Living a balanced life, and it’s importance.

Posted: December 7, 2014 in Thoughts on God

My body is so inflexible. I cannot even sit cross-legged on the floor. Most of this is due to the disease I am afflicted with along with the treatments, but I’m currently trying to change this. I realize I am not. Physical fitness is a combination of strength, flexibility, aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Some people are exceptionally strong but cannot even run to catch a bus. Others are aerobically very fit (they could run a marathon), but are not very strong.

However, spiritual fitness is far more important than physical fitness. It also involves balancing a number of areas of your life.

1. Humility and confidence

Proverbs 29:19–27 I find it very hard to maintain the balance between humility and confidence. There have been times in my life when I have been humbled (perhaps by some failure) and not felt very confident. At other times, I have felt great confidence but, perhaps, lacked humility.

There is much to ponder in today’s passage in Proverbs about not speaking before we think (v.20), controlling anger and hot-temperedness (v.22), and trusting God as being the ultimate source of justice (v.26).

In particular, I notice this balance between humility and confidence. ‘Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors’ (v.23, MSG). This is a constant theme in Proverbs (11:2; 18:12; 21:4; 22:4).

Be confident in the Lord. Do not live in fear of what others may think or do. ‘To fear anyone will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe’ (29:25).

The key to keeping this balance is to avoid self-confidence and to practice humble God-confidence, ensuring that your confidence comes not from your own abilities or successes, but from trusting in the Lord.

Lord, help me to get this balance right in my life. Help me to have a confidence that comes from trusting in you, to avoid fearing anyone and to walk humbly before you.

2. Truth and love

2 John 1:1–13 Here is another difficult balance to maintain. Love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love. Sometimes in my life I have been passionate about ‘the truth’, but perhaps have not been very loving. Other times I have tried to be very loving but perhaps have failed to care enough about ‘the truth’.

In this second letter of John (probably written to a church referred to as ‘the chosen lady’ (v.1)), he warns them of the danger of false teaching that denied the fact that Jesus had come to this earth in bodily form and was therefore both fully divine and fully human. We see John urging this beautiful balance of ‘truth and love’ (v.2). Indeed, he intermingles the two, even in the greeting.

He writes, ‘I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I’m not alone – everyone who knows the Truth that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you’ (v.1, MSG).

Because he loves them, he wants to see them in person and ‘have a heart-to-heart talk’ (v.12, MSG). Letter writing, emails, texts, phone calls and even Skype are no substitute for seeing someone ‘face to face’ (v.12) and talking heart to heart.

He urges them to ‘love one another’ (v.5) and to ‘walk in love’ (v.6). Love should be the aim of our lives. Study love, talk about it and practice it.

The test of love is obedience to Jesus: ‘Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love’ (v.6, MSG).

Truth and love are not opposed to each other. Indeed, they complement one another. John is delighted to find this church ‘living out the Truth’ (v.4, MSG). Truth really matters. Truth is found in a person. Jesus said, ‘I am … the Truth’ (John 14:6). As John Hus (1370–1415) wrote:

‘Seek the truth
Listen to the truth
Teach the truth
Love the truth
Abide by the truth
And defend the truth
Unto death.’

There are many deceivers out there (2 John 1:7–8). We must cling to the truth and not be deceived or we will lose out.

Only by knowing the truth and holding fast to it and continuing in the teaching will we have ‘both the Father and the Son’ (v.9).

The next verse does not sound very loving – ‘If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner’ (v.10, MSG).

But actually, John’s passion for the truth stems from his love for this church. He knows that these false teachers will seek to lead them astray, and he is desperate that they ‘do not lose what you have worked for’ (v.8). Because he loves them, he is not willing to tolerate falsehood.

Lord, help us as individuals and as a church to maintain this balance between truth and love. Help us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

3. Vision and action

Haggai 1:1–2:23Visions don’t work unless you do. Some people are visionaries (thinkers) and some are doers (workers). In this little book of Haggai, we see a wonderful balance between vision and action.

Five times, the Lord Almighty said through the prophet Haggai: ‘Give careful thought’ (1:5,7; 2:15 and twice in 2:18). Vision starts with grasping in our minds a picture of what could be.

We need to get our priorities sorted out. Haggai challenged God’s people about their priorities. They were living in comfortable homes while the temple of the Lord remained a ruin (1:4). Yet they were saying, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built’ (v.2).

The people had decided to rebuild the temple. They had good intentions, but they had not done it because it was not their priority.

The prophet Haggai urged them to think carefully about their ways (v.5). Their primary concern should be to see God’s name honored (v.8), yet they left God’s house as a ‘ruin’ (vv.4,9).

Eugene Peterson writes that there are ‘times in our lives when repairing the building where we worship is an act of obedience every bit as important as praying in that place of worship.’

Some of the people were dismayed that the new Temple was not as splendid as the old had been: ‘ “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong … For I am with you … And my Spirit remains among you. The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house … And in this place I will grant peace” ’ (2:3–5, 9).

These are the verses through which God spoke to Sandy Millar, and others, about HTB Onslow Square in July 1981, when the church was about to be closed and sold as a block of flats. It was the theme of our 2010 thanksgiving service celebrating the 150th anniversary of the church, and the official reopening after three years of restoration work.

As we looked at the history of what had happened in that church, we saw that its former glory had been very great. Our prayer and hope for the future is that ‘the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house’ (v.9).

In the book of Haggai, the people got a vision of how the glory of the temple could be greater even than that of the former temple. But then they had to ‘Get to work, all you people! – God is speaking … Put into action’ (v.4, MSG). And so the work began (1:14).

As we look around at the church in our own nation we need to give careful thought to our ways. It is not right for us to live in comfort while God’s house remains a ‘ruin’. God wants people in this nation to come to know him and be part of his church. We need to catch a glimpse of how God could be even more glorified in his church today than he was in the past (2:9).

We must first ‘be strong’ (v.4). Do not weaken in your resolve because of attack, criticism or discouragement. Second, we must ‘work’ (1:14; 2:4). It is hard work but there is nothing wrong with that. There are times when we need to work exceedingly hard. Third, ‘do not fear’ (v.5). This suggests that there will be things that could cause fear.

The key is that the Lord says, ‘I am with you … And my Spirit remains among you’ (1:13; 2:5). You can overcome all your fears because you know that God is with you.

Lord, without you we can do nothing. If you are with us, we will not be afraid but will continue to work hard and be strong in the face of opposition, attack, and discouragement.

Thank you that we can trust you with our finances: ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine’ (2:8). Over and over again, across the land, glorify your name.

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