Life Balance


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2: 15

Almost everyone uses tools as a part of the what we do during the course of a day. For some, there is a specialized set that are designed to equip their operator with what is required by the task at hand. These implements may be a mechanic’s wrenches and gauges or they might be the scalpels, forceps, and suture needles of a surgeon. Most of us also use words and the language that is formed up out of them in various ways as we go about doing the tasks that we have been called upon to perform by God and by society. This is the area of concern that Paul is discussing with Timothy and with us. The Apostle cares about the way that we express and describe our faith in Christ, and as we go about the ever-present task of speaking about Christ, Paul makes it clear that God’s Word is something that is to be taken seriously and that it is to be handled with care and with respect.

God did many remarkable things in the process of inspiring and empowering the creation of His Word. It is a unique document in all of the history of this world, for it spans an enormous range of time, has multitudes of authors, was written in several languages, and represents a full range of humanity’s experience of living on earth as people that are called upon by God to dwell here as His chosen care takers and workers in the various and variable fields that have been provided to us to cultivate over the course of those centuries of history. Truth is contained in those pages, and the truth that is present there is one that leads people out of death and into life. This real and ever-applicable divine truth speaks to all occasions and to all situations that have ever presented themselves to people and to our societies. God’s truth informs us of His love, justice, grace, mercy, and holiness in a manner that we can seek to live out these holy characteristics in our lives.

So, do not be mistaken in this, if a person is a follower of Christ, then that person is also called by God to be a worker for the sake of the glory of Christ’s name and in the various fields of God’s kingdom here and now on earth. In order to do this work most effectively, we need to be equipped with the tools of our trade in Christ, and these are the spoken words of the gospel of Christ and the lived out language of love, service, and care for others that is Christ’s model. Paul is charging us with the responsibility to be careful and wise workers, ones that stay true to God’s Word and that follow the leading of the Spirit rather than the new revelations that people are continually attempting to set forth as revised and better understanding of God’s will. God’s Word is not fragile, it will not be broken by even the roughest of workers, and it will endure until the end of days when Christ, Himself, is again upon this earth in the flesh. So, we who are called to labor for the gospel in the name of Christ, can be confident in taking up that word of truth and in allowing it to guide all that we think, do, and say.        

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12: 2 

We live on the inside of a large, ever present mold, and there are pressures being exerted upon everyone to manipulate and to form us into a replica of that shaping form. Some of its contours are easy to accept and others are hard and sharp-edged. The pressure that is placed upon us that is intended to cause us to fit into the configuration that the owner of the mold desires can be mild but it does get ramped up to the point of being extreme at times. The presence of these shaping forces is something that never leaves us in this life; however, we do get to make some choices in these matters. We can accept certain influences as we can also reject others. So, we can seek out the master of the mold that we would like to have influencing the life that we will live, and we can choose to submit to the type of master that we believe will take us in the right and true direction.

This choice of masters is something that God has given to us. He desires for us to choose Him and to seek after His influence and instruction in all matters, but God wants for each of us to do these things freely and without compulsion. He risks granting us the freedom to make these decisions on our own, but He does not leave us without advice or counsel to assist us in determining what is right, just, good, and holy in our world. The Lord does allow us to decide for ourselves to select or to reject those Godly influences. This is a type of consideration that we are faced with at a high level as we consider whether to accept Christ as Savior and Lord of our lives, and we continue to encounter these decision points throughout every day that we are alive when we need to choose to live in a manner that is fully submitted to Christ and to God’s Word or to travel along a different path in some aspects of life. Every one of these decisions has an influence upon the form, the substance, and the shape of the life that I will live from this day forward.

Yet, even wrong turns and surrender to the pressures that the world places upon a person is not without its value and its worth in the process of living a life that is Godly, righteous, and valuable within God’s kingdom on earth. The Lord is redemptive in His character and nature. He seeks to retrieve our lost moments, hours, days, and years by granting to each of us a grace that is infinite in its mercy and unceasing in its capacity to love us. God follows us wherever we may go, He calls us into the presence of His word of life, and He speaks renewal and new life into any and all of our dark and hurting places. As we submit to Christ and seek out His will, He applies the sort of pressure that we require to remake each of us into people who take on a shape and a form that is beautiful in God’s eyes and that lives in a manner that brings the grace, hope, and love of Christ into the lives of others. With or without Christ we are being formed and shaped every day, but in Christ, the form that we acquire is one that is radiant with His glory and that is made beautiful by the love that He pours into us and that we can then grant to the world where we live.   

