One common expression many Christians say is that we should all try to be balanced. But what does being balanced really mean? And what does the Bible say about being balanced?
In one sense this is not a hard question. As Christians, we should be “balanced” in such a way where we are level headed, not overly dogmatic, and respectful of other people’s beliefs even if we don’t hold them ourselves.
Christians should also be balanced in that we should not hone in on one doctrine, trying to make the Bible and the Christian faith all about this one point, for as John Stott said, “Every heresy is due to an overemphasis upon some truth, without allowing other truths to qualify and balance it.”
Christians should also be balanced in their everyday lives. We should use food, material possessions, modern medication, sex, work, and other morally neutral things without worshipping them or demonizing. When it comes to our regular lives, the Bible says we should be balanced, placing our hope fully in “God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). We should be balanced by loving God and enjoying earthly blessings while not putting any hope in them.
So in ways like these, the Bible clearly tells Christians we should seek to be balanced, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. But there is another way people often misuse this idea of being balanced. While the Bible explains the importance of not idolizing or demonizing certain things, it also warns us of placing anything even remotely close to our devotion, love, and worship of God.
As we can see through the story of Amnon and Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-22), nothing good comes when we try to be balanced in regards to our idols. God wants us to be totally unbalanced when it comes to loving him. He wants nothing in our lives to even come close to our worship of him.
Trying to Balance Worldliness/Sin Leads to Idolization Which then Leads to Demonization
When you read about how Amnon raped Tamar because he was so obsessed with her, only then to hate her even more than he “loved” her, surely you are disgusted. Most people have never done anything so outlandishly sinful and ugly. Disgusted as we may be, we all show the same pattern when it comes to our idols.
Idols are like a double edged sword; you can cut yourself on either side. Thus the only way to be safe from all idolatry is not to pursue a healthy balance in worldly pleasures but rather a totally unbalanced pursuit of our one and only true God.
When you seek to be free from the damage idols can cause you by simply seeking to remain balanced in your approach to their use, then you will always be in danger of falling off one side of the cliff. Like a child’s game where you have to keep a ball from rolling off any side of the plate you’re holding, you will always be in danger of going too far one way or the other when you try to balance your worldliness.
Idolatry always leads to extremes for a variety of reasons. When you idolize something, it’s pretty easy to see why we elevate it and worship it as God. But the next phase of idolatry is always demonization. This happens because idols never satisfy us the way we think they should have. The higher you place an idol, like a person, the madder you will be at them when they fail you. You can always know how much you idolize someone by how angry you get at them when they do not meet your expectations.
Being Balanced Can Lead to Double-Sided Idolatry
Double-sided idols are expressed in two extremely different ways and yet have the same root sin as the cause of those sinful expressions.
For example, if you are struggling with idolizing your body and you seek to overcome this sin by being balanced, you will always be swaying back and forth between being a gluttonous overweight person to being a fitness fanatic. Your attempt to stay in the middle will force you to always be pushing or pulling to one side or the other. Hence why so many people have a long history of rollercoaster diets, gaining massive amounts of weight only to lose massive amounts of weigh just as many times. The stability never comes because they are still idolizing their body, they are just manifesting this sin in two different extreme ways.
Double-sided idolatry is why American weddings are the most lavish and expensive in the world while our divorce rate is also among the highest. The idol of relationships can show itself by taking out an excessive loan for someone’s “once in a lifetime, special day” or this idol can show itself by the quick divorces between former “perfect” lovers. When people idolize each other relationally, one minute their significant other is surely an angel disguised as a human on earth, and then the next minute this former angel is certainly a demon disguised as a human. Idolatry can never be balanced. It is always an extreme one way or the other.
People who idolize parenthood either obsess over their children as though they are certainly the most important beings on the universe, or they end the idea of having kids at all by having an abortion. Parents who idolize their children either see a child as their only possible saving grace to happiness or the one thing that might destroy their chance at happiness because they’ve put parenting on such an insane pedestal. Because they’ve allowed the idea of having kids to be so big, they feel crushed by it and thus feel the only way out is through abortion. Our society’s idolatry of children shows itself by glamorizing the beauty of children and then diminishing the reality of their right to life. Someone who idolizes children will never be balanced about them.
The Bible Says Being Balanced Is Not the Cure to Sin. Being Radically Unbalanced for Christ Is the Cure
Therefore, the problem to our idolatry and sinfulness will never be cured through any sort of management or external resolution to do better. Being balanced is not the way to solve the heart of humanities’ issues.
The only way to be free from this world’s lures and temptations is to forsake them all together by seeking Christ above everything else in a radical way. Certainly this is why Jesus said our love for others should look like hate compared to our love for him (Luke 14:26). Jesus never called us to be balanced. He called us to be completely unbalanced for him.
We must, like Paul, not rely on any external means (example: circumcision) for righteousness but on the work of Christ alone, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation” (Galatians 6:14, 15).
When we seek Christ above all else, believing that he has transformed us into a new creation with different desires that want only him, only then will be free from the double-sided sword of idolatry.
So what does the Bible say about being balanced? In practical ways we should try to be balanced. But when it comes to our love and devotion, we must not seek to be balanced. We must radically seek Christ.