Bible Insights,  Devotions

Spiritual Growth and the Myth of Balance

If we googled how to live a balanced life, there would be no shortage of articles, blog posts, and book suggestions for any number of quick steps to becoming more balanced. The search for answers to balancing work, home, friends, hobbies, weight, and other practical life issues is just a click away.

Any yet, many people, especially women, would say they still struggle to juggle all the demands of life and don’t feel like they are managing them well. Their categories of daily life are disproportionate. They feel guilty over not giving everything equal weight and time. It is a struggle of the human condition.

What about our spiritual lives? Is balance a biblical concept? Should it be our goal?

As Christians, we live between the now and not yet. Both these truths are being lived out simultaneously. Through salvation, we are given a new nature and identity, but we are in process toward our future home and inheritance. Christians live in an earthen vessel with a heavenly mindset. This creates spiritual tension and frustration at times when we forget who we are in Christ and our purpose for living.

Seeking spiritual balance is not the goal. Believers are called to “put away” our old ways and “put on” the new in Ephesians 4:22-32. This ongoing transformation within our spirit through the Spirit of God causes tension between our now and not yet. Trying to give God parts of our time and lives makes us weary in soul, mind, and spirit. That is not God’s heart for us. His way of total surrender seems paradoxical and strange to our human hearts, because we crave to do and be all. Having the world is not possible. Seeking Christ first leads to our lives having order and peace.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 ESV

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 ESV

The “things” being referred to in Matthew 6:33 are the worldly cares that we as flesh and bone grow anxious over. What will we eat? What shall we drink? What will we wear? As we read this passage, balance is not what God is asking of us. Our overriding command is to seek first the things of God. He then provides all we need. Knowing Christ is hard to accomplish when relegated to tiny cracks of time in our busy lives. He is not another item on our to-do list. If we treat Him as such, the peace and joy of knowing Christ will be traded for an anxious, never-quite satisfied relationship with God. When we try to balance our spiritual life with our physical one, we will never be at rest. We will spin in circles trying to figure out how to become something through our own efforts to manage it all.

Balance: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.

What keeps us steady as we face the daily tensions of walking between faith and sight? What does the Bible say about balance?

Our culture falsely equates harmony and peace with balance. But the term balance can set unrealistic expectations. Women today are bombarded with the notion that balance is the key to dealing with stress and tension – even within our spiritual lives. Balance implies we must hold or juggle all the balls in the right proportions to keep moving forward. We are expected to keep the balls moving and not let any of them drop. Work, family, church, fun, responsibility, and personal time with God are all important, but they cannot be given equal measure of attention in a day. While we must tend to responsibility, God never called us to balance in terms of holding everything together to create harmony within our souls.

God does not call us to balance. God calls us to obedience. He calls us to love Him supremely. This does not sound like the worldly concept of balance. It sounds like some things are meant to be forfeited for the greater grace of knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. The world offers many things. We often try to chase it all to the detriment of our spiritual health.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

Do we juggle between resting in Christ and striving to become more like Him, or should we be living both simultaneously? Which one has greater weight?

Weeds will fill the cracks we leave exposed and void of truth.

Instead of balance, God calls us to be healthy of mind, body, soul, and spirit. If we are so busy juggling all the things the world says we need to be or do, how do we have time to give God preeminence? Is God one of the balls we juggle to make time for all the other things? I hear this answered with a yes so often when people ask how I found time as a young mom, homeschool mom, writer, or as a person involved in ministry to study Scripture and seek God. God’s plan is never for us to squeeze Him in the cracks of our lives. He is life. Apart from Him, there is no purpose or peace. A life surrendered will look lopsided to the world.

When we do not approach our spiritual lives from a place of rest, the tension we feel leads to frustration. If we are constantly stressed about spending time with God or practicing spiritual disciplines, that is not from God. We have created the stress. At this point we have lost the love and gratitude that motivates sincere growth in a Christian’s life. In Matthew 11:28 God says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If we don’t feel restful even as we wrestle toward Christlikeness, we may have made balance an idol.

We must be all in with Him.

The Bible warns against being lukewarm as the body of Christ in Revelation 3:16. Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters”. Approaching the battle between our flesh and spirit without abiding in Him will yield greater tension within these biblical concepts that feel at odds.

How did Jesus demonstrate living as a man on the earth? Christ was fully divine and fully man. [See John 1:14, Colossians 2:9, Philippians 2:7.] We have a hard time wrapping our minds around both truths being fact. We wrestle with the questions this poses. If He were fully man, could He sin? If He were fully God, then how could He be tempted to sin? God did not have to balance his humanity with His deity. His human emotions were real as He agonized over His crucifixion (Luke 22:44). He understood the pain required to save the world and asked the Father if it could pass from Him. But if not, He would humbly bear what we could not. Christ let who He was dictate how his flesh behaved in the world. This is our example.

We must replace the concept of spiritual balance with a life hidden in Christ. Our real struggle comes from learning to abide in one truth while coexisting with the reality of the other. If both are true, then both should be present. Through losing a child and my mother, I wrestled with how to balance joy and sorrow. What did God teach me? Balance is futile. I am human and will grieve. But as a person led by the Spirit, I don’t grieve without hope. This hope is a grace to see the joy that is set before me. There may be times when the sorrow outweighs my emotional happiness, but it never replaces my joy. Because my joy is Christ. Emotions do not override the joy of our salvation. Satan will try to steal our joy, but God will give victory to those who seek Him. Grief over tragic loss never fully leaves us this side of Heaven. With God’s grace, we learn to live within our humanness as redeemed people. Sorrow is a part of my story, but it is not all, or the biggest part of God’s story being told in me. Joy and hope are the foundation that grief and longing sit on. Recognizing the reality of living between these opposing and paradoxical places helps us to live at peace in the waiting. We don’t need balance. We need to remain faithful.

The solution in dealing with the tensions we feel living between the now and not yet is not balance but grace. God’s grace keeps us steady. Only then are we able to live in this place between without wearing ourselves out trying to restore balance between a life that is dead and the new life we now live unto Christ.

Do you find yourself frustrated trying to balance your relationship with God with your physical life? Are you all in with Jesus today?

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