Balanced Christian Life
Balance Your Love Relationships
A balanced life is as beautiful as an Olympic skater’s jumps and spins. What are some critical elements of a balanced Christian life? The first is balanced love for God, other believers, and unbelievers.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NLT).
Love sacrifices time, energy, talents, or finances to benefit others. Christians are to love God, other believers, and unbelievers.
Many long-time believers have few or no unbelieving friends. That hinders sharing your faith. It hurts evangelistic effectiveness.
That is because God usually uses relationships to lead people to faith in His Son. How will you improve your love balance among God, other believers, and unbelievers?
Learn how to share Jesus Christ with others through the ABC of Evangelism.
Balance Your Passions
You likely struggle with another kind of love imbalance. It’s putting someone or something other than God at the center of your life as your defining passion. What you consistently think about when free to think about anything, what you’re known for, and how you spend your money reveal your defining passion.
I’ve thought often about fishing. I’m known for it, and I’ve spent considerable money on it. I’ve learned far too slowly that fishing can make a meal but not a life.
Idolatry is making some unsatisfying God-substitute the defining passion of your life. God will give you the strength to make Him your defining passion (1 Corinthians 10:13-14).
What threatens God’s supremacy in your life? How can you keep it in its proper place?
At the end of each day, review the following:
• How did I show my love for God today?
• How did I help someone in need today?
• How did I help another believer today?
Assessing your love balance daily encourages a better balance tomorrow and keeps you focused on life’s main thing -- loving God and others.
Balance Your Nutrition
Food shapes your life. A proper diet maximizes mental, spiritual, and physical health. A balanced diet includes a variety of protein foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products daily.
The Bible provides the nutrients you need to grow toward Christian maturity. “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment” (1 Peter 2:2 NLT).
Reading and applying biblical teachings to your life reshapes how you think, which affects every area of your life. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT).
Applying God’s word to your life helps identify and remove the “stinking thinking” our culture has taught you. It enables you to build your life on an unshakeable foundation. "Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” (Matthew 7:24 NLT).
Apply God’s word to your life to replace lies with joy-producing truth. “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” (Jeremiah 15:16 NLT).
Read at least 1 chapter each day in the Bible, starting with Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. After finishing the New Testament, read the Old Testament, and then reread the New Testament, etc. At a pace of one chapter/day, it takes about three years to read the entire Bible.
A Study Bible’s notes help you glean the most from your reading. Wikipedia lists more than 20 different English Study Bibles. Consider the Life Application Study Bible. Use a Bible translation you can understand.
The study Bible notes help you understand. They apply the chapter to your life. The scholars who wrote its notes are your mentors. I have used it for my devotions for thirty-five years.
Without regular time to read the Bible, you won’t read it daily. When will you do your daily Bible reading? You won't read the Bible daily without a regular place to read it. Where will you do your daily Bible reading?
Record daily on lined paper or a computer/tablet what you read, the date, and what God says to you in one to three sentences. For example, 1/13/23 – James 4 – I have a problem with pride.
Share your observations and life applications. In a small group or with your accountability partner. That helps to keep you accountable.
ABC of Christian Growth explains the eight fundamentals of following Jesus Christ. Consider working through the books at Discipleship Books Free Download to give you a firmer grasp of the basics of the faith.
Balance Your Prayer
Follow the acrostic “PRAYER” in your private prayers. P stands for praise; R, for rely; A, for admit; Y, for yield; E, for express thanks; R, for request. Praying is more than just asking God for things.
Praise is exalting God for who He is. Read the words of psalms, hymns, or praise songs to express praise to God. Praise is worship.
“Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NLT).
Rely – For what does God want you to trust Him today? “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NLT).
Admit – Confess your sins and claim God’s forgiveness. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT).
Yield – Surrender daily the driver’s seat of your life to the Holy Spirit. “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18 NLT).
Express thanks – Specifically, for what are you thankful? “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT).
Request – Ask God for things you or others need. “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
Pray publicly. A public prayer is shared with at least one other person present. Don’t wait to pray publicly until you can do it fearlessly.
Start praying while afraid, or you won’t ever start. Start with one-sentence prayers. Gradually lengthen your prayer. Praying privately prepares you to pray publicly.
Public praying is talking to God, not others, to glorify Him, not yourself. Pray with others in your small group meeting. Or with your accountability partner.
Balance Reading, Meditating, and Memorizing
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2 NLT).
Meditating on God’s word is thinking hard about what God is saying and how it applies to your life. I tend to read the Bible far more than I meditate on its contents. Writing blogs has helped me improve my meditation skills. I challenge you to write something down, even briefly, during your Bible reading.
Memorizing God’s word makes it always immediately accessible. “How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.
I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9, 11 NLT).
Memorize verses in whatever translation you like. Please, don’t say, “I can’t memorize.” If you know your Social Security number, you can memorize God's word.
It won’t be easy, but you can do it. The verses you memorize will nourish your spiritual life. Read the verse ten times, speak it ten times, and write it two times.
Daily review your memorized verses, or your memory will fail! Ongoing review stops that!
I review about seven verses per day. Reviewing the verses I have memorized takes three weeks at that pace. You will need a regular time and place to study, or you won’t do it consistently. I review verses while eating breakfast.
Balance Your Exercise
Regularly exercising helps prevent diseases. It improves your mood. It decreases stress.
Aim for at least three hours of physical exercise per week. Five is better. Balance strength training and cardio exercises. Additionally, a physically fit Christian is more spiritually fruitful over a lifetime than an unfit Christian.
Maintain the ministry machine! Mutual encouragement among small group members helps. Or from accountability partners.
My back was a wreck in early 2016, with frequent spasms and pain. I exercised daily for seven years to stretch and strengthen it. It felt better in 2023 than in 2016, even though I was seven years older!
