Thursday, July 11, 2013

Benefits of a New Balance

Paying a bill the other day, I noticed the statement listed my new balance. It occurred to me this phrase – “new balance” – has multiple meanings, ones that are strikingly different.

The new balance the billing statement cited, of course, was the remainder on the debt that was yet to be paid. But then I considered New Balance shoes, which many people use for walking and running. The name promises both comfort and a proper fit and balance for wearers engaged in various forms of exercise.

When considering a "new balance," there
are many ways of applying the phrase.
There’s the new balance some people are demanding to alleviate the logjam of partisan politics and posturing that has slowed legislative progress in Congress. In sports sometimes we hear cries for a new balance to correct what’s perceived as a competitive imbalance at both collegiate and professional levels.

When economists review the balance of trade, the comparison of a nation’s imports and exports, they sometimes declare a new balance is necessary.

Even the Bible makes the promise of a new balance. Because similar to my bill, there’s a debt – in this case, a spiritual one – to be paid.

There are some who consider God’s acceptance in terms of a balance scale: Do enough good that outweighs the bad you’ve done, and you’ll be okay. Sounds right, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the Bible contradicts that rationale. It states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In other words, we’re way out of balance.

If we argue, “Well, what about all the good I’ve done?” the Scriptures respond, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) To emphasize this point, Romans 3:10-12 declares, “There is no one righteous, not even one…there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Put another way, even when we do good things, they are typically tainted with bad – pride, improper motives, selfishness and self-centeredness. What seems good to us is totally unacceptable to God.

That leaves us with a dilemma. As the jailer asked the apostle Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Or we might ask, “How then can I get right with God?”

Returning to the debt analogy, whenever we receive a billing statement that cites our “new balance,” it’s saying even though we’ve made a payment, we’re still indebted. Spiritually, every day we’re running up a “tab” of sin we can’t possibly pay – conscious and subconscious rebellion against God and disobedience to His standards. This ultimately is why Jesus came – and went to the cross.

As someone has said, “Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, to save those who owed a debt they could not pay.” The last word He said before dying on the cross was “Tetelestai," which means, “It is finished" (John 19:30). This word also was used on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to show a bill had been paid in full.

Perhaps when we arrive in heaven, we will be presented with a bill representing our spiritual debt, one we could never repay. But on the bill will be stamped, in blood red, the word, “Tetelestai.” Or perhaps, for those that can’t read Greek, “Paid in full.”

We’ll have a new balance – a zero balance. The debt has been satisfied. Can you imagine? 

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