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The Insanity of ‘Self-Care’

David Mathis writes,

Grace is too strong to leave us passive, too potent to let us wallow in the mire of our sins and weaknesses. “My grace is sufficient for you,” Jesus says, “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It is the grace of God that gives us his “means of grace” for our ongoing perseverance and growth and joy this side of the coming new creation. And the grace of God inspires and empowers the various habits and practices by which we avail ourselves of God’s means. (Habits of Grace, 23–24)

Where does the weary soul find rest and relief from its stress? Jesus says,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt 11.28–30″>Matthew 11:28–30)

Where does the anxious soul find peace for all its fears?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

Where do we find the strength to keep battling our sins, overcoming our weaknesses and running hard through this difficult life into eternity?

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13)

The Massive God in Your Small Habits

Practice a different kind of mindfulness. Go ahead and listen to music, or watch a sunset, or play with your pet, but go Godward—be mindful of God and his great love for you. It really can be helpful to practice gratitude, or to enjoy a particular moment or activity, or to focus on something bigger than yourself, but not if it ends there, and certainly not if it only ends with you. Any habit or activity can be a means of joy, peace and healing, but only if it brings you to God—our only Lord, Savior and greatest Treasure.

  • “Blow bubbles,” and remember that your sins have been forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
  • “Plant a flower,” and pray for God to satisfy you, again. (Psalm 90:14)
  • “Hum a tune,” and memorize another stunning promise in the Bible. (Isaiah 41:10)
  • “Feed birds and squirrels,” and know how much your heavenly Father cares and provides for you. (Matt 6.25–34″>Matthew 6:25–34)

The power of effective habits is not in the seclusion, or the silence, or the journal, but in whom you find in the habit. If you only find yourself, then your weaknesses, failures and stresses can only be amplified and perpetuated. But if you find more of God, you have found resources far beyond yourself to address your deepest, most desperate needs.

Habits of Grace Now Available

Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer and joining together with his people as the church.

The everyday habits we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow—including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.

Also available is a study guide workbook for individual and group study.  

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Marshall Segal (@MarshallSegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating (2017). He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife Faye live in Minneapolis.