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1 Corinthians 14:33
GOD WANTS US TO LIVE BALANCED LIVES
The entire world is based on this principle of balance. The world of nature is perfectly balanced. The earth is tilted at a certain angle and rotates at a certain number of miles per hour without any vibration. If the world were a little bit closer to the sun we would burn up and if it were a few miles further away from the sun we would freeze to death. The only global warming to worry about is when fire and brimstone again fall from the sky! Until then, the world is in balance.
In nature, the ecologists study the ecosystems where the food chain and the checks and balances in nature take care of each other. And speaking of checks and balances…there’s financial balance we are in need of.
In your body, doctors say that when you get sick, it is an imbalance in your body. Health comes when your body is restored to balance. The red and white corpuscles are balanced and your hormones are balanced…ok, sometimes they aren’t!
All through your life, in everything we try to juggle, it all focuses toward equilibrium -- the principle of balance. And God wants our personal lives to be balanced.
There is a problem that I see all the time in people I counsel. Probably the most common problem I encounter is this problem of imbalance. Imbalance is a disease that has many different symptoms, but the root is the same. You can be imbalanced in anything. Sleeping? Yes. Eating? Yes. Work? Yes. Play? Yes. Everything. You can be imbalanced in the way you use your time, in hobbies, in anything. The problem is that most of us have a tendency to work on our public lives and let our private lives slide. We work on how we look and how we smile and how we talk, but people don't see your private life, so you sometimes let that slide.
People's lives are like poor photographs: over-exposed and underdeveloped. I think that's true. A lot of lives are overexposed. Everybody sees us and knows us and we have contacts with a lot of people, but our private lives are underdeveloped.
Problems when your personal life is not balanced. Two things happen:
Last summer at the library we took the kids to see a juggler, and he had those poles to balance dishes on. He'd start spinning the dish ntil it was perfectly twirling and balanced. Then he would take another pole and dish and start that. Then another and another. The problem was, that about the time he got down to number nine, number one started to fall off. So he'd run back real quick and get that one going... then he'd run back and start another...
I thought, “A lot of people live their lives that way”. They go from this to that. They work on this area of their life a little bit and then they stop and work on that area of their life a little bit. Then another area. It's frustrating. Just about the time you get one thing in balance, the other one starts to fall off. Can I get a witness?
Frustration is a result of imbalance in your personal life.
You get tired when your life is out of balance. Anybody who's ever bought a car or a new set of tires knows that when you buy new tires, you need to get them balanced. If the tires on your car are not balanced, you're going to have a bumpy ride. There are going to be vibrations. The car doesn't handle the shocks and bumps so well.
That's what happens in your own life. If you get an imbalanced tire, eventually it will rub in the wrong place. You get a a bald spot [some of you guys have unbalanced heads, evidently!] and it will blow out. Likewise in your life, you will get rubbed the wrong way and eventually have a big blow out. Tires blow out but people burn out because of imbalance. Just like a tire that is out of balance wears the wrong way, when your life is imbalanced you wear out much quicker. You get tired.
What does the Bible have to say about being balanced? Does it have anything to say? Yes!
Luke 2:52 we see an example of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the most perfectly balanced person. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." Jesus Christ grew in these areas. He grew in wisdom. That means He grew intellectually. He grew in stature. That means He grew physically. He grew in favor with God. That means He developed spiritually. He grew in favor with man. That means He developed socially. He was a perfect picture of balanced humanity.
There are five areas of your personal life that you need to keep in balance. We're going to talk about you, your own personal life, because if it gets out of balance, it affects everything else.
1. We Need To Have Mental Balance.
Or, "Don't let the world squeeze you in its mold.”
What are you transformed by? Your willpower? No. By working real hard? No. "...by the renewing of your mind." What you think about affects your life and you need mental balance. The Bible says "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." We need balance.
How do you have balance? You balance it by screening the things that come into your mind. You just don't allow anything to come into your thought life indiscriminately. You maintain balance by choosing what you're going to think about. Jesus said, "When you know the truth, the truth will set you free." When you fill your mind with truth, you will find freedom in your lifestyle. Freedom comes by having the right kind of thoughts. True thoughts. Mental balance.
2. We Need To Have Physical Balance.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you glorify God in your body? We need physical balance. When we don't take care of our bodies, it affects everything else. You have to ask yourself: Am I constantly complaining about being tired? "I'm so tired...I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." There's a way out. You maintain physical balance.
Peanuts Cartoon: Lucy is playing baseball. She's running out into the outfield and saying, "I've got it! I've got it!" and the ball flies over her head and plunks down right behind her. She's standing there with her hand open. She throws the ball back to Charlie Brown who's standing on the mound and says, "Sorry about that, manager. My body just doesn't seem to want to do what my brain tells it to." Charlie Brown says, "I can understand that--my body and my brain haven't spoken to each other in years."
