The Need for Generous Balance

Too often we view stewardship through “all or nothing” lenses: I’m either a good steward, or I’m not.

The reality is that our generosity takes place in moments, we have endless opportunities to practice stewardship—whether to improve or regress. It’s important, then, that we take a healthy perspective on the subject, I encourage believers to approach stewardship with a posture of balance.

We might be inclined to see balance as undesirable or even sinful. In the book of Revelation we read about the sin of the church of Laodicea, that they were neither hot nor cold but “lukewarm.” As a result, some Christians hold that we must be completely committed to a perspective; otherwise, we believe we’re falling shot.

The reality is that there’s biblical nuance about balance beyond Revelation 3:15,16. There’s wisdom from the Old Testament that advocates the need for balance.

In Ecclesiastes 7, the Teacher offers a challenging word to those of us who follow the Lord. We read, “Do not be over righteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself?  Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool— why die before your time?  It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

The Teacher’s warning against being overwicked or a fool makes perfect sense; these are destructive tendencies that should be avoided. But it’s difficult to fathom that there are situations where we could be over righteous or overwise. How could admirable traits become negative?

The Teacher warns us of extremism. We’re told that those who fear God will avoid extremes. When we pursue certain absolutes, we tend to place our faith in our ourselves and not the Lord. Contentment in extremes can potentially erode our trust in God. A middle position, one of balance, is a posture of reliance on God.

In stewardship, extremism is found in both excess and frugality. When we view our finances merely as a means to fulfil desires, our personal happiness becomes a roadblock to generosity. Conversely, when we manage our finances so closely that we’re unwilling to spend anything, our focus on securing our future too often keeps us from meeting others’ needs. The challenge is to be self-aware, understand our tendency, and aim for the middle.

Striking balance—dwelling between extremes—can be awkward and unnerving. But it can also be one of the most rewarding Christian disciplines.