We are always getting advice on being balanced. Fitness experts encourage us to get the right amount of exercise with a mix of weights and cardio and stretching. Nutrition experts tell us that a good diet includes a balanced amount of protein and carbohydrates, healthy fats, etc. There are a wealth of self-help books and videos focused on creating a work-life balance. Balance is important.
God’s word contains balanced advice on almost all things – looking at both sides of Christian behavior. Take the matter of offense for example. We are told in Psalm 119:165 [KJV] Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. And, we are told in Luke 17:2 [KJV] tells us, It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Don’t be easily offended and do not offend. Balance.
The Scripture gives advice to parents and children about how to treat each other. Children: Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20. Parents: Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:21. It offers directions to both employers and employees on how to interact. Employees: Eph. 6:7-8; Col. 3:22-24. Employers: Eph. 6:9. It provides direction to both husbands and wives. Eph. 5:25-31, 33; Col. 3:18-19.
Overwhelmingly, the Bible is a reliable source for a balanced advice on how to get along in this world.
But there is one area where we have to admit that the scripture and the relationships it outlines is completely unbalanced – in the matter of love.
God’s love for us is overwhelmingly one-sided love. His love for us is so amazing, strong and generous that there is just no way to balance out that scale! God’s love for us is so perfect, beautiful and so far above and beyond what we could return that, though we try for all of this life and for all of eternity in the next, there would be no way to even out the scales.
This is, I think, at least in part, why He tells us so much about giving love to others without expecting anything in return. We’ll still never balance the scales in the measure of God’s love given versus the love we return. However, we can get closer to equaling it out by not only loving God in response to His love for us, but also generously giving love to our fellow man as a response to God’s love for us.
Luke 6:35 [NIV] But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. We are told to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us and to do good expecting nothing in return. This is a decidedly one-sided piece of advice.
Using the New International Version to search the Bible for the word “love,” you’ll find it to be used 574 times in the scriptures.
Here are two more scriptures about God’s love for us. Exodus 34:6 [NIV] … "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,” John 3:16 [NIV] For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Here is one more about us loving others. Leviticus 19:18, 34 [NIV] Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. ... 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
I could go on. Again, love is mentioned hundreds of times in the scriptures.
1 John 4:11 very neatly and clearly binds the love of God for us to our responsibility to love others: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
At this time of the year, when we are reminded of God’s great love for us as evidenced by the sacrifice of Jesus and as we meditate on and celebrate His plan of salvation that begins with Him showing overwhelming love for us, we should also be recommitting ourselves to the two great commandments as Jesus Himself outlined them.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' … 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31 [NIV]
In a “tit for tat” world, God’s example of unconditional love is our goal. In the matter of love, the scale is decidedly tipped in God’s favor. We cannot repay His love. We’ll never balance out that scale. But we should try every day, in every interaction, to give more love than we receive.
Go ahead. Be unbalanced.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write to me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.