For “Mature” Christian Men – How are you doing?

So you’ve been a Christian for a number of years. You’re likely married with kids. You’re working hard in your career, trying to please your wife day to day, and feel the weight of raising your children to know and serve the Lord in a desperately wicked world. You have obligations to your relatives, to your neighbors, and to your nation. You want to please the Lord and you are mindful that you will give an account at the judgment seat of Christ. You struggle yourself with temptations that you thought you would have put behind you long ago. Life is racing by. How is it going?

I’ve been a member of many conservative Bible-preaching churches over the years, as my career has moved my family around the country. It took me quite a few years to realize that there was one huge subject that was never taught. Over a short period of time I suddenly noticed that I had heard hard-hitting sermons with the following admonitions:

“Are you spending enough time in prayer every day? Do you spend even ten minutes a day in prayer for your wife? For each of your children? Do you pray for this church? For the lost? How can you be right with God if you’re not in prayer!?”

“Are you raising your children to know and honor the Lord? Do you spend even an hour a day with them? Are you teaching them? Loving them? Do they come to you with their problems?”

“Husband, are you loving your wife as Christ loved the church? A woman has needs different from a man, which include the following . . . (long list here). Does she respect you because you’ve earned it? Are you guarding your marriage?”

“Why did Jesus come to this earth? It was to call sinners to repentance – to preach the Gospel. How can you follow Jesus if you are not sharing the Gospel with lost sinners? Were you at our weekly ‘visitation’ meeting last week?”

“If you’re not here at the church every time the doors are open, then you’re forsaking the assembling of the brethren. How can you miss a church meeting and be right with God?”

“Are you taking care of the financial needs of your family? Are you working hard for your employer, showing a good testimony, and taking care of business? Are you a good steward, staying out of debt and saving for your family’s future needs?”

“Are you tithing, giving above that to missions, and helping out those that you know have financial needs? What about last week’s ‘special offering’? Did you give sacrificially for that?”

. . . and others

Each message, standing on its own, was perfectly reasonable. But each message was a pulpit-thumping call to maximize effort in that particular area. What if I were to embrace each call with all my heart? For example, why not give “sacrificially” to that special offering my pastor announced . . . and it was definitely a worthy project! Typically, though, a pastor won’t mention that over the next twelve months, there will be about fifteen more equally worthy special offerings. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could plan ahead and budget for these? Woe unto you if you do work hard, build a savings / investment account, and then get hit with the weighty plea to give sacrificially for the next building project / missions trip / choir robes / new carpet / hymn book purchase / outreach event / etc. / etc. / etc. There goes the savings account. Then perhaps you get hit with unforeseen medical bills and go into debt. Now you can’t give much at all and you’re therefore out of the will of God. Tough . . . maybe God is chastising you . . .

Woe to such pastors that “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders . . . that devour widows’ houses . . . but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” What a frightening prospect when such teachers stand before the Lord themselves.

The issue is BALANCE. How do you get right with God and stay right with God, considering all of your responsibilities and pressures from church, family, business, and culture? Is it OK to say “NO!” to demanding people sometimes? Even if you respect them? Yes — learn to say “NO!” (Be polite.)

More importantly, how do you prepare yourself for the judgment seat of Christ? In your career, for example, you plan and work hard to prepare presentations to senior management. You want to look your best. Additionally, you’re continually mindful of your annual performance review. Bonuses and promotions are at stake!

How much more is at stake for you at the judgment seat of Christ? Yet most Christians make only passing mention of this awesome event. You had better be ready for that performance review! At that meeting you won’t be able to call on your pastor, your wife, your boss, or anyone else to represent you. Everything in your life will be “naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Are you working in preparation for that meeting? Are you “building the file” for that review?

One of the Scriptural passages that can be used to summarize BALANCE in the Christian life is 2 Peter 1:3-11. Please read it thoughtfully:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

For the purposes of this article, what I want to emphasize from this passage (and related ones) is that God has given to us all things that we need to do right by Him. We have the Holy Spirit indwelling us and we have the word of God. We have the promises of God throughout Scripture that enable us to call on Him to empower us to live a life of glory and virtue. The virtues in which we should be growing are not unattainable, but are normal for the child of God.

Let’s get practical. Forget the unbalanced preaching you may have heard in your life. Scripture is balanced in its content and delivery. The heaviness of Jeremiah’s message was just right for his people in their time. The beauty of Paul’s message in Philippians was just right for churches struggling under Jewish and Roman persecution. The messages to the seven churches in Revelation were just right for them.

