|By: Dr. Steven C. Riser; ©2009|
|In this article we want to consider the need for and the importance of living a balanced Christian life. The road to becoming a healthy person isn’t easy. It’s not the road “more traveled,” but it’s the road “less traveled”! It’s not easy, but it’s more than worth it!|
Texts: Luke 2:52: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Philippians 4:5a (KJV): Let all men know your moderation.
Are you so heavenly minded that you are no earthy good? Are you so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good? If so, then your spiritual life is out of balance.
In this article we want to consider the need for and the importance of living a balanced Christian life. The road to becoming a healthy person isn’t easy. It’s not the road “more traveled,” but it’s the road “less traveled”! It’s not easy, but it’s more than worth it!
What do you think is the most common New Year’s resolution? That’s right – lose weight! Did it ever occur to you that maybe we have the cart before the horse? Instead of focusing on the negative results of unhealthy practices, perhaps it would be better to focus on the causes of becoming a healthy person? For example: If we had the proper nutrition, adequate rest and regular exercise, we probably wouldn’t have a weight problem in the first place. Losing weight could be seen as the result of practicing the principles which promote highly healthy individuals.
We need to personalize and apply this principle of living a balanced life because, the more specific we are about our destination, the more likely we’ll arrive where we want to go. We’re a work in progress and God isn’t finished with us yet (Eph. 2:10). To get the most out of this article, you’ll need to set goals and make plans to put this biblical principle into practice in order to live a more healthy and balanced Christian lifestyle.
Whom do you trust to define what constitutes a highly healthy individual? While all truth is God’s truth wherever it’s found, the Scripture is the final authority for health and wholeness. Christ is: 1) the Second Adam, 2) the sinless/perfect man and 3) we’re to follow His personal example.
How do you define a healthy individual? What does the Bible say about it? Luke 2:52 says: Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. Jesus grew: 1) psychologically, 2) physically, 3) spiritually and 4) socially. Jesus grew in relation to: 1) Himself, 2) God the Father and 3) others. Simply put: Healthy people function as God has designed and intended them to function.
In the Bible, health is viewed as completeness or wholeness. It’s only when individuals are in good physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual condition that they can be said to be balanced and healthy. Consider the following two rhetorical questions: Can you be mentally, emotionally and socially healthy without being spiritually healthy? Can you function the way God intends without being rightly related to Jesus Christ? No!
The Bible uses several terms to describe a highly healthy person:
How do you know if your life is out of balance? Here’s a very simple way to identify imbalance: if we love anyone or anything more than God our lives are out of balance.
What do these four wheels represent? 1) Psychological, 2) Physical, 3) Social and 4) Spiritual dimensions of living. One way to increase your balance is to find your most deflated tire and expand or grow it. God is not so just concerned with your “soul”; He’s concerned with every aspect of your being which includes the following:
Maintaining a healthy, biblical balance is a lifelong challenge (involving negative consequences) and a life enhancing task (involving positive results). We also need to be aware of the twin dangers of: 1) extremism in one hand and 2) over-reaction on the other!
Extremism, caused by a lack of biblical balance, involves the tendency of some to go to extremes with what one believes or practices or teaches others. It is very much the problem of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. One of their stated goals was to live the letter of the law to very best of their ability. But this religious extremism caused them to become unbalanced and displeasing to God. Let’s not think that this danger is insignificant or one with which only the Pharisees struggled. It is a problem for some people today.
Look at what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23-24 and Matthew 23:27-28:
Matthew 23:23-24 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
Matthew 23:27-28 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
We use words like the radical right and the ultra left to describe the two extremes: These aren’t always useful terms, for there’s no solid accepted definition to go by. Usually we define these terms: liberals and conservatives based on our own subjective and personal perspective. Someone who is looser than we are is liberal: someone who is stricter than we are is conservative. The fact is that, “You can fall off the log on either end,” so beware of the two extremes.
Evangelical Christians try not to be so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good and not so earthly minded that they are no heavenly good. They are progressive in that there is always room for improvement and they want to improve. They are conservative in that that they want change based upon the true and unchanging values in God’s Word. Change not rooted in or consistent with God’s Word is not change for the better!
We need to be less concerned with what others think and more concerned with what God thinks. If God’s position on something is conservative, that needs to be our position, regardless of where others stand. If God’s position on something is liberal, that needs to be my position, regardless of where others stand. We need to be open to the idea that both extremes: the radical right and ultra left may both be wrong. We need to balance the whole Word and will of God, rather than over-emphasizing one aspect of it.
Extremism is frequently the root cause of both 1) false doctrine and 2) discord and division, therefore, let’s beware of the potential dangers involved.
Over-reaction is similar to extremism, except here we’re talking about how people react to things and not just how they act on their own accord. 1. Over-reactions come in response to something that someone else does. 2. Over-reactions often come in the guise of repairing a false teaching or division.
Repairing a false doctrine: If a Church promoted a works oriented salvation, it’s possible to over-react and advocate “cheap grace” – a faith that is not preceded by repentance or followed by fruit, obviously both of these approaches are wrong.
Repairing discord or division: In an effort to promote unity, some have decided that it doesn’t matter about doctrine. If truth matters, doctrine (teaching) matters! If a parent is too permissive in discipline, the other parent may over react by becoming too strict.
Balance is the key, with our eye always fixed on the Word and will of God, determined to know and practice those things that are both: true and loving. Balance keeps things in perspective: Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. I am indebted to my mother in helping me to see the importance of balance. She used to say to me, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
We all know the importance of being proactive in preventing disease, don’t we? The secret to becoming and staying healthy is: preventing “disease” or could we say, “dis-ease”: 1) in body (physical); 2) in mind (mental/emotional/ volitional); 3) in spirit; and 4) in our relationships as much as possible.
If we’re living a highly healthy life, we’ll be too “blessed” to be too stressed or depressed. While genes are important, our daily lifestyle decisions are more important (cf. appendix). Some scientists say in determining longevity: lifestyle is 80% and genes are only 20%.
What we’re saying here is that, in large measure, we determine our own destiny as far as becoming and remaining a highly healthy person. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that we have a sacred duty to be pro-active about our own self-care. God says: our bodies are the temple of the Spirit and we need to honor God in our bodies. God wants us to be as healthy as possible but “health” must not become an idol.
By beginning with a single strategic step and continuing to improve on a daily basis, you’ll be on your way to becoming a healthy and biblical balanced person. One helpful place to begin is to evaluate where you are right now. You can use the internet to take a worldview test or a lifestyle profile. Just as a car needs an oil change, you may need a check up from the neck up. There are many different areas that affect our overall health.
Just as a Church needs to be committed to becoming as healthy and balanced as possible, so does the Christian. We all aspire to be both biblical faithful and culturally relevant. We don’t want to be so heavenly minded we are no earthly good and… We don’t want to be so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good.
While no one ever achieves perfect balance in this life time, as we understand this biblical principle and seek to follow the example of Jesus Christ in the way He matured and developed (In wisdom and stature and favor with God and man – Luke 2:52) we’ll become better adjusted, more well-rounded and enjoy the kind of life that John described in: John 10:10b, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
May God give us wisdom in our daily decision making and may He give us the desire and power to grow and develop in a way that is pleasing to Him.