Physical balance. Get your life in shape. Get it all together.
Some of you say, "I could never get in shape. I'm too old. You can't teach an old dog new tricks." I say, it's never too late to change!
Article by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the man who invented aerobics: He tells the story of a lady who was 46 years old and came to him. She had back pains that were so terrible that she could not walk further than 75 feet without having to sit down. She was stooped over and couldn't stand up. As a result, it killed all of her social life, all of her outings. She was in constant pain and disability. When she came to Dr. Cooper, he advised that she have back surgery but she said, no, she wanted to try something else. She began to walk on a treadmill. She found that when she put the treadmill at a certain angle she could walk without being in pain for about 25 seconds. So she began to walk on the treadmill several times a day. Soon she found she could lower the treadmill more and more until finally she was walking on a flat surface without any pain for the first time in months. Next she started to do some slow jogging with her walking routine. Eventually she began jogging continuously from 3 miles to 5 miles to 10 miles at each outing. Today, this old woman has run 9 marathons with her best time being 3 hours and 3 minutes, a great time for any woman or man of any age. You can change if you want to.
3. We Need To Have Spiritual Balance
That's part of your personal life. 2 Peter 3:18 says "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." You do two things to grow as a Christian: You grow in grace and you grow in knowledge of Jesus Christ. You have intellectual growth -- you know about the content of the Bible. You also grow in grace -- that's cultivating an intimate relationship, and enjoying God.
A lot of people grow in knowledge. They know about God. They know the books of the Bible. They've memorized verses. They know who Nebuchadnezzar is. They know that an epistle is not the wife of an apostle. Noah’s wife was not Joan of Ark! They know facts, but they don't grow in grace. You've got to have balance in your spiritual life.
4. We Need To Have Emotional Balance
Here we have a picture of a perfect emotionally balanced person. These nine qualities are the qualities of emotional stability. When you're emotionally stable you're not blown away by a crisis.
It's a picture of Jesus. Jesus was love, joy, peace, patience... all those things wrapped up into one.
Are you an emotionally balanced person? Do you have a tendency to worry constantly? Are you a moody person? Do you let your moods go up and down? Are you mastered by your moods rather than managing your moods? Do you get depressed?
I think emotional balance is a combination of confidence and contentment. You're confident and contented and you are emotionally stable in your life.
5. We Need To Have Social Balance.
I'm talking about your relationships. You can have everything right in your life and if your relationships are lousy, well…life stinks. You can be a millionaire, you can be popular, you can be well known and successful, but if you've got people that you're at odds with, life is tough. So you need social balance in your life.
Or, "Live in harmony with one another." I looked up the word "balance" in Webster's dictionary. It says the definition is this, "When all of the parts are in harmony." When all of your relationships are in harmony, there is social balance.
I can't impress on you enough the importance of this balance.
Article from Readers' Digest called "Seven Secrets of Peak Performance": Dr. Charles Garfield is the professor of the University of California Medical School in San Francisco. He's the head of a research institute called Peak Performance Center. They studied 1500 outstanding achievers in all walks of life -- business, athletics, education, every area of life. They were looking for common denominators. What is it that makes the difference between a person who's a super success and another person who tries their best but they just get mediocre results? What's the difference? Are there any characteristics, or common denominators of peak performance people?
Yes, there are seven of them. The number one characteristic of the top achievers in the world is that they lead a well-rounded life. They're balanced. High achievers, we often hear, are extremists. They spend all their time on one thing. Garfield says that's a misconception. High performers, in contrast, are willing to work hard but within strict limits. For them, work is not everything. When Garfield interviewed top executives in ten major industries he found that they knew how to relax, they could leave their work at the office, they prized close friends and family life, and they spent a healthy amount of time with their children and intimates. They were balanced.
Another article from June, 1985 issue of Success magazine:
A doctor, for the past 26 years, studied 5000 professional men and women. Since 1959, he interviewed these 5000 people at least twice a year. He's written two books -- one about men and the other about women. He talks about how women who sacrificed their personal life for a career are imbalanced.
The interviewer asks, "You say that ambitious women have been sold a bill of goods? How?"
His Answer: "They have been told that life is a choice between a career and a satisfying personal life, but my study over 26 years found that to be hogwash. The woman who pours herself into her career and shelves her personal life eventually suffers in her career."
The whole article talks about this principle of balance. At the end the interviewer says, "Basically what you're saying is that anytime, any one part of your life becomes all important, everything, including that part, crumbles."
Answer: "That's an astonishing find in its own way because ever since we were children we've been told to concentrate single-mindedly and to keep ourselves focused."
Balanced living. Balance in your personal life.
How do you get started? Here’s three suggestions out of the Word of God on how to get started:
Wise people think about where they're headed. They give thought to their ways. They consider where they're going. Fools deceive themselves.
How do you get started in balancing your life?
