Why do builders use levels, squares, measuring tapes, etc.? An experienced carpenter shouldn’t need such basic tools anymore right? With a lot of experience, he should be able to simply take a good look, mark, cut, place and nail without ever consulting a measuring instrument, right? Not exactly. The experienced builder knows that optical illusions abound when simply “taking a good look” and that relying on a standard is far better. When it comes to interacting with people, the spiritual “lay of the land” or “shape of the room” can create some optical illusions for the spiritual eyes.
So for a disciple of Christ, what’s the real standard for nailing down positions on various things? Is it the specific truth of scripture, or some form of it from memory that simply “appears level”? For example, most people would agree things like lying, stealing, committing murder or adultery are wrong, but a closer look at Jesus’ teaching reveals that even contemplating them is a problem (Matt. 5:28).
The truth God established as standards predates all of us and to properly identify the boundaries, here are a few measurement questions:
- Do you view the Old Testament as Jesus interpreted it? When Jesus taught, He quoted many scripture passages contained in the Old Testament. It’s tempting to pick and choose verses from the OT that contain strong condemnation for what we dislike, but ignore the ones challenging believers’ attitudes and hearts (like the religious leaders in Jesus’ day did). He preached a complete Gospel message using Old Testament passages.
- Do you view priorities as Jesus defined them? Jesus identified what should be top priority in the lives of those who call themselves believers. When asked about the top commandment, He replied,
“’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” –Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV
- Do you have reconciliation as motive? As we interact with people, there’s no shortage of opportunities to use the truth as a weapon. Paul even references the truth of God’s word as a sword (an offensive and defensive weapon) in Ephesians 6:17. However, use of it should ALWAYS be tempered by the goal of seeing people redeemed in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 the mission is called the “ministry of reconciliation” and the job of the follower is to be an “ambassador for Christ”.
If we love Christ, we’ll love who/what He loves; and that’s the measurement to check for.