Did you ever try to do a wheelie on your bicycle? How far could you go? I was lucky to get five to ten feet. It was always a thrill, though, for the 1.5 seconds my front wheel dangled aloft –like I was levitating. Any idea what the current world record is? It’s 18 miles! 18 miles maneuvered through the city streets of Latina, Italy by Yuri Urbani. It took him 73 minutes. My 1.5 seconds doesn’t even qualify as laughable. Thanks, Yuri.
Performing a wheelie requires a delicate balance between pedal speed and body position. It takes tons of practice.
The same is true when it comes to skilful application of Scripture. We need a sense of biblical balance that only comes with spiritual maturity and lots of practice. Biblical balance means that I use the teachings of the Bible in a way that allows all of them to work together as a team, each one playing their proper part. This permits the Bible to be skillfully applied to my life--giving me and others its full benefit. Biblical imbalance, on the other hand, occurs when I have a heavy emphasis on certain truths while downplaying others. This creates all sorts of spiritual problems.
How do I maintain a biblical balance?
1. I maintain a biblical balance by keeping in mind the whole counsel of Scripture.
2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
If all Scripture is God-breathed and useful, then all of Scripture is meant to be used and each Bible verse has a role to play. Consider a building analogy: a stack of lumber is not a house. Before it can become one, each board must be put in place. One board keeps another board in its proper position. Together they create floors and walls.
The Bible also is full of balancing truths which hold each other in their proper place. Here are a few examples:
· Learn Bible facts(Psalm 1:2)—but don’t just learn them, obey them too (James 1:22)
· Discipline our children (Deut. 32:46)—but discipline them without unnecessarily exasperating them (Eph. 6:4)
· Wives submit to husbands(Eph. 5:22-24) —but husbands should be worth submitting to by loving their wives as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25-32)
· Obey the government(Rom. 13:1-7)—but disobey the government if it tells you to sin (Acts 4:19,20)
· Work hard to follow God(Phil. 2:12)—but don’t trust in your own efforts, trust in God(Prov. 3:5,6)
Do you see why these balancing truths are so important? Any one of these truths, taken by itself, to its extreme, could ruin us.
Most of us have our favorite part of the house of God’s truth. Certain Bible teachings especially capture our attention or appeal to us. One of the signs of maturity, however, is that we keep in mind the big picture as we make decisions and judgments. 1. I maintain a biblical balance by keeping in mind the whole counsel of Scripture.
2. I maintain a biblical balance by being aware of God’s bottom line concerns
Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
What was the Pharisees’ problem?
Let me give you an analogy. Suppose you look over and see your neighbor’s house is burning. Sprinting across the yard you charge into the house just in time to view your neighbor vacuuming in the living room.
“Hey! Your house is burning!” you shout.
“My what?” he says, turning off the vacuum cleaner.
“Your house is burning!” you repeat.
“Oh. Okay. Thanks. Well, I’d better get back to work, this carpet is has cookie crumbs on it.”
“But your house . . .”
“I heard you. But I’ll never get this carpet done if I keep stopping.”
The Pharisees were like this neighbor. They’d lost all sense of proportion. They were vacuuming crumbs while their house burned. What mattered most-that they gave God just the right amount of spices or that they gave Him their hearts?
Notice that while all Scripture matters, some of God’s commands are more important or weightier than others. These are God’s underlying reasons for commanding everything else; God’s “bottom line.” Here are a some of them:
- God wants us to love Him with all we’ve got (Mt. 22:37)
- God wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mt. 22:39)
- God wants us to receive His salvation (Rom. 10:9)
- God wants us to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:16)
- God wants us to make disciples (Matt. 28-16-20)
- God wants us to become like Christ (2 Cor. 3:18)
When these weightier commands are our main focus then the more secondary commands will usually fall into place. We’ll follow God in the details because we keep a sense of the big picture. On the other hand if, like the Pharisees, we ignore the weightier commands, that’s when the “ugly religion” starts to appear; vicious fights over doctrine, greed for stuff, lack of concern for the lost, self-centeredness and moral laxity.
3. I maintain a biblical balance by being sensitive to the dominant need of the moment.
Maintaining biblical balance means that we learn to apply whatever truth is most essential in each situation. The needs will vary. We get a sense of this from Paul in I Thessalonians 5:14,15:
1 Thess. 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Whileevery biblical truth matters, sometimes a particular truth needs to be emphasized at the moment. For example, while it’s good to pray for a job, there’s also a time to get off your knees and start filling out job applications. There’s a time to comforta man whose wife has left him, but also a time to make him uncomfortable if she’s left him due to his selfish behavior. There are times to speak your mind and times to let it go, times to introspect and times to forget ourselves. Spiritual maturity is learning to sense what biblical truth is most needed at the moment to bring balance.
A few years back my friend Vaughn and I sang a duet -- “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”. I did the harmony part. Harmony is a strange thing. You have to learn to hear it in your head first; to sense what will sound good before you sing it. Every note you could choose will not fit. This takes practice.
The same is true of biblical balance. By keeping in mind all of Scripture, and God’s weightier commands we get a good sense of the Bible’s overall melodies. Then by focusing on the Scripture that’s most needed at a particular moment we can sing a note that’s in beautiful harmony with the main melodies of Scripture. It’s a thrill to hear that note ring true; a joy to sense the Spirit singing with us.