STEP #1: Take Inventory
Look at your life. Say, "Where am I in balance? Where am I out of balance?" Look at yourself. Evaluate it. Do a self-examination. Have a spiritual, mental, emotional, social, physical check-up and evaluate your lifestyle. Proverbs is saying it's wise to analyze. Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
How do you avoid coming to the end of your life saying, "If only..." Do it by stopping in the middle of life and analyzing it, looking at it, evaluating and saying, "Where am I out of balance? What's missing?"
Do you remember the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15? The prodigal son went out and spent all of his money, had a good time with wine, women and song, but he ran out of his inheritance and ends up living in a pigsty eating pig food. In Luke 15:17 there's the turning point in his life. It says this: "He came to himself." He said, "What am I doing here? I'm going to go home."
Have you done that? Have you come to your senses? Have you said, "I'm not going to waste the rest of my life? I'm going to make it count. I'm going to get my life in balance." This is the season to get in balance -- socially, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally -- all of these areas. I challenge you, as homework this week, go home and do a personal check-up from the neck up, and down!
Ask yourself: "Mental balance. Am I mentally sharper than I was five years ago? If not, why not? What am I going to do about it?" I know a lot of Christians who are mentally flabby. They turn on the TV, put their mind in neutral and watch the boob tube. Leaders are readers!
How about physical balance? "Am I always complaining of a lack of energy?" Am I always fatigued? Do I pay no regard to what I eat or how I exercise or how much sleep I get. Do I disregard my physical condition totally. Am I going to do anything about it? Am I a workaholic or do I take time off for physical restoration?
How about spiritual balance? Is my first reaction to a problem to pray, or do I usually use that as a last resort? Do I take time for God? Do I trust Him? Do I really know Him? Do I read the Bible on a regular basis? Am I a “duty” Christian, still just Sunday morning only? Am I choosing to grow spiritually?
Emotional. Do I worry a lot? Am I a moody person? Am I mastered by my moods? Do I loose my temper at the slightest little thing? Am I irritable? Do I get depressed easily?
Social balance. Who can I count on as a genuine friend? Who can count on me as a genuine friend? Proverbs says to have friends you must show yourself friendly!
I encourage you to ask your mate to evaluate you, or your s.s. teacher or Pastor. Now we're getting serious! The fact is, all of us have blind spots. I think I'm in balance. You think you're in balance. We all do. But other people say, "That guy is imbalanced!"
The Bible says there is safety and wisdom in a multitude of counselors. So when in doubt, check it out. Ask your spouse how you're doing -- emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally. Get a second opinion.
STEP #2 Write Down A Plan Of Action
We plan every other area of our lives except our personal life. Balance does not come by accident. You've got to work at it. It's not automatic. You plan and set goals and say specifically what you're going to do.
Don't be foolish in the way you use your time. Be careful. Analyze it. "Make the most of every opportunity." How do you make the most of every opportunity? By planning for it. By preparing for it. When opportunity comes, you're ready for it. You develop a plan of action. Don’t just prioritize your schedule—SCHEDULE your priorities! Write down the plan of action.
One of the things that make balance in your life is habits. We are creatures of habit. We need to break bad habits, start new ones, because that's part of getting in balance -- getting rid of the bad habits and developing new ones.
But you can't do it on your own. Will power is not enough. You need more.
STEP #3 Establish Christ At The Center Of Your Life
Ill.—Wheel, spokes, and hub.
Don’t compartmentalize your spiritual life. Don’t take this lesson on balance and try to use it to rationalize God being in balance, or just having a measure of Him.
Just like a wheel has to have a hub, your life has to have something to center on. You will always be out of balance until you get something -- one thing -- that your life centers on. You can center it on making money, but that will get you out of balance. You can center it on retiring and recreation, but that will get you out of balance.
In a wheel, all the power comes through at the point of the hub and then it's distributed out to the differing spokes that turn the wheel. Likewise, in your life, when you put Christ in the center of your life, the power comes through that and goes out to all of these other areas and gives you balance. That's why the Bible says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." and all of these things will be brought into focus, into balance.
Sometimes I hear someone say, "I have a problem. My life is falling apart." How do you put a life that is falling apart back together? What holds it together? I asked the person, "Would you like to know the glue that would put your life together?"
You don't see God. That's why He sent Jesus so you could see Him.
If your life is falling apart, it's because Jesus Christ is not at the center to hold all things together. Put Him at the center and watch Him pull it back together. Think about an atom with a nucleus of protons and neutrons swirling around and on the outside electrons swirling around it. What holds the atom together? Jesus Christ. He holds all things together in the world and in your life. Bring Him any broken pieces in your life and see how He can miraculously put it all together!
The bottom line in finding balance--Jesus Christ wants to be the center of your life. You can start over, you can have a new beginning, you can have a clean slate and get your personal life in balance.
[outline and some source materials courtesy Rick Warren]
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