When I was in college I had one professor that stated this: life comes down to Basics and Balance. He would say to know the basics of the faith and try to have a balanced life.
What are the basics of life and how do we bring those things into balance as we live our everyday lives? What are those essential truths and essential things that we have to have if we are going to live the life that God intends for us to live?
I have found 7 basic truths that have been really important in bringing balance to my life. However, just knowing these basics of my faith was not enough. It was only when I started to act upon them and started to practice them did my life have more balance and more peace.
FAITH IN GOD
Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him”
So many people try to live without God and try to make sense of what life is all about. They try to figure out what their purpose is and they try to find joy and contentment. Time and time again they end up empty and hurting and they live life under the lie that it’s all okay. Even those that have come to know Christ often live a life of hollow faith and they also find life itself is often times empty. The truth is for both types of people they must grow in their faith in God. For those that do not know him, they must come to an understanding of their lostness and hopelessness. They must come to know that life without God is a life not worth living, a life that has missed its very reason for existence. For those who know God as Savior but aren't growing in their faith, they must come to realize that without faith we can’t please God. We must understand that to have faith in God is to trust him above all. The point is that trust itself has to do with the integrity, reputation, character, and the ability of someone. When we can’t trust God with our lives, it doesn’t honor who God is, it doesn’t honor God’s Word, and it doesn’t honor his integrity. So the balance to all of this is not just to know this truth, but to act upon it. You need to increase your faith, believe and trust God more and realize that it’s not okay to lack faith. You must ask God to grow your faith in all areas of your life.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When it comes to prayer a strange thing happens in the lives of Christians I know; we are just not very good at it. When you really think about it, prayer should not be that difficult of a thing to constantly do. God tells us in his word to pray without ceasing. Wow, how does anyone pray without ceasing? To "pray without ceasing" means on going prayer; it does not mean on going talking. We should be continually in an attitude of prayer. It means to have a God-consciousness where everything we see and every experience we have becomes an opportunity to pray. We have to live in an understanding that God is there. We have to have a deep relationship with God that allows God to speak to us and we speak to Him. It should be natural and growing like the relationships we have with our closest friends. Again, we must start to act upon the opportunities that God gives us to talk with him, to pray to him, to be aware of him. That’s the balance that makes prayer not just something we know to do, but something that becomes a constant and ever growing part of our lives. When we make our lives more about talking with God, being aware of him, making it more about a daily relationship, and not just a one-time experience, prayer will become more of a part of our lives.
STUDY OF THE WORD
2 Timothy 2:15 states, “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."
Of all of the basic truths, I have found the Word of God is the one that has personally helped me the most. I have found when I am spending time in God’s word, the other truths have been much easier for me. My whole attitude changes when I study the Word of God. My faith is stronger, my prayer life is richer, my work has more purpose, my service is done for the right reason, and I'm willing and able to really rest. I am not saying that I always get it right. What I am saying is that when I’m in the Word of God my life just works better. I believe this is because truth is a foundation that is unshakeable, and God’s Word is truth. No matter what else is going on, how difficult my circumstances are, or how hopeless things feel, the Word of God always speaks truth. It always points me in the right direction, and shows me something I need to see. Even when everything else seems to be at a breaking point, it has been God’s Word that has stood and guided me home.
Hebrews 10:24-25 states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near”
Growing up I often heard the word fellowship but was never really sure what it meant. I knew it had something to do with being with others, but beyond that I did not understand. The Greek word “fellowship” translates in the New Testament to essentially mean a partnership to the benefit of all those involved. Christian fellowship is the relationship between Christians. It mutually benefits both or all parties involved, and can only happen if you have a relationship with Jesus, which is the reason for our unity.
Christians can’t have the identical relationship with non-Christians. The reason Christian fellowship is important is that it reinforces the truths we know. It helps us to focus on Christ and his desires for us. The Bible tells us that iron sharpens iron. In true Christian fellowship we sharpen one another's faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works as stated in Hebrews 10:24-25. Again, I personally have found that without other believers in my life, without true Christian fellowship, I tend to move far from God. I’m often a much easier target to be defeated and more likely to give in to sin.
Ephesians 4:28 states, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
There are so many reason to work and to do so with an understanding that work is a gift from God. If that is true, then how we do our work reflects how we feel about this gift God has given us.
1 Corinthians 10:31 states, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Also, when we work it allows us to have the ability to share with others who are in need. For me, working hard has added a purpose to my life, an element to my life that has kept me from being lazy, and it has also made my days more productive for the Lord. I believe that work can be a way for me to bring honor to God, and can cause others to see Christ. Out of the 7 basics of faith, work has been the one that people have noticed, and it has given me so many opportunities to share my faith. I could list many benefits of hard work but there are three I will mention. First, hard work keeps you healthy. Secondly, it keeps you young at heart. Lastly, your work can reveal your God to a lost and hopeless world. No wonder God has given this gift to us.
Matthew 25:34-40 states, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
When I think of service, I'm talking about meeting needs of others, both inside and outside of the church. In my life, nothing has touched my heart the way it is touched when I serve others. I can tell you of numerous times when I was the one that was truly blessed by serving others. God has put in our hearts a desire to serve, and when we neglect that desire something dies within us, at least something died within me.
When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, I learned this lesson. My first year at Moody I became overwhelmed by the sheer number of homeless people I encountered, so much so that I said to myself I am a poor college student and I can’t help all these people so I stopped helping any of them. After a few months of this approach I noticed a change going on in my heart. I had become very bitter towards the homeless. I would snap at them if they asked me for help, and one day I just broke down and cried out to God. I asked God why my heart had changed; why did I now hate the people I used to love? Why was I so bitter at them? At that moment I felt God say to me- because you no longer served them, that heart I gave you to love them and serve them, you are killing the heart of flesh and it is becoming a heart of stone. I took a few days and prayed and asked the Lord what I should do? I can’t help them all. God helped me to understand that he never asked me to help them all, but could I help one of them? That was exactly what I did. I met one homeless man whom I took as my own. My heart loved him; I wanted to make a difference in his life and we became friends. But more important, my heart of stone was changing to the heart of flesh, a heart after God and it happened when I served the one in need.
Matthew 11:28-30 states, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
If you’re anything like me, rest is a hard thing for you. I often feel that I have to be doing something, some type of work. As I said earlier, work is a gift from God, but so is rest. We are commanded in scripture to rest.
Exodus 20:9-10 states, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.”
God wants us to rest. Many people have fought about Sabbath and what day is the Sabbath. This article is not dealing with that matter, but the matter of rest. Jesus states that he will give us rest when we are heavy laden, but we must take it. If we are to be productive for God, our body and our souls need rest. No matter if you think you need it or not, God tells you that you do. I have pushed myself very hard many times and I can tell you that when I don't rest I am not the same person. I’m more irritated, less Godly and less effective in all that I do. Rest is a blessing from God, so take it, accept it, and guard it.
As I think about the truths that I just wrote, there is one more thing that I want to say. By no means do I feel that these are the only important truths of the Bible. I’m not saying that you have to come to the same conclusion that I have about how to find a good balance in life. What I am saying is that I have found these 7 basics of Faith change my life. By putting these truths into action, I have fallen more in love with God, grown more obedient to him, and became more productive for his kingdom. My hope is that they may help you live out your faith more, and that your love for Christ will grow more and more as you practice these Godly disciplines.