Caring for our own hearts isn’t selfishness; it’s how we begin to love.

Yes, we care for our hearts for the sake of others. Does that sound like a contradiction? Not at all. What will you bring to others if your heart is empty, dried up, pinned down? Love is the point. And you can’t love without your heart, and you can’t love well unless your heart is well.

When it comes to the whole subject of loving others, you must know this: how you handle your own heart is how you will handle theirs. This is the wisdom behind Jesus’ urging us to love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). “A horrible command,” as C. S. Lewis points out, “if the self were simply to be hated.” If you dismiss your heart, you will end up dismissing theirs. If you expect perfection of your heart, you will raise that same standard for them. If you manage your heart for efficiency and performance, that is what you’ll pressure them to be.

“But,” you protest, “I have lots of grace for other people. I’m just hard on myself.” I tried the same excuse for years. It doesn’t work. Even though we may try to be merciful toward others while we neglect or beat up ourselves, they can see how we treat our own hearts, and they will always feel the treatment will be the same for them. They are right. Eventually, inevitably, we will treat them poorly too.

 

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