”Are you so heavenly minded that you are no earthy good? Are you so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good?”
--Dr. Steven Rice
We live in a world where people live in extremes. But, as is the principle of Eccl. 3:1-8 and Romans 10:2, I believe believers ought to live in a healthy balance.
Let me say by word of qualification before I elaborate further that there are areas in a Christian life that need NOT be balanced. We believers ought to kill sin before it kills us, thus the need for extreme measures to achieve it if need be. Love for God is first and foremost before love for fellow men. And refusal to evangelize is tantamount to ingratitude for what Christ has done for us. We have to regard as sin what God regards as sin, and NOT to regard as sin what God does NOT regard as sin (even believers have the tendency to the latter, oftentimes in subtle ways, which is tantamount to adding to the Scriptures and/or despising God's creation).
However in areas that are neither commanded nor prohibited, neither black nor white, the pursuit of Biblical balance is vital because leaning to one extreme or the other can become (not always immediately is) a heresy. For example, you may want too badly to marry, or maybe you are tempted to be impatient. So what you do to resolve the problem is to view marriage as an abomination (asceticism) and thus not marry at all, or keep delaying the time to move forward even if the time is right. Just because you’re afraid to kill, does that mean you will never use a knife? Or learn to drive a car? Just because you’re afraid/tempted to get too close or too attached to a brother/sister not your spouse, does it mean you can no longer see him for what he really is: brother/sister in Christ, a friend, treat him as such, (and maybe even develop a healthy close relationship with him if permissible)?
The Pharisees were themselves extremists. They thought what they were doing was right, but actually their religious extremism was displeasing to God, that Jesus openly called them hypocrites (Matthew 23).
We too have that tendency to overreact to things, which comes in response to what someone does, or a guise of repairing a false doctrine.
If a parent is too permissive to a child, another parent can overreact by being too strict. Since we ought not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, women's criteria for a husband is elder material. If one church advocates salvation by works, another church, to counter such, can overreact by advocating salvation without works at all. If one church does not preach repentance, one church can overreact by over-impressing upon a person his sins, forgetting that there IS cleansing in Christ who promised rest (Matt. 11:28)--and thus they appear self-righteous and judgmental. Thus balance is also vital since, if not pursued, there will always be discord and divisions even within a local church--add to that our tendency to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Even in preaching to, teaching, and ministering to others, the emphasis of one point ought not to diminish the importance of another. The need to store treasures in Heaven can be over-emphasized at the expense of legitimate earthly prosperity and the need to diligently work; the duty to give offerings to God, at the expense of responsible and faithful stewardship, and of "[rendering] to Caesar the things that are Caesar's".
But Jesus was balanced in every way. For one, it was His purpose for coming to earth to heal souls, yet He took the time to heal the sick, the blind, the paralyzed, and even raise a corpse, without losing focus of His priorities. Luke also says He grew in favor with God and man (Luke 2). He is our perfect example.
So we too have to pursue a Biblically balanced Christian life, and here are some ways to do so: (list is inexhaustive)
- Neither judgmental nor ignorant/oblivious
- Neither slothful nor unrestrained
- Neither carnal nor ascetic
- Neither impatient nor procrastinating
- Knowing when to speak and when not to
- What to say and what not to say
- When to be serious and when to take lightly
- When to overlook and when to confront
- When to encourage and when to hurt
- Sorrowful yet looking up
- Both a student and a teacher of the Word
- Spiritual and physical health care
- Patient yet importune
- Trusting but diligent
- Careful but not too cautious (unless of course it kills or robs you)
- Generous yet responsible
- Optimistic or pessimistic but realistic
- Protective but not over-protective
- Being at peace with all men, but God-pleasers
- God-, others-centered and personal, private and public prayers
- Needers yet not lovers of money
And the list can go on and on. And although we cannot attain to that perfect balance, like holiness it is a pursuit that makes us different from the world.