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Balance Promotes Love

 

 

 

(Ecclesiastes 7:18 NIV)  It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.

 

 (Luke 2:52 NIV)  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

 

(Micah 6:8 NIV)  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

 

(2 Corinthians 4:10 NIV)  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

 

(Proverbs 16:25 NIV)  There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

 

(Matthew 7:14 NIV)  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

 

(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV)  For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

 

The life of Jesus reflected His teachings on the Sermon of the Mount.  One of the distinguishing marks of His life and His teachings was an emphasis on being a balanced person—not given to extremes.  The same Lord that taught us to, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” also taught, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

 

Whereas Jesus said in one place, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” He said in another, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

 

Jesus encouraged us about following the right road and warned us about following the wrong one, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

 

Every beatitude mentioned in the first eleven verses had counterpart beatitudes resulting in a synthesis.  For example:

 

Matthew 5:3 teaches: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The first attitude is about being aware of our limits—knowing that we don't know it all and can't do it all.  When we realizing that we are so poor in righteousness that we can only look up to Heaven to be redeemed, we will be truly happy and satisfied.  The next verse, Matthew 5:4, is the antithesis of 5:3: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” When we are leveled and aware of our limitations we could become very judgmental of those who are not aware of their constraints.  We could become church-policemen and defeat the very humility we want to achieve to be intimate with God.  Therefore, it is important for us to be able to empathize with their situation.  The verb Jesus uses, to mourn, denotes the degree of emotion that is to be employed in being able to relate with those who do not understand.  They are not to be condemned, criticized or made fun of, but saved by the blood of Jesus through your ministry of reconciliation.  Judging and condemning will not comfort your soul, only alienate you even more from the intimacy of Christ.  Only when you are able to mourn will you be comforted.  Only when compassion rules your thoughts will the Comforter give you solace.  When you begin to weep for those who are lost and crucify yourself so that you may live for others is when you are approaching the heart of the Master.  The last verse in this first trio, the synthesis, is Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Being poor in Spirit (humble) and compassionate towards your antagonists (mournful) will produce a gentle soul.  Truly happy and satisfied, Jesus says, are the gentle (meek, which means ‘power under control’).  The meek will win souls because they carry about the death of Jesus in their bodies (have crucified their desires: 2 Corinthians 4:10) so that the life of Jesus is evident within their love (the love of Jesus compels them: 2 Corinthians 5:14).

 

As humans living in the flesh we tend to favor extremes.  The heart of man is about following extreme paths.  That’s why following it leads to death (Proverbs 16:25).  Only in and with Jesus can we walk the narrow road that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).

 

In His Footsteps © 1998                                                   

 

 

 

QUIET TIMES

Balance Promotes Love

 

 

 

MONDAY

A balanced person doesn’t just believe, he lives.  You have nothing to live for unless you have something to die for. “Talking religion without living religion is not a balanced religion.” –Willard Collins, The Sermon on the Mount.  Read 1 Corinthians 4:20.  Are we just to talk about what we believe?  What kind of power is Paul talking about here?  Read 2 Timothy 1:7.  What kind of Spirit has God given you?  Read Ephesians 3:20.  Can God do more than what you imagine with you?  By whose power?  Where is this power at work?  Read Philippians 4:13.  Can you do everything that is right?  Who is it that gives you strength?  What happens when you think you don’t have strength?  Read Romans 8:11-14.  Who’s Spirit lives in you?  Do you believe this?  If you do then you will let God’s Spirit do His work—the work of re-creating you in His image (Titus 3:4-8).  Read Ephesians 3:16.  Who strengthens you?  How does God strengthen you?  So, are you able to do ALL things?  If God’s Spirit lives in you then He affects ALL areas of your life, not just some, if you believe and submit to Him.

