Maintaining Good Balance
“Brace up your minds for activity, keep completely balanced and set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Pet. 1:13.
1. How is the Bible a guide?
THE Bible contains good counsel and principles that were written down at Jehovah’s direction. They were provided as a guide for us, showing us the way we ought to go, the way that is for our good, the way that leads to eternal life. That is why the apostle Paul said: “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
2, 3. What are some of the ways a Christian should copy Christ?
2 If a person makes no effort to learn and apply what is in God’s Word, how can he become fully competent in the ministry? How can he be equipped to do the work God has commanded Christians to do? How can he make a claim of even being Christian? A Christian is one who follows Christ, one who walks in his footsteps. At no time did he ignore the Scriptures or neglect the ministry.
3 As he walked the way of Christian integrity he had perfect balance and was steadfast in his loyalty to God. Nothing could move him from that way. His followers today must have the same steadfastness if they wish to maintain Christian balance. “Consequently, my beloved brothers, become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
4. How is the Bible like a balancing stick?
4 This requires constant study of God’s Word as well as the application of its principles. It acts like the balancing stick used by a tightwire walker. As the stick helps him maintain his balance while walking his thin wire, so does the Bible help the Christian maintain balance while walking the narrow way of Christian integrity.
5. Why is it not easy to maintain spiritual balance?
5 At times forces in this world push and pull a Christian, making it difficult for him to maintain spiritual equilibrium. He may be pulled dangerously far one way by the world’s materialistic attractions or he may be pushed dangerously far the other way by worldly persecutions. In either case his integrity to God is severely tried. His ability to stay on the narrow way will depend on how well he cultivates his sense of spiritual balance. It will also depend upon how skillfully he uses the Bible as his balancing pole. With concentration and effort he can keep his footing no matter how hard the world tries to topple him.
6. Why and how must a Christian brace up his mind?
6 As the right mental attitude is necessary to cultivate good spiritual balance, so is it necessary to maintain it. If that attitude weakens, a Christian’s stability is directly affected. This means he must continually brace up his mind with God’s Word. He must meditate upon the hope that God has set before him.
7. Why must an overseer be especially watchful of his mental attitude?
7 A person who has been given the position of overseer in the theocratic organization must especially be watchful of his mental attitude. He sets the example for the others. Because of the responsible position he has it is easy for him to become self-important. He may come to think too highly of himself. If he does he is developing a bad mental attitude. The apostle Paul warns of this when he says: “I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think.” (Rom. 12:3) And to the Philippians he said: “Keep this mental attitude in you which was also in Christ Jesus, . . . he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.”—Phil. 2:5, 8.
8, 9. (a) What danger confronts some overseers, and what warning example does the Bible give them? (b) What must not be lost sight of?
8 When a person holding a responsible position in the theocratic organization has to make many important decisions, he may lose sight of the fact that he is merely a servant of the Lord. When speaking of the things he has done he may say, “I decided that the brothers should do this or that.” Or if he has oversight in the purchasing of necessary equipment he may say, “I bought this or that for them.” This is a very dangerous mental attitude, for it is the very attitude that brought divine rebuke upon Moses and Aaron at the waters of Meribah. When the Israelites complained for lack of water Moses said: “Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” (Num. 20:10) By saying “we shall bring out water” Moses exalted himself instead of giving glory and credit to God. It was God who brought out the water, not Moses and Aaron. They were merely instruments used by God.
9 The same is true with an overseer. If he makes decisions and purchases for the theocratic organization he must not foolishly exalt himself by saying, “I did this or that.” It is the organization that did it, not he. He is merely its servant, the instrument it used. He should remember what happened to Moses and Aaron and humble himself before God. Humility must not be lost sight of no matter what position a person may hold in Jehovah’s organization. “Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.”—Jas. 4:10.
10. Why should an overseer welcome counsel?
10 Humility, then, is essential to having a right mental attitude. The person who has it is willing to accept counsel from others. No matter what position he may hold he knows that he is imperfect and can profit from counsel. “Counsel in the heart of a man is as deep waters, but the man of discernment is one that will draw it up.” (Prov. 20:5) He will encourage others to speak the counsel that is in their hearts. He will not let his position create a barrier that will cause that counsel to stay in their hearts. He knows that he needs it more than anyone else because of the load of responsibility that rests upon his shoulders. The humble overseer who draws that counsel out is insuring the maintenance of a good mental attitude.
11. Why is the right perspective necessary?
11 The perspective a person takes is important too in maintaining spiritual stability. Does he take an over-all view of where he is in the stream of time? Does he see the past, present and future in one grand panoramic view? Does he see the prophets writing under inspiration, and then the fulfillment of those prophecies in this modern age where he is? Does he see Armageddon bringing this wicked system of things to an end and then the righteous new world that will clothe the earth with peace afterward? Can he see himself in that new world helping to clean up the ruins of the old world? Can he see how essential it is to keep separate from the old world now and from its wrong desires? If he can get this perspective it will help him to remain steadfast on the narrow way of Christian integrity. But when a person is spiritually nearsighted and can see only what is immediately about him he will have difficulty standing firm. It is essential to see the over-all purposes of God.
