Ever suffer from the Martha and Mary syndrome? You want to be in intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ; flowing in His Spirit; full of power and wisdom (oh, hear the angels sing!). But you end up cleaning the church, teaching the Sunday School, visiting the sick, delivering Meals on Wheels, volunteering at the Senior Citizens Center, painting the homes for the local “Restore the Neighborhood” project, etc. You lie down each night exhausted, saying, “Oh, no, I didn’t get in devotions again. I didn’t get in any scripture time again. I didn’t even say, ‘Good morning, Lord’”.
We all struggle to keep balance in our lives–duties vs. devotions, worship vs. works, what shall we do? For starters, follow Jesus. He was the most balanced person to ever come into the world. He served His Father AND served His fellow man. He taught, He rested, He prayed, He traveled, He worked. He did all that we do, but He did it with peace and deep satisfaction knowing that His obedience was pleasing to God. When once asked what someone had to do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25) Jesus’ answer was to have a balanced life, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27). See–worship and works, devotion and duties. It is not one or the other...it is both. It is a flow, one to and from the other. If you really, really love God, you will really, really love your neighbor (meaning “the one near you”). That way, you will worship freely and do His works freely. You will have devotions with Him and gladly serve Him by serving others. As Tim Hansel writes in his book, “Holy Sweat”, God provides the “holy” and we provide the “sweat”!
God intended for us to worship Him; we were made to do that and have fellowship with Him. But His love example is so great, that He also intended for us to share that love with our fellow man. Yes sir, that is our joyful life, serving God AND man, devotion AND duty.
I think it was Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of England (I think it was you, Mr. Blair, forgive me if it was someone else!) who said that in leadership it was easy to say “no” to something; the harder thing was to say, “yes” and then do it. Be quick to say yes to God but you don’t have to say yes to everything. When we fill our schedules with good works, it is so very easy to drift away from the well of the water of life. We have the voices of the needy screaming at us to help them and that can sometimes drown out that “still small voice” of the Lord. God is talking about service not slavery, folks. Find out what God wants you to do and do it with all your might! That way you are worshiping God AND serving His people. By hearing from God, you end up doing what is in His plan, not just every good work that crosses your path. And guess what, Sherlock, the same God who leads you to the service you gave your “yes” to will also bring along someone to cover the service you said “no” to—voila, it’s all good, and it’s all covered. So, we can put down our superhero capes and just listen to God. Stay in that worship and devotion to Him and you will then know what portion of “duty” or “works” that He has in His plan for you. He is much better at the God stuff anyways!
Now, how can we succeed in what was just discussed? Does that mean one hour of service for one hour of devotion? Tit for tat? No, the Adam nature tends to think of “balance” in that way...sort of like a balance scale. One pound on that side means one pound on the other side to keep things “balanced”. Hm-m, not exactly.
Balance in God’s realm really means more of a flow. The Greek word for “spirit” is rheo, meaning “flow”. (We get our English word rheostat from it). So, the balance we so eagerly desire is really a “flow”. And the flow we are talking about is from God. So it is not so much a stiff devotion vs. duty thing as it is finding a right rhythm...sort of like dancing. God wants us “flowing” through the day. Duty, devotion, duty, duty, devotion, devotion. In listening to the Lord, He will set the rhythm of your dance for that day. Boy, is that freedom or what? Don’t worry about how to serve Him, just seek Him and obey Him, the “service” will come as a wonderful flow through you. The key is to just be open to the Lord for both. Be ready for devotions OR duty, worship OR works at any point in time, according to His plan and timing. That way you won’t feel guilty if some of the works don’t get done while you bask in the devotion or some of the devotion doesn’t get included while you toil in the works. Yup, just like dancing—sometimes you are stomping and sometimes you are floating across the floor, and it’s all good. Work, worship, duty, devotion, it all flows together. In this total submission to God, He’ll show you how to tend to both priorities.
Now, let’s say that you have been leaning a bit too far in one direction—not only is there no balance, there is no flow. Here are a few signs that may give you a hint or two what to do.
You may need to do a bit more “service” and “works” if:
(These could also be signs of something more serious physically or emotionally, so don’t let faith throw away common sense...be wise in what these things are indicating)
On the other side of the coin:
You may need to spend a bit more time in worship and prayer if:
Remember–a balanced life is really a dance before the Lord. Devotion and duty; worship and work. They go hand in hand, a flowing together. Say, that’s not a bad idea. Just dance every day with Jesus. Wow, why didn’t I think of that?