One of the hardest things to do in the Christian life is to be balanced. It is easy to go off to one false extreme, see our fault, then to go to another false extreme. It’s easy (in one sense) to tell ourselves, “I am going to be more faithful in Bible reading,” and begin to read multiple chapters each day, but to then see that, while you have indeed been more faithful, your Bible reading has become mechanical and chore like. How difficult it can be at times to be balanced. Not only to be faithful to read our Bibles, but to also be reading in a spirit of worship and devotion. Can the Bible help us be more balanced in our Christian lives?
Thankfully yes. The Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5:3-12 (some would say 5:3-10), teach us many things. They give us a glimpse of the character of Jesus Christ, show us what true Christianity is, and what a Christian looks like, to name a few. But they also can serve as a type of Christian ‘checks and balances,’ while also giving us an example of how the entire Bible can help.
Take for instance verse 6 that tells us a Christian is one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness. As Christians we should strongly desire to grow in righteousness, to become more like Jesus Christ. We should hate the sin that we see in our lives and mourn over it (verse 4). We should want to become more and more righteous in every single area of our personal life. And not only our personal life, but we should desire righteousness in our world. The Christian is not satisfied with desiring personal righteousness only, but wants the world to be conformed as well to the image of Jesus Christ. The Christian should hate the sin that he sees in this world and long for God’s righteousness to be in all places and all peoples.
However, if in our desire for righteousness, we have become rude, unconcerned about the hurts of others, and unloving, we have erred somewhere. Not only do the Beatitudes tell us to desire righteousness (verse 6), but they also tell us to be merciful (verse 7). A Christian that is greatly desiring righteousness to the exclusion of mercy has become unbalanced, needs corrected, and needs repentance. We are to want righteousness and to show mercy.
Likewise, as stated above, Christians are to show mercy. We are to love those in need, have compassion on them, and give. Christians should be the most merciful people in the world. If God has had mercy on us after we have sinned against Him like we have, how can we not show mercy to others?
But again, even here there is a danger of becoming unbalanced. If in our desire to love and show mercy to others we disobey God, we have erred in our Christian life and sinned against Him. If in the name of Christian love and mercy (this is an extreme example) we say that it is okay for the unmarried to sleep together and that homosexuality is fine to be practiced because it would be unloving and unmerciful to say otherwise, then we are in need of rebuke and repentance. Are we to show mercy? Yes. But not to the exclusion of desiring righteousness. In fact, when we disobey God in the name of “mercy,” it is no longer mercy that we show, but hate. We are to show mercy and desire righteousness.
The Beatitudes can serve as a great way to check and balance our Christian lives, but so does the entire Bible. As you read the Bible and compare Scripture to Scripture, by God’s grace you will be able to be more and more balanced in your walk with the Lord.