Summary: How do we order our lives to do the things that are really important, without always feeling rushed and overwhelmed?
How many of you here this morning consider yourselves to be unbalanced? No, I don’t mean mentally unbalanced. I’m talking about feeling that your life is out of balance, that you’re spending too much time, and money, and energy on some things, and not enough on other things. I’m talking about feeling like you spend your days lurching uncontrollably from one critical need to the next, always reacting to what seems most urgent, instead of what’s most important. I’m talking about trying to allocate your very limited resources of time, and money, and energy amongst a seemingly endless succession of demands, and always coming up short – always feeling exhausted, always feeling broke, always feeling guilty that you aren’t doing more. Ever feel like that?
It’s rare these days to find someone whose feels that their life is in perfect balance, with work, and family, and religion, and daily chores, and personal needs all being equally and adequately cared for. We all want that kind of life – a life that doesn’t have you constantly trying to cram one more activity into an already overloaded day; a life that doesn’t require explaining to the children, again, why you can’t play with them right now; a life with time for family, and time for friends, and time for some kind of spiritual life. But to most people, that kind of life almost seems like something out of a 1950’s TV show [Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver]. Because the life we’re familiar with is one in which every aspect of our existence demands more of us than we have to give. I sometimes feel as if I could easily be a full-time husband and father, or a full-time pastor and teacher, or a full-time software engineer. Any of those could occupy all my waking hours. In addition, I could probably have another full-time occupation just doing home maintenance, and making home improvements [raking the lawn alone would take up most of October]. Add in hobbies, recreation and entertainment, and I would really need about five of me to get everything done. The only problem is that there’s only one of me to go around.
What we all want, simply put, is a life in balance. What we want is to be able to do the things that are really important, without always feeling rushed and overwhelmed. What we want is for every area of our lives to receive its proper amount of time and attention, no more and no less. Is that kind of life possible?
The goal is serving God, not finding balance
First, the goal for a Christian isn’t really “balance”. Balance implies that we examine all of the pieces of our lives – work, family, leisure, etc. – and we allocate our resources of time and money as each one deserves. The problem with this approach is that God gets put in mix as just one priority among many. “There’s my career, and there’s my marriage, and there’s my relationship with my kids, and there’s recreation, and there’s God.” But God will not tolerate being just one of many items on a list. God is not just one of our priorities; He must be our first and only priority.
So the question isn’t how we balance “work” and “family” and “God”. The question for a Christian is how we follow Jesus Christ faithfully in every area of life. He demands absolute obedience, He deserves our total allegiance. At the very beginning, we must understand that the goal is not to organize our lives so as to achieve some abstract state of “balance”. The goal is to bring every area of life into harmony with God’s will. The goal is to follow and obey Him with every area of our lives. If we do that, then the “balance” will take care of itself, because God will never ask us to do more than we are able.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” – Philippians 3:8 (NIV)
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:45-46 (NIV)
“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.” – Luke 5:27-28 (NIV)
“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:33 (NIV)
What these verses tell us is that knowing and serving Jesus Christ is the only thing that matters, the only thing that has real value. It’s worth any price, any sacrifice, any labor. To paraphrase Vince Lombardi, following Christ isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing. So our relationship with Christ isn’t just one among many priorities to be balanced. It’s the center around which everything else revolves.