I’m probably the biggest proponent for balance that you’ll ever meet. Probably not, really… but I do think about it a lot, and that counts for something, right?
It seems to me, that there are almost always two contrasting extremes that represent the two ends of a spectrum. And in order to best comprehend the middle ground, one must first understand and in some regards, practice the two extremes. It’s not difficult to identify a few of those spectrum bookends in this culture… Republican / Democrat, Introvert / Extrovert, Love / Hate, Coffee drinkers / Everyone else (Just kidding)… y’get the idea, and can probably think of way more than I can right now.
(Small disclaimer. Understanding, truth, and health are the purposes of this ideology, not contradicting, non-sensical, tolerance to everything, or something like that. I believe what the Bible says to be true, and it’s what I gauge all of my understanding on, not the contrasting natures of the concepts on a spectrum. Just thought it would be appropriate to mention this, before you think I’m some kinda hippy-dippy “everything is relative” sort of Christ follower. Get it straight, yo.)
Anyways, back to balance n’stuff. Here’s an example that I’ve thought a lot about… Say, rule-following, upright, holiness is on one end of the spectrum, and all-encompassing, unrelenting grace is on the other. Clearly, we wanna have both of those qualities to be true about us as people who follow Christ. So how the heck do we find the middle and live there?
I’ll tell you how most of us go about this — we attempt to acquire 50% of each, and logically we’ll find ourselves in the middle. That’s pretty cool I guess… but you’ve only got 50% of each of those qualities! That’s not nearly enough, especially for the capacity that the Holy Spirit provides for us. What we must do, is capture 100% of each of these things, and as a result, we’ll happen to find ourselves perfectly balanced. But wait, how can we possibly have more than 100%? That math doesn’t add up…
Let’s be real. We’re never gonna be at 0% righteousness and 100% grace, or vice versa. We’re all found somewhere in between, with a seemingly infinite amount of variations of that combination, influenced by an infinite amount of variables. Maybe you’re at 30/70, or even 45/55 on the Righteousness / Grace spectrum — no matter where you’d place yourself on that scale, be honest with where you’re at, and let yourself be okay with that. But here’s where we most often fail… we allow that understanding of a lack of grace or a lack of righteousness define us, and we get stuck there. Doesn’t sound very balanced to me.
We find in James 1:4, that we are to “…let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” What this tells me is that we are in fact, capable of not lacking anything. That dual - 100% reality is something that we can actually see happen! And how does it say that this occurs? By letting endurance finish it’s work.
What we lack, the Holy Spirit gives in abundance… but only when we trust Him with enough ferocity and consistency to allow Him.
If we’re got 40% grace, we must allow the Holy Spirit craft in us, that remaining 60% that we’re missing. Think about this. Jesus said that if we’ve got even faith as small as a mustard seed (that’s like .1% faith), we can move mountains. He says that He is made strong in our weakness, and I think that if we allow ourselves to consistently be made weak before our God, He will be faithful to craft that which we are lacking.
If you can’t tell by now, I have a craving for understanding. What one might call a control issue, I’ll continue to relentlessly optimism-ize, and say that I just really love to be organized and thoughtful. A quote that I heard once went something like this… “The reason you don’t accomplish more in your life isn’t because you don’t have the time, passion, or resources — you’re just unorganized.” That saying really stuck in my head, and even further validated my insatiable hunger for wisdom and growth. All of that to say, here’s another scale / measurement / spectrum metaphor.
Now we’re dealing with things on a scale of 1 -10. Let’s say that 10 represents that place of hyper-productive, maximum efficiency, existence in what you’re made to do in this life. You definitely wanna be at a 10, if you can. But, we all have two different variables in this example — one number is your amount of talent/skill, and the other is your hard work. The sum of these two numbers is your level of how well you’re functioning in balance, efficiency, and calling.
So, let’s give a different scenario to plug into this new scale (can you tell that I really enjoy this stuff?). How about academics, since it’s relevant to pretty much every person in the modern world. So, let’s say your natural talent/skill is at a 7 — you’re that person in class who never studies, skips days, and maybe even naps during lectures, but somehow finishes the class with a solid B. But the thing about that person is that their hard work number is only a 1. While that still puts them at an 8 of efficiency in academics, which is really quite good compared to someone who operates at a 4, they’re not quite at their max, and that’s really a shame.
But let’s take a different example. What about someone who’s only got a 2 in natural scholastic giftedness. Maybe they’ve got some kind of learning disability, or really just have a hard time in school. But, say that their hard work is a 7. Like, they destroy their homework, get tutors, watch YouTube videos to learn more, and study more than five average students combined. They’re a 9 in efficiency. Because of their relentless pursuit of growth, they balance out what they’re not naturally strong in, in order to be functioning at their best.
What I’m saying, is that there is no excuse to be lacking in anything.
Apply that 1 - 10 scale is anything and see that the truth of it still remains — give the whole righteousness / grace example a whirl. And what I didn’t even mention above, is that you can totally change your talent/skill number as well — by learning and practicing and developing yourself as a person, you are capable of becoming whatever you set your mind to. We’re all different, and we’ve all got different amounts of grace and righteousness, natural talent and hard work required to make it happen, and variables that are unique to each of us. I think that understanding who you are, and who you wanna become is the first step to take in truly making lasting change. Perhaps, by placing yourself in these kinds of spectrums before you set out to accomplish your lofty New Years resolutions, you might have a much more balanced perspective on it all.
I pray that in this day, you’ll “set your sights on the realities of heaven” and realize that everything you do in this life matters way more than you think. All of this balance stuff is nice and all, but… it’s all rubbish in comparison to the infinite value of knowing Christ. I hope that you’ll allow this understanding to give you life, and fresh wind in your sails as you take on this new year. You’re capable of far more than you can even imagine, but you’ve gotta be honest about where you’re at before the Holy Spirit can truly transform your mind. I pray that you’d have fresh perspective about life in this day, reenergized, full of vitality, brimming with joy, and abounding in altruism for every person around you. You’re amazing, and I believe in you friend — make your life count! I love you, and don’t forget to keep moving forward.