The Balance Beam
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1 Do not fret because of those who are evil, or be envious of those who do wrong; 2 for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away.
We read this at church yesterday.
I was sitting with my family, and we’d just finished a great worship session. We had a lot of praise go around the room, and my heart soared with happiness. It was the first time in a long time that I felt very joyful at church- guilt and sadness have been some of the latest church experiences I have had due to several aspects of my life. As we got ready to close, the man leading worship today read the verse above.
Wow, I thought. Wow… this is… this is exactly what I needed to hear.
How many of you have been “fretting” or worrying over those “who do evil”? I’ll tell you something- this has been a struggle of mine for the last several months or so. After reading that verse yesterday, I felt like God specifically sent me that verse to tell me not to worry.
The recent court rulings that the government has issued in the last month have bothered me to no end. Those of you who know what I’m talking about will understand why. My heart was burdened that the government felt it could redefine marriage, boycott a historical flag and began to persecute churches and people who believe in the Bible and that marriage is between a man and a woman. So much has happened in the last month, so, so much. This is the beginning of the persecution of the church, we all know that. Ordinarily persecution doesn’t scare me very much, I have been waiting for it my whole life, knowing it was coming, but now my heart hurts for those who are making these bad decisions.
The reason I get so bothered by these things- actually there are a lot of reasons- is because when something bothers me, it tends to get stuck in my head. Images. Thoughts. I can’t get them out sometimes. I feel like such a bad person, because these things, these thoughts, these images, they get stuck in my head. I’m a very visual person. I have seen and will continue to see those who are in blatant sin. I deal with them often in my daily life, and I can tell you hands down that I treat them with the utmost respect and love, but inside my heart hurts for them.
But along comes this verse at church Sunday that tells me not to fret because of evil men, or those who do evil, depending on your translation.
I get very burdened by sin. I feel so bad for those who are in sin, I feel so sad that they’d sin against God, it just hurts my heart. I wasn’t meant to carry the sin or guilt of the world, that’s God’s job. But, on the flipside of the coin, there’s another side to this story.
I don’t want to be someone who is totally desensitized to the world around me.
A good example is one I will sheepishly admit and confess to all you readers- I am someone who loves comedy. Particularly political humor. I love political humor, especially when it comes to making fun of international relations. I find it hilarious. But, if any of you are familiar with things that contain political humor, you will realize that some of those things can get very dirty very quickly. My problem is I like to find all the “good” ones of a particular show or comic strip series and avoid the bad ones. Guess what? By trying to sort out the good from the bad, I expose myself to a lot of bad and impure things. Those things get stuck in my head. At first I am very bothered such things are stuck in my mind, but eventually I get used to it, brushing it off and thinking to myself, I found all these good ones and I don’t watch/read those bad ones, besides it doesn’t bother me so much anymore because I’m finally getting a grip on how to block that stuff out.
Wrong. Surprise- I just desensitized myself.
It's only been in the last month that I realized I did this. This is a serious struggle for me. I have to
really watch myself, because when I think I have finally overcome my temptation to read and watch those things, I find myself doing it again and exposing myself to a lot of immorality. Things that used to bother me quite a bit didn’t bother me so much anymore. At first I thought it was because I had finally overcome my struggle of being so burdened, but then I realized because of my love for political humor I had compromised on several things that should have really bothered me. And because of that, I was coming to the point it didn’t bother me so much anymore. That’s not good, either. I never, ever wanted to see or hear those bad things, but I wanted to enjoy a show and laugh a bit, and let it slide. I shouldn’t be filling my head with anything that I have to weed through to find the “good things”.
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There’s a verse for that as well:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.
My love for humor, particularly historical and political humor, isn’t bad. But exposing myself to all those bad things, such as immorality, language, and crude references, to find the “good” episodes or the “good” comics was filling my head with bad things and desensitizing me. That’s not right, either!
So how do we find a balance between “do not fret” and “thinking on praiseworthy things”?
To be honest, I don’t really know how to do this yet. I don’t know how to find the balance. I am a sinner. I am struggling with being overburdened by sin, and being totally desensitized to it. I think a lot of people are in this position. We don’t want to become part of the world, but we do live in it. We shouldn’t be shocked by the sins and atrocities committed by those who don’t love Jesus, but we don’t want to become hardened by it. We need balance. We have to have balance. We can’t be either way. If we’re overburdened by sin we have a hard time operating and witnessing to those who are in that particular sin. If we are desensitized to it, then we often don’t think enough to tell someone that what they’re doing is wrong and direct them to Jesus, who can save them. Both places are not good places to be.
There is only one way I know to live in balance between both extremes- through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He is the only one who can teach us and show us how to balance this out. How to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
God put us in this world. We live in this world. We can’t close our eyes to the bad things forever, we can’t pretend they don’t exist, we can’t shut out the world. But we can’t accept it and ignore it, either. We must find balance. Jesus can give us that balance.
In conclusion, some of the things I’ve been learning recently from several wise church leaders and family members I will share with you now:
- If you are depressed, sad, or burdened for a particular person, sin, or things that are going on around you that are out of your control, pray about it. That could be God’s way of reminding you to pray for that situation. If it's constantly coming to your mind, then take an opportunity to pray about it. This is huge, and it works very well to come to a peaceful state of mind. Prayer is powerful!
- If you begin to find that language or immorality or any number of things aren’t bothering you anymore, don’t just assume that “oh, that’s just not a struggle for me.” Examine yourself. Find out if you’ve desensitize yourself to the point of not caring about the sin. Pray about it! Don’t feel guilt if this is the case, feel convicted that God is pricking your conscience so you don’t become hardened to things he wants you to care and pray about.
- Finally, if you struggle like I do with mental things getting stuck in your head (I am a very visual person- I can see something for less than a millionth of a second and I will remember it for years. This can be a gift- and a really bad thing as well. If I see a bad image or picture it will be stuck in my mind for a very long time.) or bad words that ring around in your mind because you heard them said/saw something that bothers you, pray again. Prayer is so important, but what’s even more important in this situation is reading God’s word. You cannot extract a “bad” thought without putting something back in its place. Anytime I am struggling with my thoughts I try to read my Bible if its on hand to read, or, if I’m at work, I pray about it and pray for others to take my mind off the things I don’t want stuck in my head. Don’t feel horrid guilt that such things do come to mind, you are not alone. It could be the area that the devil attacks you the most is your mind. I can tell you with assurity that’s my area, and he tries very hard to make me feel like a wretched person for the things that get stuck there. Pray! Ask God to take it away! Sing songs, do things for others, read your Bible. Fill up the spots in your mind with good things. It really, really works.
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What about you? Have you struggled with any of these things? What are your thoughts and suggestions for living in the world but not being a part of it? Or, if you don’t have a problem with any of these things, do you have encouraging words for those who do struggle?
Thank you for reading and I hope this blessed you in some way. This has been on my heart to share for a while, but I wanted to wait until I felt pressed to write it. I don’t like to share something unless I really feel I’m supposed to. I want to be used by the Lord, and I want to make sure its His words being written down.
Take care and God Bless. Remember that you do not struggle alone. Everyone has struggles. Its the Lord who helps us overcome. Not on our own strength, but by His. <3