love how Dr. Brene Brown puts it:“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Jesus was not afraid to offend or disappoint others for the sake of staying healthy, focused on His mission, and loving people.
Basic Needs. He ate healthy foods, got the sleep he needed and even took naps, took time to relax, and did a lot of walking (Matt 4:6-7; 26:18, 20; John 12:2). We cannot neglect the need for daily energy that comes from food and drink. In my Masters program, I drank alot of coffee and did a whole lot of “forgetting to eat” because I was so focused on school. This unhealthy behavior led me to restless sleep, feelings of anxiety, and decreased energy. Take care of your physical body!
Support from Friends. He sought the company of friends (Matt 26:36-38). We were made to be in community with one another! Do you have someone you can call who will listen? Do you have people in your life that will be there through joyful and grieving seasons of life? Proverbs 18:1 states, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” In other words, isolation can make you self-focused and lead you to unhealthy choices that will end up hurting. You cannot grow, thrive, or even survive in isolation… but it is important to take some time alone.
Solitude. He withdrew from the crowds to go away on retreat, alone or with friends. Luke 6:12 says, “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” We need time to “fill back up” after we have spent our day “pouring out” at work, school, and with family & kids. It is in a place of quiet, resting, and solitude that we can find refreshment! This can be done with a few close friends… people that will encourage you, build you up, and “fill your love-tank” (Gary Chapman).
Singular Focus (This people, this place, this time). He left one city to go to another because he couldn’t be in two places at the same time (Mark 1:38). There is so much wisdom in staying “present-minded.” Yes we should dream about the future, and set goals for our lives, but if you do not stay grounded in the moment, you could miss an opportunity to give or receive love. You could end the day as quickly as you began it without taking time to look around you at the people that God has placed in your life, the beauty of creation, and you could miss the chance to receive great joy!
Pace of Life. He was never in a hurry, except to go to Jerusalem and embrace his cross (John 11:6; Mark 10:32). Live with intentionality. I am reading a great book right now given to me by a wonderful family member called, “Margin” by: Richard Swenson. I definitely recommend it. This book is a great way to learn how to “Restore emotional, physical, financial, and time reserves to overloaded lives.” There is always space to be made in our schedules, and strategies to re-prioritize and create a balance. There is a lot you can do with 60 seconds… stop every once in a while during your day; take 1-minute and breathe, notice something new in your environment, recognize something you are thankful for, shift your affection back to Perfect Love.
Jesus Said the Hard Things:
When you chose to live a healthy life, people will naturally be attracted to you and will ask you to help them navigate tough things in their lives. This is an honor and privilege. If we are put in this position, though, we want to demonstrate love while also speaking truth in order to help people find the change they desire. Here are three ways Jesus spoke “truth in love” (Eph 4:15):
Exploitation. He used a whip to clear out the temple of the vendors and money changers who were taking advantage of the poor and turning God’s house into a marketplace (Matthew 21:12-17, John 2:12-16). This word “exploitation” means taking advantage of, misusing, or gaining an undeserved benefit from. We are told in Scripture that “our bodies are temples” (1 Cor 6:19). Sometimes we need help or can help others bring awareness to some of the ways that they might be “exploiting” their temples and guide them into a healthy direction. Even practical ways such as eating healthy working out, and refraining from impure movies/music.
Addiction. He told the Rich Young Ruler that he couldn’t help him until he gave away the money that was controlling him (Matthew 19:16-21). Humans are addicted to a variety of substances, possessions, relationships, ideas, etc… The reason for this is because God put within us a void that can only be filled with Him. He wants us to chose Him to fill this “hole.” When we use addiction to address the void, we are met with depression, anxiety, and a multitude of other issues. We can help people identify addiction and work to eradicate it from their life in order to find health and happiness. Be aware that addiction is not always overt; we cannot assume anything about people’s lives… some of the most dangerous addictions are hidden. We must build relationship with people so that they feel safe and confident sharing their hidden hurt. If you are struggling with addiction, seek help to destroy it’s influence and control over your life.
Misguided. He rebuked (reprimanded) the disciples who tried to keep the little children away from him and told them that they needed to emulate the children’s faith (Matthew 19:13-15). What misguided beliefs might I have that are preventing me from experiencing life to the fullest? What opinions, prejudices, or fears do I have that are dragging “off-course?” Jesus left us with His Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17) to lead, guide, and direct us to living lives of consistency and love… why wouldn’t we desire that? The Spirit of God in you is a powerful tool to help teach and lead others to come into healthy life-direction and fulfillment.
Jesus Demonstrated Healthy Boundaries:
Practicing Personal Prayer Time: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:6). Develop a practical routine. Set a time that works for you and your schedule and commit. Take time daily to draw close to God; experience His life-giving presence to propel you through your day and help you to focus. Charles Stanley states it best: “The more you honor your appointment, the greater your desire to protect it, and the greater your enrichment.”
Be Honest: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37). Be consistent. Be transparent. Dishonesty creates even greater relational stress and distracts you from living the life you want.
Set Priorities: “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Luke 16:13). God first, every day. I love this passage: “I have set Christ always before me.” I have set Him before my road-rage in morning traffic, before my entitlement, before my discouragement, before my car problems, before my………..
Please God, Not People: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). If you are a “people-pleaser,” you will be disappointed with daily life. Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…” I spent a lot of my life working for people and not for God. It doesn’t work. I tried often to be who others wanted me to be, to agree with them, to fit in at the expense of my safety, health, and morals. This pattern of life is exhausting and unfulfilling. I love this quote from Heidi Baker: “NO can be an anointed word. We cannot be savior to all. We are servants, daughters, sons, and brides, but not saviors. There is only one Savior. We cannot have His job.”
(Some ideas adapted from work by Bill Gaultiere)