Balance Your Health
Take a Spiritual Health Assessment so that you can assess how well you balance all the elements of spiritual health.
Balance Your Ministry
The most helpful exercise is serving others. God wired and gifted you to meet others’ needs and the church’s needs. Serve others in your local church. Some service is just pitching in when your help is needed, like setting up chairs for a ministry program.
However, you serve most effectively out of your ministry sweet spot. My sweet spot is writing materials that help others grow spiritually. You love others best, and everyone wins when you serve out of your ministry sweet spot.
Your sweet spot is something you are good at and enjoy. Discover it by trial and error and make that your primary ministry. Follow your interests. Experiment with a variety of ministries.
Be patient. It could take several years to identify it. Ministering in your sweet spot gives you joy, energizes you, and helps those you minister to more than anything else you could do for them.
Balance Your Witness
Balance sharing your story and God’s story when the time is right for each. Write a 3-minute testimony: Describe in about 200 words your life before knowing Jesus. Include your goals and values.
Describe how you came to know Jesus in about 200 words.
Describe changes Jesus has made in your life in about 200 words, including how your goals and values have changed. Here is my testimony.
I was born a twin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I emerged second and shocked my mother and father, who expected only one child! Because I was bigger and stronger than my twin, I spent my first 15 years bullying him.
I didn’t value spiritual things much during my first 19 years, even though I spent at least 1,000 hours riding church pews. Although my body was present, my mind was elsewhere—usually thinking about sports.
Outside the church, I rarely thought about God or prayed voluntarily, and I never read the Bible alone. My purpose was to win the love and acceptance of others by excelling in sports and my studies.
I graduated fifth in my high school class, broke my high school’s javelin record, and was the conference javelin champion in my junior year. Achieving these goals and many others brought only brief happiness. The thought of dying scared me, and guilt hung over me. I believed in heaven but was unsure I’d go there when I died.
In my church, I often heard that Jesus had died on the cross to pay the penalty for my moral and spiritual failures. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t understand how Jesus’ death solved the problem. I pictured His death as a down payment on my passage to heaven. I thought I had to make regular payments for the good things I did.
During the fall of my junior year in college, by hearing 1 John 5:11- 12 (NLT) quoted, I understood I didn’t have to make any payments. Jesus had paid the penalty for my spiritual imperfections in full.
Those verses say: “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” That evening in my dorm room, I trusted in Jesus’ sacrifice alone to give me the right standing with God and invited Him into my life.
That evening was a turning point. Because God loved and accepted me as I was, I wanted to do what pleased Him. Little by little, love and gratitude replaced fear as a dominant motivator in my spiritual life.
My fear of death significantly diminished. God lifted the weight of guilt for my moral failures from my shoulders when I trusted Jesus’ death as payment in full. I knew I’d go to heaven when I died because Jesus had paid the admission fee. I knew I could trust Him to keep His promise to take me there.
When Jesus came into my life, He wouldn’t allow me to relate to God or others in the same old ways. I remember feeling a twinge of conscience after talking negatively about people who weren’t present—something I’d done repeatedly for years. He convinced me that my language needed some attention. My words were a symptom of the anger and desire for control that swirled within me.
Little by little, God’s love for and acceptance of me freed me to love and accept others. I gradually developed a strong desire to serve others that I didn’t have before the fall of 1968. My goal was to know Jesus better and help others understand Him. Working toward that goal has brought a measure of fulfillment I’d never known when doing my own thing.
God dramatically changed the direction of my life. I majored in biology in college and earned a master’s degree in fishery biology. I landed my “perfect” job as an aquatic biologist with the Pennsylvania Fish Commission, which I thought would bring me happiness. I enjoyed “playing in the water,” but it lacked fulfillment or significance.
I sensed persistent pressure toward full-time Christian service. I resisted it for several years but finally gave in. My life hasn’t always been easy, but it’s far more fulfilling than when I was in the driver’s seat.
Learn the ABC of Evangelism presentation. That will equip you to verbalize your faith.
Balance Your Energy Output
Set aside one day/week to recharge. Share your plan with your accountability partner or small group.
Some say, “I would rather burn out than rust out.” Out is out. It would be best to recharge to accomplish the most over life’s long haul.
I recharge through reading, fishing, coaching, and gardening. Make recharging God-centered. Many professing Christians on vacation take a vacation from God. Your recharge day each week is a mini vacation.
Balance Your Stewardship
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belongs to him.” (Psalm 24:1 NLT). You must explain how you manage what God entrusts to you.
That includes your time; natural gifts, such as singing in tune; learned abilities, like playing the keyboard; spiritual gifts, such as the gift of teaching; words; the gospel; the environment; financial means, and energy. “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT).
The New Testament standard is thoughtful, generous, and cheerful giving (2 Corinthians 9). Faithful stewardship starts by giving yourself to God (2 Corinthians 8:5).
Jesus died for you so that you would live for Him. “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT).
You are not your own. You were purchased by Christ’s sacrifice (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Assess how you use your time, natural gifts, learned abilities, spiritual gifts, words, the gospel, the environment, financial means, and energy for God. Develop and implement a plan to use them all to build God’s Kingdom.
Develop a Church Assimilation Strategy to connect visitors and members to the church.
Balance Your Resources to Help the Poor
Be sensitive to God’s leading to meet the needs of your local congregation (James 2:15-16). Seek wisdom to discern if you are helping the hurting or enabling dysfunctional life patterns.
Volunteer in local ministries that help the poor. Give financially to help them. Explore organizations deemed trustworthy by CharityNavigator.org. They should have a spiritual ministry.
Consider serving or giving as a small group. Or with your accountability partner.
Photo: Marian Nedelcu/Flickr