Martin Luther once said “the world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off on the other side. One can’t help him, no matter how one tries.” [i]
Today we might use the analogy of a bicycle, but Luther's point is clear: sometimes balance is the key to faithfulness.
If you want a balanced view of work, avoid the errors of an excessive work-aholism and an unreliable slothful attitude to your job.
If you want a balanced view of money and possessions, avoid the errors of hoarding and consumerism.
If you want a balanced view of food, avoid the errors of gluttony and asceticism.
If you want a balanced view of the Christian life, avoid the errors of legalism and license.
Many of us think of holiness and love like riding a bicycle. Lean too far one way or the other and you’ll fall. The goal is to balance between the two extremes of holiness and love.
“Yes, let’s be holy but not so holy we forget to be loving!”
“Yes let’s be loving, but don’t forget we’re supposed to be holy!”
This idea even affects how we think about God. “Yes, God is love but He’s also holy" we tell ourselves (and others). As if His holiness is the safeguard that keeps Him from slipping over into the dangerous territory of being “too loving.”
But holiness and love are not two extremes that you must balance between, lest you fall off the bicycle of life. Holiness and love are more like the pedals on the bicycle. You can't have one without the other. They work together.
That's Peter's point when you put together everything he writes in 1 Peter 1:14-25:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, (15) but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, (16) since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (17) And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (18) knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, (19) but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (20) He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (21) who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (22) Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (23) since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (24) for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, (25) but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
[i] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, trans. Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967), 111.