Matthew 14:12-23 I’m not quoting this whole passage here. I encourage the reader to read the full text.
In our day there is a large focus on self. Common terms are “self-care” and “me time” among others. In this passage, we see a pattern from the Savior to emulate in our Christian lives as regards “me time”.
First: Time alone is good
“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.” v.13
Jesus wanted to be by himself for a time after hearing the news of the death of John the Baptist. We can learn that alone time is not inherently a bad thing. At risk of getting ahead of myself, we must also note here that alone time can be misused and improperly prioritized. In the current day, we believe that we must misuse our alone time in order to be true to ourselves. We believe that we must improperly prioritize alone time if we are to live effectively. Please note that the concept of alone time is a good thing. We must learn from the pattern of Christ what the time, place, and context for alone time should be, if we are to use it rightly as Christians.
Second: Time alone is put after service to others
While on his way to retreat, Jesus was interrupted by the masses of people. It seems as though prioritizing alone time over these people was not thought in his mind. He had compassion on them, healed them, and fed them. He did not withdraw further until he had taken care of the needy that were in front of him. How frequently we seek to be alone, and are faced with those who need help. We see this particularly of our children. They, like the masses, seek us out and try to get in front of us. Are you moved with compassion? Do you seek to meet their need graciously, without contempt, with a loving spirit, putting them before yourself, not begrudgingly, without frustration that they interrupted your alone time again? Or have we so bought into the idea that alone time is so paramount, that any attention we can muster toward our children is filled with frustration and perhaps anger? Follow the pattern of Jesus in this: that we seek the good of others before the good of ourselves.
Third: The use of alone time
"He went up on the mountain by himself to pray." v.23
As I mentioned in the first point, there is a proper use for alone time. You may have noticed that I haven’t been using the term “me time” in the last few points. This is intentional, because of what we learn from Jesus and the use of alone time. Alone time is not “me time.” Rather, it is time with God in prayer. Social media influencers and psychologists constantly tell us what our alone time should be, and encourage the misuse of the time. We should instead find what scripture shows us, and learn that our alone time should be in prayer. If your use of alone time is self-centered, self-gratifying, entertainment-based, scripture-neglecting, and prayerless, look to the pattern of Jesus our Savior, and learn from his use of alone time, and seriously evaluate your alone time.
This is a hard lesson, because we have largely bought into the mindset of the world. We like to think we aren’t influenced by social media influencers, but it is often the case that they shape our thoughts more than scripture does. We like to think that we can resist the secular humanist approach of psychologists, but we have internalized their beliefs more than we realize.
I would encourage you to spend any alone time with a God-focused mindset, and not a self-centered one.