In last week’s post, I said that if we do not recognize our awesomeness (our value and giftedness), we won’t share what we’ve been given with others. We will be too insecure and afraid to open our mouths. In order for us to serve others in true humility (out of fullness instead of emptiness), we must have a high sense of self-worth.
We must, also, affirm our self-worth in order to love others—and that might mean denying ourselves even small pleasures which are harmful for either our bodies or souls. For example, knowing that if I climbed the 182 steps in the Fire Island Lighthouse this week it would aggravate the arthritis in my knee, I chose to remain on the ground, while my grandchildren climbed the steps. I gave them my camera and they took some beautiful shots of the view from the top of the stairs.
I made this choice because I not only value myself, I also value my grandchildren. Therefore, I want to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible, so that I can communicate with them, encourage them, and enjoy them for many more years. The extent to which I value myself is the extent that which I value others. This is what Jesus meant when he told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s an outcome of, first and foremost, loving God. (Luke 10:27 NKJV)
We may not think that anyone is noticing us, but all of us have a degree of influence. Children tend to make the choices that their parents did, even if they claim that they will not. For example, my daughters may not have appreciated my emphasis on good nutrition when they were growing up, yet both of them pay attention to the nutritional needs of their children. Although I got teased about drinking tiger’s milk during pregnancy, changing my diet made a huge difference in the way I felt.
By our small, daily choices we build life-long habits; these habits either protect and nurture our life or destroy it. We build thought habits, as well as behavior habits. In fact our thinking determines our behavior, so we must pay attention to what we are thinking. In his book, The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley emphasizes the importance of attention. “Whatever gets our attention,” he says, “determines our direction, and ultimately, our destination.” [i]
If we care about ourselves, we will pay attention to (think about) the choices we make, because we, also, care about our influence on others. This is the challenge David gives us in Psalm 34.
Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good. Psalm 34:12-14 NLT
[i] Andy Stanley, The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Nashville: Nelson 2008), 136