Let the word of God speak to you. Don’t build your doctrine and life on the whims of the preachers and teachers under whom you sit. If they are building you up, that’s a blessing. But they are preaching to a mixed crowd. The crowd won’t be standing with you at Christ’s judgment seat. Study the word, pray for wisdom, and settle your conscience in how to balance your life. Make sure you have time in your life to relax and time for solitude. Solitude is a rare and precious luxury these days, but you can choose to schedule some . . . or just spontaneously indulge.

Shouldn’t we be in prayer for the lost, for our families, and for our church? Shouldn’t we be working hard on the job with a good testimony? Shouldn’t we be giving generously for truly worthy needs? Yes, of course – but God has given you the responsibility to balance your resources and time before the Lord. You decide the balance. If you are in prayer about this, the Lord will tweak your conscience as needed. He won’t fail to guide.

If you’re the type who is going crazy trying to meet all of the external pressures on you – each of which seems reasonable at the time – then you’re on the road to falling from usefulness, as Peter states in verse 10, and as Paul fears for himself in 1 Cor 9:24-27. If you fall, it’s your fault. God will give you the strength and the wisdom if you ask Him (James 1:5).

If you’re the type that doesn’t know what I’m talking about, because you’re just going through the motions spiritually, attending church but doing little else, then you’ve got a lot of repenting to do. If you’re truly a born again Christian, then devotion to the Lord and His work will be of utmost importance to you. Everything you do with respect to your family, your work, your spare time, your church, and your personal relationship with the Lord will be built on Biblical truth. If you don’t see this, then you’re likely a false convert, along with millions of other American churchgoers, headed for hell. If that’s you, please read my article on this site, Your Biggest Problem & Your Greatest Need – a short tract.

Let’s simplify a bit. Recall that the Lord Jesus, in Matthew 22:34-40, summarized the entire law with the two greatest commandments — to love God above all and to love your neighbor as yourself. As a Christian, if you work thoughtfully to accomplish each of these commandments weekly, you’ll be in good shape. You simply cannot do everything daily, but God designed the week for the patterns of our lives. The other side of the coin is that if you fail to make progress in important areas on a weekly basis, then you’re getting nowhere at all.

You’ll find another simple model described in my article, Three Pillars for a New Testament Church – A Simple Model. The three pillars are truth, love, and zeal. On a weekly basis are you adding truth to your life by studying and memorizing the word of God? Are you reading good books? Are you redeeming the time in these evil days, or do your evenings, weekends, and lunch hours slip by without any growth?

Are you guiding your family in love on a weekly basis? Consider how many tasks you schedule on the job. Go ahead and schedule time with your wife and your kids. Give each one individual attention. Balance these needs along with everything else so that your conscience is clear before God. If you pray and work at this, you’ll do a great job and won’t burn out. Are you loving the Christian brothers and sisters who are part of your fellowship? When you get together with them, are you passive, or do you plan and work to encourage and strengthen them at least a little bit each time you meet?

Finally, are you zealously reaching out to the lost with a Scriptural Gospel? If you have nobody around you to team up with, then find a better church, or start one yourself (see my articles on the house church). If your pastor doesn’t do personal evangelism himself – each week – then what is he getting paid for? And how can he be qualified to teach you the Bible? If you have a wife and kids, you need to be training them to do evangelism. Schedule some time every week for this wonderful, privileged task. If your children are involved with you in evangelism, they will get saved at a young age and will get much experience in analyzing the stupid and Satanic philosophies of the world. See my many articles on the subject of Evangelism.

If you diligently build your life up under the admonitions of God’s word, those temptations you struggle with will diminish. They will look more and more stupid to you. You won’t have time for them! The Lord may or may not bless you with a complete removal of a particular temptation, but victory will be yours if your life is simply filled with right things – that’s called practical righteousness.

And wherever you are in the world, I’d be glad to be a friend to you and your family, especially if you need encouragement to get started – see the CONTACT US page.

The balance in your life is certainly going to be different from the balance in the life of your pastor, your friend at church, and everyone else. God has gifted you uniquely and you are placed in a particular part of this world for His service. The Christian life isn’t complicated. Love God and love your neighbor – according to Scriptural truths. Don’t quit.

– Dr. Dave

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