Leaves begin their ever-startling transformation, pumpkin spice everything makes its way to shop shelves, and kids flock back to their classrooms. As we wrap up this unseasonably warm September, let’s revisit Ms. Proverbs 31 in her own context: self.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. (v 17)
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (v 25)
In the midst of our culture’s fascination with self-care, investing in one’s health (emotional, physical, and spiritual) can seem like either the most intuitive path or the most selfish. For gospel purposes, let’s find a middle way.
Our girlfriend in Proverbs has no problem investing in herself. You don’t see any bits of shame or guilt as she embarks on her B.C. arms workout. She brims with defiant joy against anxiety, secure in her emotional well-being. This kind of confidence is a direct result of self-tending: soul, body, and mind. She sees herself as a garden that, if cultivated properly, can benefit all who encounter her. It’s not a self-inflated view; it’s agreeing with Scripture that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, and that she is created for the good of the world (Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10).
Let’s look at what you don’t see in her garden. Two things are obviously missing: selfishness and lack of ownership.
Her commitment to investing in her mind, soul, and body does not lead to self-absorption. The rest of Proverbs 31 shows that because she is so well cared for (by her own sweet self), she loves on her family and her community in a way that makes God look good. Kids aren’t going hungry because Mom is at the gym—again. Mr. P doesn’t have an absent wife who’s out with the girls for the fifth time this week. And the poor know her as a dependable source of goodness and light. She doesn’t neglect others’ needs because she’s so consumed with her own.
P31 girl also doesn’t rail against her husband or friends, expecting them to tend her garden. She is her own responsibility (remember?), and she gladly takes the initiative to fix what needs fixing. No pity parties or victim mentalities here! As she cultivates herself, she creates a more radiant sacrifice to lay on the altar of the Lamb.
As the spiritual great-great-great-great-great-great (whatever) granddaughters of this fabulous woman, and as her younger sisters in Christ, let’s tend ourselves well. Your physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health can help advance the kingdom or limit your ability to contribute to it. We don’t have to chase after the perfect body or most pristine soul or supremely elevated mind. We can pursue health in a peaceful, happy, free way that relies on the Lord and gives meaning to those around us.
Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10). This is what He wants for us, friends—a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. Not just barely life. Not keeping our heads above water. Not hoping to make it through another day. Full, vibrant, flourishing gardens that mimic the garden we came from and the garden we’re headed toward.
1. What does physical, spiritual, and mental/emotional health look like to you?
2. Which of the three areas mentioned (body, soul, or mind) are you best tending? How?
3. Which of the three areas mentioned (body, soul, or mind) needs the most work? Why?
4. What are some simple steps you can take in the coming days and weeks to begin cultivating yourself in a way that honors God?