Keep Your Balance

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Life is fundamentally measured by weeks, not months, or even years.

Here is a principle that everyone endorses and few follow: Keep your balance. Balance is fundamental to athletics and just as fundamental to ordinary daily life. Most people, however, are surprised to discover that early in the Bible the balance issue was considered deeply and with considerable wisdom.

The fourth commandment begins our understanding of the biblical portrayal of balance:

Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. (Exod. 20:8-10, Deut. 5:12-14)

Notice that this commandment interprets day-to-day life and the world we occupy. A unit of time, namely seven days, is a primary framework for our work, our relationships, our worship, our rest. God’s intended design mixes work, rest, solitude, companionship, physical exercise, quiet reflection, fun, serious thought—and all in seven days. This is the model for life balance, just as the model for human burnout is that condition when every day looks alike and lacks rhythm and drifts into randomness. The biblical portrayal of balance is framed in seven days and becomes a workable way to make each day unique as a part of the seven.

Human beings are not mechanical, timeless creatures to endlessly grind on at work. We need time to collect our thoughts and dreams. We need time to “cease” and to wonder about life’s deep meanings. We need to remember our history and to worship the Lord of life. We need work, too, with its creative productivity and energy. Though the fourth commandment is an imperative, it is one that leads me toward the freedom of balance. Our Lord Jesus Christ called the command a command for us, not against us (Mark 2:27–3:5).

In the first chapter of the Bible (Gen. 1:26), man and woman receive dominion over the earth. This dominion text is the beginning of the Bible’s freedom theology. The fourth commandment of the Law affirms the dominion thread. It calls us to choose the good way of balance within our life’s seven-day cycle. We choose the work, we choose the rest—and by this mandate we receive dominion. We are to find our work, and we are to find our rest. That is to say, we are to think through the meaning of our lives within the seven days that each of us has in each particular week. Life is fundamentally measured in weeks, not months, or even years. Therefore don’t say, “Next October, I’m going to have a great time with my kids. We will have quality time then.” The command is:

“Find the time this week; the important themes and opportunities of your life need to be in this week’s rhythm.”
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