12, 13. How should a Christian evaluate the theocratic organization?
12 Related to right perspective is a proper evaluation of the organization and the Christian ministry. A good perspective helps create this evaluation. A person cannot divorce himself from the theocratic organization and consider it as of no value to him. He needs it for spiritual food, he needs it for its association, he needs it for encouragement, and he needs it for direction and instruction in the ministry. He cannot get along without it.
13 The Christian with the right perspective of God’s purposes will have a clear view of the important place the theocratic organization holds in those purposes. He sees how it is doing the tremendous educating work Jesus foretold when he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) He sees how God is blessing it and causing it to be fruitful and to prosper spiritually. He will always cherish it and stay close to it. He needs the help it can give that he might maintain his balance on the narrow way to life.
THINK BEFORE ACTING
14, 15. How does a Christian live under trying circumstances, and how does the Bible give him sound counsel?
14 A Christian lives under very trying circumstances because the atmosphere created by this world in which he lives is not conducive to righteousness. Wickedness, selfishness and greed abound. The wicked prosper, whereas those who try to live godly lives suffer. This does not help him maintain spiritual equilibrium.
15 Here again the Bible comes to his rescue and gives him sound counsel: “Do not show yourself heated up because of the evildoers. Do not be envious of those doing unrighteousness. For like grass they will speedily wither, and like green new grass they will fade away. Keep silent before Jehovah and wait longingly for him. Do not show yourself heated up at anyone making his way successful, at the man carrying out [his] ideas. For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth.”—Ps. 37:1, 2, 7, 9.
16. How should the prosperity of the wicked be viewed?
16 Because the wicked prosper, a person should not be moved with envy to put his own hand to wickedness. Just remember that their prosperity will not last. They will soon be gone like the grass that withers and dies. “Do not show yourself heated up at evildoers. Do not become envious of wicked people. For there will prove to be no future for anyone bad; the very lamp of wicked people will be extinguished.” (Prov. 24:19, 20) They will never receive the gift of eternal life.
17. Why can a Christian never let up in his fight to maintain spiritual balance?
17 Since a Christian must live in this world with its atmosphere of wickedness, he must constantly fight to maintain his clean Christian identity. He must keep his spiritual balance or he will topple from the high, narrow road of Christian integrity and plunge into the world’s swamp of unrighteousness. When he feels the pull of wrong, worldly desires he must think; he must reason; he must let good judgment direct him, and not emotions; he must hold to the principles of God’s Word. By maintaining spiritual balance he will be living when the wicked will be no more. “And just a little while longer and the wicked one will be no more, and you will certainly give attention to his place and he will not be.”—Ps. 37:10.
18. What does it take to maintain spiritual balance?
18 When a person steps on the narrow way of Christian integrity he leaves behind the unlawful actions of the world. He turns his back on its practice of giving no regard to the legal restraints of God’s Word. He has climbed out of the world’s immoral swamp and now walks a way of high morals. But it is not easy for him to maintain his balance on that way. It takes concentrated effort. It takes the help of God’s Word and organization, and it takes a constant desire to improve his spiritual equilibrium.
19-21. (a) What should a person do if he feels himself being pulled off balance? (b) In what way is great damage done by the Christian who falls?
19 If a balanced Christian feels the pull of wrong desires or wrong influences he will think about the effect his intended actions will have upon his relations with God. Will they bring dishonor to the name of Jehovah, whom he represents as a dedicated minister? Will they bring His favor or disfavor? And what about the organization? How will they reflect on it? Will they bring reproach upon it? Will they cause him to become like the Israelites who had acted improperly? “And when they came unto the nations, whither they went, they profaned my holy name; in that men said of them, These are the people of Jehovah, and are gone forth out of his land.” (Ezek. 36:20, AS) A balanced Christian will think carefully before doing anything that would put him in the same position as those unfaithful Israelites. He will not profane the name of Jehovah God by improper actions.
20 “He will remember what Peter said: “Beloved, I exhort you as aliens and temporary residents to keep abstaining from fleshly desires, which are the very ones that carry on a conflict against the soul. Maintain your conduct right among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your right works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection.” (1 Pet. 2:11, 12) A little forethought on the part of the Christian is much better than a great deal of remorse.
21 He would also do well to think how his actions will affect others in the congregation. How will it affect new members and people who are just manifesting interest in the truth? If an overseer, for example, should become careless and lose his Christian balance, will he not cause those who are weak in the faith to stumble? Will he not cause some good-will persons to become cold toward Jehovah’s organization? Will they not misjudge it by his wrong action and speak evil of it? Great damage can be done by the Christian who loses his balance. This should never be forgotten or ignored. But if the Christian permits reason not passion, and logic not emotion, to move him, he will find it much easier to maintain his equilibrium.