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3: 23

Performance standards are a big deal in the work world. If proof of this fact is needed, just ask any employee about the stress that is usually associated with the time of year that is known as Annual Performance Review Time. It is important from God’s perspective to strive to meet and to even exceed the standards that our employers set out for us, too. Yet, I think that the Lord wants for us to get more out of our work than just a sort of grit your teeth and do it well for the sake of the Kingdom of God type of satisfaction. God wants us to find joy and peace in all aspects of our lives.

Perhaps the key to doing this is found in the sorts of standards that we are setting for ourselves. The standards that people set for themselves and in the workplace tend to revolve around the tangible results that will come from the effort. So, profit tends to rise to the top when success is measured, and frequently, there is only limited regard for developing deep relationships in the process of seeking it. Whereas, God’s highest measure of success is defined by relationships. The Lord has committed all of Himself to bringing people into intimate connection with Himself. The human realm usually considers gain, power, and control as primary objectives; whereas, the Lord wants us to make compassion, understating, mercy, spiritual growth, and the pursuit of righteousness our primary goals.

The difference between these two view points in our workinglives is actually rather subtle, and God doesn’t want us to stop seeking to meet the tangible goals and objectives that our employers are seeking. However, it seems that a key to achieving satisfaction in work while achievingsuccess in the marketplace is found in adopting the Lord’s standards as our primary ones. When we place our human relationships above everything else, continually seek God’s wisdom for our interactions and our decisions, strive to be the face of Christ in our world, and perform with God’s righteousness as the focal point for our actions, we will better know the peace and the joy of the Lord during the work day. Also, our employers will benefit from the full presence of the most completely equipped worker possible.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10: 31

This is one of the most inclusive statements in all of Scripture. Yet, it has a very narrow focus at its conclusion. Paul had lived out of a very ridged and fully articulated form of rules and regulations regarding what he could eat, how it was to be handled and prepared, and who he could take meals with. Now, in Christ, he had a form of freedom that he would have never experienced before. Still, he was a man who understood the importance of self-control, and he also understood that this self-discipline was a product of Paul’s submission to Christ and to following God’s will in everything. Thus, he comes to the broad and highly inclusive aspect of the statement in his letter to the church in Corinth when he tells them to “do all” to the glory of God.

This all is very big word, for it does not leave much out of its boundaries. There is no space for personal beliefs or for secret passions. This idea of living out each and every moment of life for the glory of God is not one that Paul invented, either. It is as old as is the existence of humanity, for fully engaged, all-in worship of the Lord a part of the way that we were created to exist. Thus, when we hold back parts of our lives or determine to live out aspects of it outside of God’s will and righteousness, we are actually setting a course for ourselves that is at odds with our deepest nature. People are most at peace in our souls when we are living in obedience to God’s Word and in harmony with His will. So, in order to do this with the totality of our beings, there is no area of life that we do not surrender to Christ and live out in the full instruction of the Word and the on-going council of the Spirit.

At the end of his thoughts, Paul takes us to the truly narrow and singular focus of what it means to “do all” in this context. God’s glory is made visible by the manner that His people live out our lives. When we pour out the presence of Christ into the world around us, we are reflecting that glory. This is seen in the form of sacrificial love that reaches out to others and seeks to uplift and care for them even when that means giving up something of importance to ourselves. It is also demonstrated when we are more concerned with justice and with mercy than we are with safety or gain. Christ’s presence is brought into the public square when we hold up righteousness as the standard for behavior and as the foundation for all forms of policy and practice in our society. There are many other situations and instances wherein we can choose to bring glory to God or to deny Him through our thoughts, words, and actions. Paul tells us to choose to do it all for God’s glory.     

And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all of those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything that she had, all she had to live on.”

Mark 12: 43, 44

Jesus is making a statement that is in the form of a parable; so, we need to consider the deeper or the hidden meanings in His words. For Jesus used parables as a means of both sifting out people who did not truly know God from those who were sincere in their desire to gain eternal truth and understanding, and He also utilized this obscured form of teaching so that His followers would be forced to dig deeper into God’s word and allow that those complex and mature ideas would be revealed to them in that process of seeking wisdom and truth. On the surface of it this is a story about the way that we hold our financial wealth and the relatively greater willingness to trust God with it that was held by the poor woman as opposed to those who we assume to be the far wealthier men that made up the group of Jewish religious leaders that were questioning Jesus.

