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What is Balance Really?

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV / 541 helpful votes

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …

Dot Dot Dot Meaning and so on and so on and so on. We all have been there. We think about what season we are in and we try to hope that we are in the good seasons, but sometimes we are not. We are going to be in vallies and mountain tops but most of life is lived somewhere in-between so we need to have balance in our lives. The Bible contains few references to "balance" or similar words. In the Old Testament, "balance" is most often translated from the Hebrew word mo'zen, which refers to a pair of scales or balances. In the New Testament, the Greek word zugos comes from the root of zeugnumi, which means "to join, especially by a yoke." Vine's Expository Dictionary defines zugos as "a yoke," serving to couple two things together. In biblical times, balances or scales were not essentially different from the balances now in use. Sometimes they were suspended by a ring, and in other cases the crossbeams turned upon a pin at the summit of an upright pole, each end of the arm terminating in a hook, to which the precious metal to be weighed was attached in small bags. The balance is employed in Scripture as an emblem of justice and fair dealing.

Various scriptures on balances, such as Leviticus 19:36, speak of God's demands in trade: "You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt." Other references speak of measuring a person's character or integrity, as seen in Job 31:6: "Let me be weighed in a just balance, that God may know my integrity." Perhaps Proverbs 16:11 provides a clear idea of the spiritual intent of living and leading a balanced life: "A just weight and balance are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are His work." The proverb tells us that all things are God's and that He is and must always be the standard by which we measure everything. He and His character are true balance. In a figurative balance, God always tips the scales in relation to us; everything about God outweighs any capability, talent, capacity, or knowledge we have in comparison to God.

However, the question remains: What is a balanced way of life? Is there a one-size-fits-all definition of balance, or does God give a certain amount of leeway in how we live as a Christian versus how we live as "normal" human beings? It seems that the only certainty in life is God. The previous scriptures show God personifies justice, fairness, honesty, and righteousness, just a few traits of God’s total character. While God is limitless and almighty, God has placed Godself under certain constraints, such as time and law, so that we can better identify with God, God’s way of thinking, and God’s way of life. In the words and experiences of humanity within the pages of the Bible, God has given us a blueprint of how and how not to do things. We see the successes and the failures, the ups and the downs, all written for our edification and development.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV / 541 helpful votes

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; …

There is a time to do most things, but they must always be done by God's standards and not the world's. While God wants us to provide for our families, being a workaholic and failing as a mate or parent is not being balanced. God wants us to study God’s Word but not to the exclusion of everything else, especially one's other important responsibilities. There is a time to have fun but not when it affects more important personal, family, or spiritual needs. Balance is an aspect of godly love, as shown in Philippians 2:3-4: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others."

The Webster's New World Dictionary adds these definitions to the concept of balance: "a state of equilibrium or equipurpose; equality in amount, weight, value or importance, as between two things or the parts of a thing." It is "a mental or emotional stability, a harmonious proportion and a pleasing harmony of various elements in any given situation." If life consisted of only God and us individually, we could view many things we do from a one-size-fits-all perspective. Of course, this is not the case; life is full of interconnected relationships. We must then take other people, events, and things into account without sacrificing our personal relationship with God.

Consider marriage, for instance. God places two sometimes very different people, who look at life from different perspectives, in a relationship, expecting them to live harmoniously together. Good luck! From the world's success—or failure—rate, many couples do not find the balance it takes to make a marriage truly work. Sometimes, mental or emotional stability just does not exist, even within the marriages of God's people. From God's perspective, marriage is a lesson in learning balance. Some of the worse fights we may have is all due to not understanding each other’s points of view. Maybe we should have a point of view gun like in the movie Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that makes the person see the other’s point of view. That thing would be used all day long. Marriage seems like an impossible task of combining the characteristics of one person with the complementary characteristics of another to produce one flesh and one spirit. It is combining each spouse's efforts harmoniously, first between themselves and later adding children to the mix. Now the impossible just became harder. If left to our own devices, in certain areas, we will fail to reach the spiritual maturity to succeed.

So God exhorts us through the apostle Paul, "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please our neighbor for their good, leading to edification" (Romans 15:1-2). God uses this formula toward us, as one who is strong and willing to bear our weaknesses. How many times have you done something for someone because you knew they just could not handle it at that moment? I pack the car before a gig because I know Samuel’s mind needs to be other places. I packed the trailer yesterday because I knew he was tired and could not handle it. I put the music in order for gigs because I know that he works so hard for our family and the last thing he is going to think about is the music order. I through away Tyson's popcorn bags because I know he is not thinking about that but just needs a bit of time to be a kid after a long day at school. Samuel fixes my computer and makes the internet work because He knows that I need those things to do my life and have no idea how to make them work. We share in the responsibility of life when we live together and love each other.

Colossians 3 helps us define our priorities, giving us a blueprint to help us in our efforts to gain (or regain) a balanced life. Real balance starts out with our relationship with God and then it is paramount that we put away the old self. We must replace it with Christ's righteous character, and we do this slowly and methodically throughout our remaining time of conversion. Then Paul delineates the character of this new Person:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (verses 11-17).

This next part can be a hard one to swallow because we see it through our broken lives. Paul finishes by giving us specific areas to work on:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as people-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. . . . Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. (verses 18-22; 4:1)

In essence, treat each other with dignity and respect. Listen to one another and try to see it from the other’s perspective. When you argue, because you will, take the time to not just accuse but take a breath and remember the love you have for one another and try to live in that love even if you may not agree. None of us is the same. We have different backgrounds, education, and experiences, but God overcomes these differences. Balance is putting into action those things that are God-centered and God-inspired and refusing to do those that are selfish and unhelpful.


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