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Moderation and Balance

December 31st, 2012

As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus.

“Don’t . . lose your balance.” 2 Peter 3:17 CEV.

Moderation can be a virtue if the concept is rightly understood. “Let your moderation be known to all men.” Philippians 4:5 KJV. Often, people are more readily given to extremes rather than moderation. And then, the usual adjustments are from one measure of an extreme to another.

When Jesus knelt to wash the disciples’ feet, Peter protested and refused Jesus’ doing so. Read John 13:5-10 NKJV. Then when Jesus corrected him, Peter swung to the other extreme, “Not just my feet but my hands and head as well.” Vs. 9 NIV. Jesus’ response was an example of practical moderation, “Jesus answered, ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.’” Vs. 10 NIV. It is a simple lesson for life; too much of even a good thing can be unprofitable.

When overweight, a person typically makes a radical change to their menu, rather than a healthy adjustment to their lifestyle. A dieter goes to an extreme that is often unhealthy and therefore ineffective long term. Overnight, some people shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an exercise regimen that is unsustainable. Balance is necessary in every area of life, making essential adjustments progressively until a healthy, Godly equilibrium is established.

Peter, the former extremist, advocates the proper place for balance in the Christian’s lifestyle: “Don’t let . .  people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance.  Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever!” 2 Peter 3:17-18 CEV. The same concept is expressed in a different translation; “Be on guard lest you lose your footing and get swept off your feet.” 2 Peter 3:17 The Message. Don’t allow people or circumstances to make you lose your balance.

I aspire for balance in my spiritual and everyday life – balancing marriage and ministry priorities, balancing personal reflection and meaningful conversation, or balancing spiritual disciplines and social engagement. That is not always as simple as you might first suppose. It is easy to assume that balance involves equal parts of different things. That is neither realistic nor a proper understanding. Balance cannot remain static; balance – like your spiritual life and personal relationships – must be dynamic, always adjusting, always current. The concept of spiritual balance is best illustrated by a recipe consisting of: the correct proportions of the right ingredients, blended together at the right time for the intended result.

I have long enjoyed a poem by Rudyard Kipling that expresses the balance a life is meant to enjoy. “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch; If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!” (If, 1895). Keep your balance in all the experiences of life – the gain, the loss; the pleasure, the pain; the good, the bad.

As in everything, Jesus is your model for a truly balanced life. “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52 NIV. Jesus’ natural maturing encompassed His development mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. As you grow spiritually, you should increasingly reflect the loveliness of Jesus. Paul writes of the ultimate goal of your coming to, ”the knowledge of the Son of God, to a [maturing] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that Jesus is always your example and highest goal.

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A Balanced Life

April 15th, 2010

“Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8 NIV

“Here’s how God says life works: give it – find it; keep it – lose it!”

My thoughts today are about a “balanced life.”

Life is often a balancing act – between earning and spending, between home and office, between  family and friends, between spouse and children, between work and play, between rest and recreation, between reason and emotion, between laughter and tears, between triumph and struggle, between God and man, and between spiritual and natural. Get the idea? Life is a balancing act, and for yours and others’ harmony and happiness you will have to become good at doing that.

Balancing your life is not about always having equal parts. No one would suggest that the things I just mentioned are equal to one another. That’s what makes it a little complicated. I always thought of the concept of balance as pictured by a butcher’s scale, a half-pound on one side counterbalanced by a half-pound on the other.

I am fascinated with jugglers and their dexterity of hand and eye coordination. Juggling three or more objects of equal size and shape, such as yellow tennis balls, is one thing. Do you feel like your life is like that? No, that’s not what life is like, as challenging as that might seem. Imagine this: juggling multiple objects of vastly different sizes, shapes, and weights – like a basketball, a golf ball, a dinner plate, and a chain saw (not running of course!). That’s more similar to what life feels like sometimes (and the chain saw is running!).

I suggest for your consideration that balance is more like a recipe – requiring the right mix of the right ingredients in their right measure and each blended at the right time. Life, nor any slice of time and season, ever seems to afford equal parts of everything. That could be overwhelming, even unmanageable. Life really is about finding the right mix and out of a diversity of often competing things. A balanced life is about learning how to turn competing, maybe conflicting, things into being complementary. How is the mix of your life? Anything out of balance? Much of that is solved with clarity about purpose and priorities. See Matthew 6:33 NLT. Balance is not static; it is dynamic, in need of continuing readjustment and rebalancing the mix.

Today’s verse is about balance really – “freely you have received; freely also give” – advocating a lifestyle of balance between what you are given and what you give. You might at first think that giving is the hardest part but probably as many people struggle with receiving, without needing to have earned what is offered them. Are you a better giver, or receiver? Those are not always equal, but they need to be proportional. You have received; you have to give.

Our daughter, Lori, captured this truth succinctly on her Facebook Wall this morning, “Give it – find it; keep it – lose it!” The Bible explains that’s how life works, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV. Greed and generosity: opposite responses in life with  very opposite results! Which would best describe you and what you are experiencing everyday?

My prayer for you today is to receive graciously and to give generously.

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