Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
There’s a debate going on in Christian circles nowadays. Some say that all there is to Christianity is to just “act like Jesus” and everything will be fine. You can believe what you want. But those on the opposite side say that you just need to believe the right doctrines, what you do does not matter at all.
But today’s passage says that both deeds and doctrine need to come into play.
If we’re overly reliant on deeds, two bad things can happen. One error is a feeling of “Sure, I’m in with Jesus –and since I am, I have no worries at all about what I do – I’m good. I can do whatever I want.”
In the second deeds error, we see how our good deeds fall far short – and feel we can never do enough. Recently, I got a personal taste of that. I read a blog post which basically said doctrine does not matter, you should be doing tons and tons of good deeds. But that post discouraged me. Not only did I think that my good deeds fall far short, but I also felt like my love for doctrine is a waste of time. My wife and I both felt we were being subjected to a satanic attack as she had her own doubts that her talented writing was “not good enough.”
On the other hand, when we over-focus on doctrine, we insist that being a good Christian simply means believing the right facts. Then, we end up being the “frozen chosen”, with a serious shortage of love and good deeds.
What is the solution? Let’s look at Proverbs 4
Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)
The boy in today’s picture faces a consequence if he turns to the right or the left. He will fall. He needs to have a balance. So do we: Our balance is that when we believe correctly about Jesus, we believe the doctrines of grace, which tell us that nothing we can do can make Christ love us more. That leads right to the correct view of deeds: we do good deeds with an attitude of gratitude for what Christ has done. Now we have the right balance between deed and creed.
This way of keeping our balance is not boring at all —what we believe is in sync with what we do, we are filled with the Spirit, we don’t turn to the left or right, and we are walking steadfast with our Lord!