TUESDAY

Read Romans 7 & 8:1-16.  These two chapters of Romans deal with how your sinful nature becomes a hindrance to your relationship with God (Romans 7:9-13). Since you live in the flesh, your tendency is to want to follow your sinful nature (Romans 7:5, 6, 14-21) because you identify primarily with it.  The sinful nature is extremist.  It only desires to please itself and will go to extremes to do so (Romans 7:23; 8:7, 8).  Whether you indulge in food, sexual immorality or the spending of money for your pleasures, giving into the sinful nature will cause you to go to extremes because you are operating in manipulation mode (Luke 8:14; 2 Timothy 3:2-5; Titus 3:3; James 4:4), which is selfishness.  When you make up your mind to live according to your spiritual nature, then you are in ministry mode, talking and doing to serve others, not yourself (Romans 8:5; Philippians 2:3-7).  Your character, speech, actions and walk will be balanced and righteous.  You can control the sinful nature by subjecting it to your spiritual desires (Romans 7:6; Romans 8:9-14; 1 Corinthians 9:25-27).  It is not easy, but you must not give up this spiritual training (Romans 8:6; Galatians 6:7-10).  Remember from Monday’s quiet time, you CAN DO IT through God’s Spirit living in you!

WEDNESDAY

One of the ways you can get out of sync with the spirit within you is by allowing yourself to get bitter. Ephesians 4:29-32.  Have you let yourself get offended recently?  Is it your tendency to get offended by what others tell you?  If this is so, you may have pride you need to get rid of.  When you disregard how your talk can impact others you are pride-filled and given to bitterness. What does this do to the Holy Spirit within you?  Pride and self-flattery causes you to become bitter as opposed to better, because you refuse to submit and learn—prevents you from having a pliable and moldable heart. Read Hebrews 12:7-15.  How should you think about the hardship you need to endure at work, home, etc?  How does God discipline you (2 Timothy 3:16, 17)?  Why does God discipline you (verse 10))?  Is discipline pleasant while you’re receiving it?  Why should you endure it, then?  What happens if you don’t have the holiness produced by the training in righteousness (verse 14b)?  Notice how verse 15 treats discipline as ‘God’s grace’.  What will grow up that can cause trouble and defilement if we miss God’s grace?   Bitterness is a product of forgetting about God’s grace.  Read James 3:13-18.  What kind of deeds are you to do?  How will you know to do these deeds?  Will you do these things if you harbor bitter envy?  Notice how bitterness is described in terms of envy in this passage.   Bitterness is the result of being in “manipulation mode”.  What kind of wisdom and deeds result from being in “ministry mode”?  Is there any bitterness in godly wisdom?

THURSDAY

Proper encouragement is powerful when it is balanced.  Too often we think of encouragement as having to do only with positive statements, like: “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; give support to; foster or hearten.” American Heritage Dictionary, 1992.  Additionally, to encourage at times may involve negative stimulation like spurring (Hebrews 10:24).  The Hebrew word translated as spur in the NIV, stimulate in the NAS, provoke in the KJV and encourage in God’s Word Translation is paroxusmos.  The definition is: “incitement (to good), or dispute (in anger):--contention, provoke unto.”  Jesus made many positive statements to encourage and motivate us, but He also admonished us using negative statements such as correction and rebuke, when necessary. While some of us may be conflict-evaders and in need of being assertive in our admonishments to others, some of us may be too aggressive in our confrontations and need to practice gentle admonishment (Look up admonish in a good dictionary).  Read Hosea 2:14; 11:4, 8, 9.  How does the Lord treat us when He disciplines us?  He approaches us desiring to give us a second chance.  If you don’t repent, then you need to be careful, for He will come in anger (Hosea 13:1-9).  So you need to react to your brothers properly when you encourage: Matthew 18: 15-17; 21-35; James 5:19-20; Proverbs 10:12; 17:9; 1 Peter 4:8.  Be balanced and always give the benefit of the doubt!  Being too strong or too weak is being extreme!

FRIDAY

Being balanced is being tempered or even-keeled in character.  Personality changes will show where balance is taking place.  Some extremes are easy to notice: cowardice vs. restlessness; shyness vs. bluntness; lazy vs. workaholic; passive vs. aggressive; perfectionist vs. disorganized; impatience vs. indecisiveness.  Our excuses cannot be: “I can’t do this!  It’s too hard!  I was born this way!  It’s my natural reaction!”  Review Monday’s Quiet Times in light of how you have allowed God to reshape your character.  Read 2 Corinthians 13:5.  Subject yourself to a brother or a sister’s examination of your character.  Let them tell you five positive things about you and three negative ones.  Discuss with them a plan of action for you to employ to rid yourself of these character flaws.  Remember 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  If a character trait doesn’t promote love, then it is sinful.

 

The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.Ecclesiastes 7:18

 

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