Yet, I wonder if Jesus isn’t talking about something even more difficult to surrender than our money? We know that it was necessary in the world where Jesus lived to have some sort of income in order to live, and the same is even more true today, but there are other things that we hold, possess, and strive for that make up the full package of what we might consider to be necessities of life. These include our educations, homes, jobs, status in society, national identity, religious affiliations, and many other points of connection to our world that all work together to define who we are and to establish what we are worth in our culture. Perhaps there are aspects of all of this that we are holding onto tightly and so making only those show offerings of our deeper selves to the Lord while grasping with all of our might to what we consider to be essential for life?

Christ desires for us to trust Him to the point of fully emptying our pockets, wallets, purses, and vaults of everything that we might determine to be important or essential for us to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. He wants us to be widow-like in turning over tomorrow to God so that what we have and thus where we go are guided fully by His will and are provided by His hands of loving grace, mercy, and wisdom. We may think that we have a good plan for how we will live out our time on earth and even for the manner in which that plan will fulfill a calling that has come from the Lord. However, we just might be wrong, or God may have something far more significant to the purposes of His kingdom in mind for us. If we hold on rigidly out of our own strength and understanding to our plans and goals, we just might not be open to God’s greater plan. You see, the widow in this story was infinitely rich in spirit and in her relationship with the Lord, and we can be like her in these ways as well when we turn over every aspect of our lives to Him and trust in God’s goodness and grace to provide all that we will need to live today in the center of His will.

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy.

Psalm 64: 1

There are times when silence is a very good thing; yet, there are other times when the most productive thing that I can do is speak up and speak out. God wants to participate fully in the things that are going on in my life, and He wants to help me with the process of thinking about and through them, too. Although I am convinced that the Lord knows exactly what I am thinking and the complete details of my state of being, He still wants me to state them so that I can more clearly and accurately identify real concerns and sort out the smoke screens of deception that Satan throws my way.

So, even at the risk of sounding like I am complaining, whining, or self-centered, I should express the concerns and the feelings that are filling my heart and my mind. The Lord does not fail to respond to my expressions of truly felt emotion, and He always brings a reassuring sense of calm to my world. In fact, He seems to speak out in His most powerful voice when I am being overwhelmed by the swirling winds of an out of control day. It seems that God specializes in chaos. It is not that He causes it; rather, the Lord brings the calm and the clear thinking that clear the air so I can breath easily again

The Lord does not promise to remove all of the challenges and concerns from my life, and He certainly does not eliminate the aggressive opposition that His people will face from the forces of evil in this world. Instead, God takes away the doubts, fears, and dread that can work in my heart to disable me. The Lord provides me with the assurance of His protection, wisdom, and insight, and He surrounds me with His loving care. Thus, I can face the challenges of my day with the certainty of Christ’s victory as a solid foundation for my feet.

“So shall My word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to Me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55: 11

God is known for His resolve. When He determines to do something, He just doesn’t stop going after it until it is done. Granted, the timing of reaching that finish line is also His to control, and that part of the entire process is often the one that seems the most mysterious and perplexing to me. For there are a lot of things that I am certain are the expressed desire of God’s heart that He just seems to take way too long to bring to completion, and either my attention span or my willingness to stick it out, or both, are tested beyond what I believe to be their limits of endurance.

However, that is really my problem; as these situations provide me with a chance to engage in a little spiritual and emotional workout session. The simple but sometimes hard to embrace truth is that I can trust that God really means what He says. So, if I am hearing His word and perceiving His desire, God will make those things happen, and regardless of my skill, intelligence, or patience with the process, He will cause a great result to come out of it all. What I am seeing here as the greater truth is that God’s true desire is not about the situation, itself. He did not send His word of truth specifically to heal the illness, to provide the job, or to free the oppressed. Rather, God gives us His Word to bring us to Him. The Lord’s desire is fulfilled when people learn to love and to trust Him with all of our hearts and with all of our minds and souls.

As we grow in our ability to trust God and to wait on His timing, His Word starts to open up to our hearts in ways that it had not before, and the deeper truths that the Lord wants us to hear and to understand start to reveal themselves to us. There is a process here that is of God and that is His to accomplish. For I have found that as I start to embrace the fact that God will respond to everything in my life that is reflective of His heart’s desire and wait in trusting obedience on Him while continuing to act on what He has revealed to me, God’s Word speaks ever more clearly and with a voice that is impossible to ignore. I can rest in and trust on the reality that the Lord will succeed in all things and over all opposition. 

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