God tells us in His Word that when it comes to balance we are to use a fair and just measure, since that is how things were bought and sold centuries ago – placing the item on a scale with a specific weight on the other side to determine the item’s value. This is mentioned several times in scripture so we can take note that it is an important principle, even though we don’t use that method for buying and selling anymore. (Proverbs 11:1, Proverbs 16:11, Leviticus 19:36, Deuteronomy 25:15) It is important enough to apply to other areas of our lives today.
We all know that life is like a teeter-totter, having ups and downs throughout its entirety. And many of us are challenged by the juggling of everything we are involved in, struggling for balance. The well-known passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 lays out plainly that all of life is meant to be balanced. And we have all been exhorted by preachers, teachers and bloggers to be sure we don’t let other things take over the priority God is supposed to have in our lives…and we have probably all been guilty of doing just that, I know I have. Even Jesus’ dear friend, Martha, was corrected by our Savior for being a little too concerned about the responsibilities of hosting guests. “38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with [a]all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NASB)
This an important lesson, but this isn’t exactly what I have been thinking about concerning balance, although it is the same principle. And as is the case with other areas where we are told to maintain a proper balance, it is extremely easy to slide into living out of balance. It can happen without us even realizing it. To make things worse, it is an area that people are generally very reluctant to admit might be out of balance in their lives…their spiritual endeavors.
For instance, look at this scripture passage. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees! Hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and you overlook the weightiest things of Torah: Judgment and Mercy and Faith. And these things were necessary for you to have done, and these things you should not have forgotten.” Matthew 23:23 (AENT) Yes, they added lots of extras to their interpretation of the Law given to Moses, and Jesus was not pleased about that. Yet, for as devoted as the Pharisees were to keeping the Torah, I question whether they would knowingly neglect important aspects of it and intentionally unbalance the perfect balance God originally gave.
Now let’s “fast forward” 2000 years. It is not uncommon to see people use Scripture for their own purposes. Even sincere Christians, people we see as very godly individuals, often use the Scriptures to reinforce their own private interpretations of the Bible and of life. Have you ever heard of a preacher or teacher who is well-known for his or her “pet doctrine” – a topic they are so stuck on that they can teach of little or nothing else? Example: prosperity doctrine. Now consider the ordinary believer, not particularly a preacher or teacher. I knew a lady many years ago who was such a nice person and I enjoyed spending time with her…for a while. We were both happy to have found a new Christian friend and I looked forward to talking about God’s Word over coffee. It wasn’t long, however, before she wanted to know if I spoke in tongues and did I have a “prayer tongue.” To make it brief, she made it clear that I was only half a Christian because I didn’t speak in tongues. Efforts to talk about other scriptural subjects didn’t get off the ground. Her total focus was on tongues as if there were nothing else in the Bible. Did she intentionally ignore the many other exhortations in the Word of God concerning fellowship with other believers? I don’t think so.
I am acquainted with a person who is so stuck on how modern churches are ignoring the Feast Days that God told Moses to teach the people, that he disregards everything else at this point. And there is the similar situation where people learn volumes of information about the Bible and related subjects, but find no need to continually renew their minds with the teachings of Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc. As I said, it can happen without us even realizing it.
We are created with different interests and some things will captivate our interest much more than others. There is no harm in learning a great deal about those things. The harm comes in letting balance slip into unbalance. Sometimes the situation sneaks up on us and we find ourselves thinking we should read something from the Bible each day, but what? “I’ve read the gospels so many times, I know what they say” or “I’ve been a believer for 46 years so I don’t need that basic elementary stuff” …and we mindlessly read what we are bored with and become stagnant. Or we develop a new subject to focus all of our study upon. Things like the prosperity doctrine, Charismatic manifestations, pre-tribulation rapture, spiritual warfare, etc.
In John 5:39 the Lord Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures, because in them you think you have that life that is eternal, and they testify concerning me." (AENT) That word "search" means to thoroughly examine, investigate, explore, to comb through; implying a good deal of diligence and effort in finding the truth that is there… ALL of it.
Selective Bible study could be called “Christian myopia.” Myopia is more commonly known as “nearsightedness” and it is easy to see how selective study resembles the eye condition we call nearsightedness. We know there is more out there but it is blurry and indistinct to us. Being selective in what one studies is contrary to what Jesus Himself tells us in that scripture. He reminds us that the Scriptures testify of Him. Why would anyone want to miss any of what our Messiah has to teach us? Could it be a self-important image they are trying to maintain? If so, they don’t come to Scripture to learn what is there; only to endorse what they wish to see there.
In this scripture, Jesus urged them to “search” the Scriptures, to go through the whole Bible with a teachable mindset. How else can our character be molded and conformed (Romans 8:29) into the image of Christ, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds? (Romans 12:2) This is not to say that at certain times, certain types of scripture aren’t helpful. For instance I’ve spent much time reading the psalms as I have been trying to endure the very long (three years and counting) valley God has seen fit to bless me with. I assure you, it feels nothing like a blessing but I know He has my good in mind (Romans 8:28) so I find myself adding more Psalms to my reading these days, as a little extra comfort.
We need balance. We need to be thinking about scripture in its fullness because it transforms us, and helps us draw nearer to God so He can draw nearer to us. We will acquire a deeper understanding of what His will is when we saturate ourselves with His whole Word. Think about the scriptures – let your mind meditate upon the richness of the spiritual food that is there.
Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV)
3”And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”