Since I have become older, there are two sticks that have helped me navigate life. The first one is a pickup stick which enables me to pick up things that I have dropped (which happens far too often). We have four of them strategically placed around our home. The second one is a walking stick, which helps me avoid falling over (which is a real problem for older people). This stick provides balance. My physical therapist has even given me exercises to help with my balance. However, balance is not only for the natural realm. It is also needed in the spiritual realm. So, I want to look at the concept of this spiritual balance in this letter.
BALANCE IS NOT COMPROMISE
I have discovered that people often misunderstand balance in Christian beliefs by thinking balance is a compromise. I remember reading about a speaker who once came across the same problem. He wrote, “There is one particular word that seems to be causing a great deal of confusion and concern today in the body of Christ. That word is “balance.” Some have felt that balance equates with compromise, that if a person strives for balance in his faith life then he is not standing totally on the Word of God” (Stan Fortenberry Ministries, n.d.).
There are many verses in the Bible that give us an understanding regarding the need for balance. Paul, for example, understood the need for balance when he wrote in Ephesians 4:13-14 (NKJV), “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
In other words, we are not to be spiritual children turning from this to that, but we are to be mature and put it all together. Be balanced mature.
BALANCE IN THE BIBLE
In the Old Testament, there are a number of verses that speak of balance.
Ecclesiastes 7:18 (NIV), “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
Hosea 7:8 (NKJV), “Ephraim is a cake unturned.” The famous preacher Charles H. Spurgeon had this to say about that verse, “A cake not turned is soon burned on the side nearest the fire. Although no man can have too much religion, there are some who seem burned black with bigoted zeal for the part of the truth which they have received, or are charred to a cinder with a vain-glorious pharisaic ostentation of those religious performances which suit their humor” (bibleportal.com).
Proverbs 11:1 (NIV), “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.” This is a picture in the natural that is symbolic of the spiritual (See also Proverbs 16:11).”
Ecclesiastes 3 has a list that is a description of the opposites that produce balance in life.
Someone once said, “A heresy is a truth taken too far.” That is often the case, and it is not new. It happened back in the New Testament days. 2 John 9 (NASB) reads, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.”
So often, teachers and people get hold of a biblical concept, push it too far, and neglect other things the Bible says, or they omit the other side of it all. You can see this happen with a lot of Christian beliefs such as:
- God’s sovereignty and man’s free will
- The Word and the Spirit
- Faith and works
- Law and Grace
- Fruit of the Spirit and Gifts of the Spirit
- Judgment and mercy
- Etc., etc., etc.
THE ACTUAL & THE IDEAL
An excellent example of the tension between two extremes is the tension between the ideal and the real; between the actual and the ideal. Derek Prince, a renowned Bible teacher, wrote, “There are two things: the actual and the ideal. To be mature is to see the ideal and live with the actual. To fail is to accept the actual and reject the ideal; and to accept only that which is ideal and refuse the actual is to be immature. Do not criticize the actual because you have seen the ideal; Do not reject the ideal because you see the actual. Maturity is to live with the actual but hold on to the ideal” (derekprince.org).
AN EXAMPLE OF THE NEED FOR BALANCE
Let’s look at the need for balance in the area of the prophetic ministry.
End-Time Prophecy. In the day in which we live, there are many words given about what the future holds. Often they are given in the form of prophecies which generally fall into two categories.
- Gloom & Doom – These prophecies speak of hard times, the coming of judgment, persecution, etc., often in conjunction with Biblical references to the end times (2 Timothy 3:1-8, 2 Peter 3:1-7). Matthew 24:4 (NASB) reads, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.”
- Revival is Coming – These prophecies speak glowingly of good times coming, of revival hitting the world, of people being swept into the Kingdom, again in conjunction with Biblical references to the end times (Acts 2:17-18). They often point to Ephesians 5 and the picture of the church, a glorious end-time church, a church without spot or wrinkle.
Just recently, Asher Intrater of Tikkun Global in Israel wrote, “I am concerned that among my friends who have strong prophetic gifts, there has been a trend toward imbalance in the last few years.
This imbalance often involves an intense and one-sided view of complex socio-political situations. It may be strongly for or against a political figure or issue. In fact, the very focus on the politics in itself is part of the imbalance.
Let us remember that Yeshua himself lived in an era under the Roman governor Pilate, who was the representative of an imperialistic dictatorship and known for acts of extreme cruelty” (ritg.org).
He then examines several scriptural passages where he feels the interpretation has become unbalanced.
BALANCE & PROPHECY REGARDING THE FUTURE
Going back to the end-time prophecies, I see a balance between coming judgment and coming revival. That may sound strange, but I believe in these coming days we will see both good times and bad times. There will be a mixture of both judgment and revival.
Back in 1998, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ called a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. The meeting was for the purpose of bringing together American Evangelical Leadership to consider the moral crisis in the country. The meeting involved about sixty people, and in the course of the day, a prophetic word was given by Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers. It included these words, “There is a hurricane coming. The church can see the winds even now, but the church is not prepared . . . there is a revival coming, but it will not be revival as it has come before. Will the church prepare? This revival will be served upon a platter of ruin.” (emphasis mine) (Quote summarized from a report of the meeting from Linda Rios Brook of Lakeland Foundation).
That word was given over twenty years ago, but it speaks to us today! Revival on a platter of ruin! In other words, in the midst of darkness, the light and glory of God will be seen. Revival is on its way.”
The passage that comes to mind for such a time as this is Isaiah 60:1-2 (NASB), “Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the Lord will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.”
In other words, the world will grow darker, but amid that darkness, the light of God’s glory will shine upon God’s people. Revival in a platter of ruin.
Recently, I received greetings on the occasion of my Birthday from a man who had been in my church over 25 years ago. He wrote, “One more thing… I was fairly new in my walk back in those days and one message on balance you gave has always stuck with me.The message was on the need for balance between His Word and the Holy Spirit, ‘If we have just the Word we dry up. If we just have the Holy Spirit we will burn up. But if we have then both together we grow up.’ I have always tried to keep in balance in my walk, in large part to your message.”
My theology is a theology of tension, holding seemingly opposing truths in creative tension with Christ and the cross at the center of it all.
Years ago, Pastor Jack Hayford wrote an article entitled A Remedy for Imbalance. Near the end of the article, he wrote, “The cross must command center stage in our lives, ever and always; and as participants in this revival, let us be certain it does in the charismatic movement as well. The cross is the fountainhead of all God’s wisdom, as well as the source of all His power (I Cor. 1:18-25; 2:1-40). Let’s start signing again, ‘Jesus, keep me near the cross'” (jackhayford.org).
Those are wise words, worth heeding. Let us be balanced believers who have Christ at the center of everything.
Stan Fortenberry Ministries (n.d.). Stan Fortenberry Ministries Newsletter. The Balanced Believer, 1-2.