Balance Series #2: Where Balance Is Needed
In many areas of doctrine we must accept twin truths of Scripture, which at first appear to be in contradiction with each other; but are actually giving us God’s full-orbed truth on a matter. Here are some of those twin truths of Scripture which at a cursory glance sometimes appear to be contradictions.
FAITH AND WORKS
Faith is a major theme in Paul’s Epistles. Works is a theme in the Epistle of James. Both men show the need for the balance of faith and works in our lives. It is clear in Romans 3 through 5 and in passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5-6 that we are not saved by attempting to atone for our sins through any works of righteousness on our part; but by faith in God’s provision of His Son, Jesus, who shed His blood to atone for our sins. It’s the shed blood of Christ which atones for our sins; not our own flawed works.
Both James and Paul are saying something like this. Salvation is by faith and faith alone, apart from any works of our own righteousness; but by a faith that does not remain alone; but results in a changed life of good works In other words, one who claims faith in Christ, but whose life evidences no love for Christ and for others and has no change in his behaviour, shows he has never truly been saved. II Corinthians 13:5 and James 2:20 challenge us to make sure the faith we claim is evidenced by our love and good works
The Thessalonian church is a good example of the combination of these two themes. They were “show and tell” Christians. Their lives backed up what they preached. Paul rejoices in their “work of faith” in I Thessalonians 1:3. In the remaining verses of the first chapter he describes that work of faith.
WORSHIP AND SERVICE
Balance is also needed in the area of worship and service. Christians tend to gravitate to one extreme or the others. Take for example, the story of Mary and Martha recorded in Luke 10:38-42 . Mary tended to spend her time in worship at Jesus’ feet. Martha tended to be too busy with kitchen duties to take time to worship Him. Jesus, chided Martha about her unbalanced emphasis on service. There is certainly nothing wrong in serving Christ, but if we serve to the exclusion of worship we are unbalanced and missing an important ingredient in our lives. In fact, Isaiah teaches in the 6th chapter of Isaiah that we are not prepared to serve Him until first we have worshipped at His feet. A beautiful Christian is one who has found the balance of worship and service.
KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM
Knowledge is acquired through teachers, books and experience. We tend to ring the bells of knowledge to show off the extent of our knowledge. To be balanced we need the fruit of godly wisdom to use our knowledge correctly; otherwise, we may end up using knowledge to harm others rather than help them. In James 3:13-18 James contrasts earthly and heavenly wisdom. As you read that passage, determine for yourself from the fruit produced, which kind of wisdom you have. If you lack heavenly wisdom and desire it, James 1:5-8 shows you clearly how you can have it.
KNOWLEDGE AND ZEAL
Zeal can be a good quality. Paul admonishes us in Titus 2:14 to be zealous of good works. Zeal can also be a dangerous, harmful quality if it is used without spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Saul of Tarsus, who was converted to Christ and whose name was changed to Paul, writes in Romans 10:1-3 about his destructive zeal before he was saved. In religious fervor he went about persecuting and killing Christians, thinking he was pleasing God. There are religious people in the world today who in misguided zeal terrorize and randomly kill those who are not of their religion, thinking they are doing a service for their god.
HONOUR AND MAJESTY
The Psalmist in Psalm 96:6 writes about the beautiful blend of honour and majesty which is a part of God’s character and that can be a part of our character as we submit to Him.
STRENGTH AND BEAUTY
In that same passage, Psalm 96:6 the Psalmist also describes a needed blend in our lives of strength and beauty. We need to develop strength of character and convictions for that which is right and against that which is wrong. But with that strength it is important that it be balanced with the beauty of a humble spirit that reflects in our faces, in our attitudes and in our relationship with others. Such a balance brings glory to God and blessing to others.
CONFIDENCE AND HUMILITY
Confidence rings like a bell in one who has it. But that confidence needs to be tempered with humility if we are to have a beautiful testimony before others and edify them. If we do not reflect humility, we become proud showmen or hard-nosed dogmatists and God is not glorified. On the other hand, if we lack confidence, we become shrinking violets who accomplish nothing for God.
SPEECH AND SILENCE
As witnesses for Christ, it is important to ring the bell of the Gospel. As witnesses we also need to possess the fruit of silence and self control. We need to learn when to speak and when to keep our mouth shut. We preachers especially need to know when to speak and what to say and also when to keep quiet. and listen and learn.
RIGIDITY AND FLEXIBILITY
As Christians let us ring the bell of rigidity and be inflexible in our stand for truth and righteousness. On the other hand, we also need to have the balance of being flexible on lesser matters, especially in the area where we differ in matters of opinion and preference.
God’s Word and the relationship we have with one another through the shed blood of Christ, unite us. But if we magnify our opinions and preferences, these things are bound to divide us.
In a family composed of parents, brothers and sisters with different personalities and interests, the thing that unites us is our family bond of love. So it can be in God’s family. Ask God to help you to know when to be rigid and when to be flexible.
SEPARATION AND INVOLVEMENT
As obedient Christians, it is important that we ring the bell of separation from sin. See my series SEPARATION for further information concerning this. At the same time, we must be involved in the lives of the unsaved, showing our friendship to them and yet not getting involved in their sin. Jesus in his prayer in John 17:15-17. expressed the need for balance in the matter of separation and involvement. To be salt and light in a corrupt, sin-darkened world, we need to be involved in the lives of people.
DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY AND HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY
In the area of Biblical doctrine most Christian tend to gravitate to one of two emphases. Some glory in God’s sovereignty and ignore the truth of human responsibility and others glory in the truth of human responsibility and ignore the truth of God’s sovereignty. Both are Biblical doctrines backed by dozens of Scriptures.
The Gospel train runs down two parallel tracks. The track of God’s sovereignty and the track of human responsibility. Both tracks stay parallel through scripture. They cannot be brought together and they cannot be separated or the Gospel train will derail. To emphasize one to the exclusion of the other is to ring the bells, but ignore the fruit. on the hem of the priest’s garment.
We are a royal priesthood of believers. I Peter 2:9 announces. Let’s make sure that the hem of our spiritual garment of salvation which we considered in the first of this two part series has in it both the golden bells and the embroidered fruit in perfect balance. Only as we live a balanced life can we have a beautiful testimony.
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