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Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Quest for Balance

If there’s ever been a need in the Christian world for balance, it’s now. Wow! We see all kinds of extremes in almost every area of life. Why such a disconnect? Why such a goofy interpretation (says the person on the other side of the argument)? Why so many disparate lifestyles? Why such a lack of vision—or all out crazy zeal? Where’s the sensible approach? Where’s balance?

I’ll be the first to admit it’s a struggle. Where is balance? Let’s see if we can identify the need and then make some biblical applications.

We need to find a balance somewhere between:
Workaholic                                                                         Lazy
The world’s entertainment                                            Frowning on any pleasure
Ultra organization                                                            Haphazard living
Long sleeves, high necklines, long skirts, etc.          Shorts and a crop top
Hoarding                                                                            Minimalism
Adherence to the Bible as a whole                               Obedience to parts of the Bible
Personal priorities                                                         God’s priorities
Family as defined by the world                                     Family as defined by God
Spending for self                                                           Giving away most of our money
Disciplined plan for savings                                          Not saving at all
Contributing to social security, IRAs, etc.                    No insurance at all
So involved in church that one’s never home               Warm the church bench Sundays
Facelift, Botox, hair color, mani-pedis                          Frumpy

We could probably make these lists as long as we could brainstorm!

Let’s just look at these extremes and see if we can find some biblical guidance. I don’t claim to have achieved total balance—especially in some areas—so I am looking up Bible passages with you to see what they say about these topics. Let’s see if we can find some added perspectives.

Work habits—The Bible’s clear that people should work to provide for themselves and their families. The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain (Proverbs 15:19). The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour (Proverbs 21:25). Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest (Ecclesiastes 9:10). For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Entertainment—If there ever was an area that needs balance, this is it! We need to shun evil while enjoying the Lord and His goodness. Clean entertainment is good, and it’s important to be discerning in our choices. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me (Psalm 101:3). Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way (Psalm 119:37). I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (Job 31:1) I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

Organization—In the context of the church, the Bible says, Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). Always, we see God’s meticulous order—in creation, in the instructions for the ark and the Tabernacle and the Temple, and in giving the Law. I believe God wants order in our lives, as well.

Modesty—The Bible is clear that women should dress modestly. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10). What does modesty look like? Well, you know it when you see it! The Bible’s emphasis is always on the heart attitude, but it’s also clear that godly women will be modest. We’re to look at truly godly women for guidance in our clothing choices.

Hoarding vs Minimalism—Strangely enough, the Bible has something to say about hoarding, though it gives leeway about the amount of possessions one might have. And he (Jesus) said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15). Jesus followed with a parable about a rich man whose land was fruitful. He decided to tear down the barns he already had and build bigger ones, so that he could store all his goods. The man said to himself, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:19b-21). Jesus also said, But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matthew 6:20). Our material priorities should be second to heavenly priorities.

The Bible—Sects typically pick one part of the Bible to emphasize and minimize the parts that don’t go along with their system of beliefs. (A sect always has an erroneous view of Jesus Christ, for example.) Some base themselves only on the Old Testament Law, and others have invented “new” scriptures to add to the Bible. Some say they are explaining the Bible, while their writings are extra-biblical. Some interpretations of Bible doctrines are founded using a pick-and-choose manner of interpretation. What does the Bible say about itself? All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

Priorities—God is very clear about priorities. Jesus said, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33). Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:37-40).

Family—From the beginning, God made a family: Adam, Eve, and their children. And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:22, 24). And he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matthew 19:4-6).

Spending vs Giving—The Bible makes it crystal clear that giving is better than spending on one’s self. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

Savings and Insurance—The Bible does indicate that provision for the future and future generations is a good idea. There is much debate as to Social Security and “relying on the government rather than on God’s supply.” I believe this is one of those things where every man must be fully persuaded in his own mind (Romans 14:5) The following verses might help us make wise decisions. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just (Proverbs 13:22). But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).

Church Involvement—The Bible clearly teaches that we should be in a church. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). In the days of Acts, they met every day, and Sunday was renamed “the Lord’s Day” because Jesus rose again on Sunday. The early church met on Sundays. How often should you meet? The Bible doesn’t give a number of days. The principle seems to be that you should meet together with other brethren on a regular basis. Should we neglect our family because we are so involved in church? Of course not. We need to seek balance. It is obvious that God’s plan is for all of us to be involved in and using our spiritual gifts in our local church ministry.

Facelifts, Botox, etc.—As you can imagine, the Bible doesn’t directly address these things. But, it does give principles about being frumpy. The Virtuous Woman makes her own clothing, but she uses beautiful cloth. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple (Proverbs 31:22). Jesus is always the best example. His coat was nice, so much so that the soldiers didn’t want to rip it up. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots (19:23-24). The Bible says that a person’s heart is much more important than his appearance.

When the Bible is clear, our best course is obeying God’s Word. Where there are two extremes and one pleases God, we want the “extreme” that pleases God. Where both ends of the issue are crazy, we need to find a happy middle ground. In the context of joy, the Apostle Paul writes, Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (Philippians 4:5).

Let’s be balanced Christians! Let’s love God with all our being, others as ourselves, and seek balance in every area of our lives.

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