22. Why is prayer very necessary?
22 It is not possible to maintain spiritual balance without prayer. It keeps a person reminded of his dependence upon Jehovah God. It is one of the ways he can express his heartfelt gratitude for what God has done and will yet do. It is the way he can talk with Jehovah, unloading his troubles and worries upon the heavenly Father. “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God, and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 4:6, 7.
23, 24. Explain where a person’s mind should be during a prayer, and why.
23 Sincere prayer brings a person near to God, just as it is written: “Jehovah is near to all those calling upon him, to all those who call upon him in trueness.” (Ps. 145:18) He is near those whose mind is on him and his interests and whose heart is in their prayer. To pray with one’s mind on something else is not praying in sincerity. Such a prayer is mechanical and meaningless, just like the prayers of those whom Jesus spoke about when he quoted his Father’s words spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “This people honors me with their lips, yet their hearts are far removed from me.”—Matt. 15:8.
24 Whether a person is praying privately or in a congregation his mind should be on what is being said. Prayer is communication with the Creator and is certainly worthy of our closest attention. We must keep our minds stayed on Jehovah to maintain spiritual equilibrium. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in Jehovah for ever; for in Jehovah, even Jehovah, is an everlasting rock.” (Isa. 26:3, 4, AS) Heartfelt prayers engender greater trust and dependence upon Jehovah. They help the Christian stand firm while surrounded by the corruptions of this old world and while being buffeted by its persecutions.
THE PROSPECT AHEAD
25. Why is the narrow road of Christian integrity not a fruitless one, and why cannot weaknesses in one’s spiritual equilibrium be ignored?
25 The narrow road of Christian integrity is not a fruitless course. It has rich rewards now and in the future. They are prized rewards that are well worth seeking. But they will go only to those who are spiritually balanced. This means Christians with weak equilibrium must correct their weakness and steady their footing without delay. It is a serious matter that cannot be blissfully ignored.
26, 27. What are some of the rewards a stable Christian now enjoys, and to what does he confidently look?
26 Great peace of mind is one of the rewards the balanced Christian now enjoys. No matter how turbulent world affairs may become, he is not disturbed. He knows what the future holds and knows that he is walking the way that leads to survival. This eliminates any fear of God’s coming destruction of the present wicked system of things.
27 He has the joy that comes to those who love God’s laws, who live by his principles and who engage in his service. His conscience does not prick him because he has acted improperly or has failed to do what was required of him. His mind is at ease. He looks forward to being an eyewitness of the earth’s transformation into a paradise home for obedient mankind. And he confidently expects to be living more than a thousand years from now when the gift of eternal life is given to those who have walked the narrow way of Christian integrity.
28. How does the one who is spiritually balanced view death?
28 If he should be faced with death before then, he has the prospect of being brought back to life in his resurrection as one of the bride of Christ or on earth as a human creature, gaining his hope of everlasting life on earth, because he did not slip from that narrow road. Because of the resurrection hope the balanced Christian can face death with no qualms or fears. Persecutors cannot intimidate him with threats of death. He steadfastly maintains his integrity in spite of what they do or say.
29. What has happened to some who found the narrow way to life?
29 As Jesus foretold, few of earth’s total population have found the narrow way of integrity. Of those who have, some failed to maintain spiritual equilibrium and fell. A few of these fallen ones recovered and made the very difficult climb back. It was only by their sincere, heartfelt repentance and God’s undeserved kindness that they were able to return to the road. How long they stay on it depends upon them. If they now act as wise persons by watching how they walk and by developing and maintaining good spiritual balance they will be able to stay on the road until their goal of eternal life is reached.
30. Can a person ignore the symptoms of poor spiritual balance, and why?
30 What happened to those who fell and did not recover should be a warning to all who walk that road. They cannot be indifferent to the forces that pull them or push at them, trying to make them fall. They cannot ignore Scriptural warnings of stumbling stones. They cannot close their eyes to symptoms of poor spiritual balance. Too much is at stake. Let them do as the apostle Peter said: “Brace up your minds for activity, keep completely balanced and set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Pet. 1:13.
31. What can be expected as the complete end of the present system of things draws nearer?
31 As we draw nearer to the complete end of this present wicked system of things, it will become increasingly more difficult to stay on the narrow road of Christian integrity. It will require greater skill and stronger determination to keep spiritually balanced. If a person is unsteady now, how can he stand then?
32. (a) How only can a person reach the goal of eternal life? (b) Of what value will the balanced Christian be to the organization in the meantime?
32 The goal at the end of the road is worth all the effort and endurance necessary to maintain good balance. Your future is a bright one, an endless one, if you keep your eyes on the goal ahead and your feet firmly implanted on the road of Christian integrity underneath. With good spiritual balance you can walk that narrow way as sure-footedly as the tightwire walker walks his thin wire. It is only by maintaining your balance in all things that you will reach your goal. In the process of getting there you will be a dependable and useful instrument in the hands of Jehovah God and his theocratic organization.