There is a popular notion circulating social media, books, and conferences that insists God created women to be delicate. As a result of this belief, some women adopt the mantra “I must take time for myself.” They equate self-care with selfishness. Yet, I’ve spent half my life serving in church ministry and have spent the other half on the fringes of Christianity. I see self-care differently.

Self-care, done properly, is not a bad thing. In fact, if you were to ask me, I’d tell you it’s a godly endeavor. How can I say such things? Consider these truths about self-care from God’s Word.

1. Jesus taught us to care for ourselves by caring for our neighbor.

Jesus told a story of a Samaritan who helped a victim of robbers and beatings (Luke 10:33). Though Jesus’ audience despised Samaritans, He shared their story. This was a risky move for Jesus, yet he took it anyway. The story shows you can be righteous and show mercy to those on the fringes of society. The Samaritan made a conscious choice to think about the victim of beatings. He didn’t look the other way. Instead, he “paused” (v. 33) to help this man.

The Samaritan’s story teaches you to love your neighbor as yourself. He was a man of compassion. His compassion led him to wash wounds, tend to broken bones and bring his neighbor to a safe place. He did all this for a man who looked different, a man who couldn’t help himself, and a man whose life was “nasty, brutish and short” (Thomas Hobbes).

The Samaritan stopped, paused, then helped the man because he cared. Jesus told the parable to teach us to care for our brothers and sisters who are different. To be kind, compassionate and merciful to them. Self-care doesn’t mean ignoring people unlike you. It means helping people who are unlike you.

2. Jesus taught us to care for ourselves by caring for ourselves.

Jesus taught self-care in Matthew 12:31 when he said, “Everyone who blasphemes will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” In Matthew 12:24-37, the Jews accused Jesus of blaspheming. Jesus uses this situation to explain how He andthe Holy Spirit were one. A word Jesus used was “blaspheme.” The Jews decided to misuse the word. Jesus, instead, used the word to teach an important truth.

Our Father created us with minds and the capacity to choose. It is our choice as to what we do with our minds. Our minds are meant to glorify God. The Holy Spirit helps us glorify God by revealing Christ to us, by making us more like Him, by filling us with Himself, and by encouraging us to pray.

Every time we use our minds to praise God, worship God, learn about God, or pray to God we honor God. Doing these things and more is glorifying Him because we are giving God the honor and glory He deserves. Sometimes this will involve reordering our priorities and seeking God more than fame, money, power or relationships.

When we put these things before God our sin-nature may get angry. The sin-nature may fight God in our mind, body and soul. When this happens we can speak against the Holy Spirit if we fight our own self-revelation in Christ. When we put more importance on things of this world over things of God we blaspheme the Holy Spirit. We can’t call upon Christ and the Holy Spirit to deliver us from our sin-nature. We must be the ones to choose Christ. Jesus warns us that whoever does this shall not be forgiven.

Self-care, done properly, means loving God so much your desire is to talk to Him. Self-care means speaking the truth about your thoughts, desires and relationships. Self-care means purging your thoughts to align with Christ. Self-care means you are willing to die to self. Self-care means you are willing to walk in Christ’s footsteps.

Self-care also means restoring your body, mind and soul to what God intended. This includes taking steps to feed your mind with good ideas through reading, prayer and faithfully attending church. It also includes refraining from self-harmful practices and toxic relationships.

Self-care means taking care of your soul by making sure it is set in alignment with God’s Word. It also means letting it be shaped in its image, by recognizing and doing away with sinful thoughts and desires that are contrary to God.

3. Jesus taught us to care for ourselves by loving others.

Jesus taught about self-care in Luke 10:25-37. In this story, Jesus uses a lawyer to teach about “loving your neighbor as yourself.” A lawyer from Galilee tried to test Jesus on the greatest commandment (v. 25). Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).

The lawyer tries to justify himself by asking what he must do to inherit eternal life (v. 29). Jesus answers him, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v. 30). The lawyer answered right, but he asked what he should do to inherit eternal life. Instead of stopping there, Jesus used this opportunity to tell them to love others as themselves.

After Jesus said these things, He had to make sure the lawyer understood what “loving your neighbor as yourself” meant. So, He told the lawyer a story about a Samaritan who traveled down a road. Along the way he came to a man who had fallen victim to robbers. A priest and a Levite passed the man by on the road. After they passed, the Samaritan stoped to care for this man (v. 25-37). The Samaritan was a man who loved God and loved his neighbor.

The Jewish lawyer misunderstood this truth at first. Because of this, Jesus asked the lawyer who is his neighbor (v. 36)? The lawyer replied, “The one who showed him mercy” (v. 37). Jesus used the term “neighbor” because of Leviticus 19:18. This was God’s command to His chosen people to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

The lawyer thought because he was a Jew he was God’s chosen people (v. 25). The Jewish lawyer forgot the “neighbor” part in Leviticus 19:18. It’s unfortunate the lawyer neglected to consider the “loving your neighbor” part of the command. In their case, Levites and Priests would love the Jewish people and the Samaritan would love his fellow Samaritans.

The lawyer’s understanding of how to love your neighbor is why Jesus responded with another story. Jesus told them the truth about loving their neighbor as themselves. In order to love your neighbor properly, you must love yourself properly. Then you can see God’s truth by loving others as He commanded.

Self-care means recognizing the truth. It means seeing it, acknowledging it, and choosing to do what is right. Self-care means loving others. It means learning from others. It means treating others with the same level of respect and kindness you wish they’d give you.

4. Jesus taught us to care for ourselves by stopping to rest.

Jesus taught about self-care in Mark 6:30-32. Jesus’ disciples had spent their days seeing people healed. After Jesus saw the disciples, He reminded them to stop and rest. He said, “Let’s go somewhere else – to some other town and let me preach there also, for that is why I have come” (Mark 6:30, HCSB).

In the beginning of Mark 6, Jesus’ disciples were anxious to see Jesus. Because of this the disciples couldn’t think straight because they were tired and hungry. After preaching to a large crowd, they listened to Jesus feed 5,000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish. After Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000, the disciples tried to send the people home.

The disciples wanted to talk to Jesus and Jesus wanted to talk to them. Jesus didn’t want to continue preaching to people while the disciples were tired. He told them to stop so they could rest. Jesus asked them to come aside so He could have quality time with them. Jesus wanted this more than He wanted to preach to the masses. He showed He loves His disciples by caring for the disciples by saying, “Let’s go somewhere else”. Jesus loved His disciples by giving them the opportunity to rest.

Self-care means resting