Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:12

God’s Measuring Stick

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As I have been trying to get more exercise lately, I have been riding my Schwinn “comfort” bicycle with its padded seat that looks like it goes on a tractor, not a bicycle.  To make sure that I don’t stop before I actually exercise, I bought an odometer so that I can see how fast I am going and how far I have been.  This little device has made me acutely aware of speed and distance as measured with numbers.

 

I can just be as happy as a lark in my less- than- fashionable gym clothes, riding down the bike trail, basking in thoughts of how good I am to be exercising when suddenly, a young athlete whizzes by me.  They are all decked out in the “proper attire” for the sport, on a bike with very skinny tires, and saying irritating things like “passing on your left”. 

This has prompted me to think about how all of my life, numbers have been my measuring stick of my worth in this world.  In this setting, I am riding at a speed of 10-12 m.p.h. and having a great time until someone passes me going 14-20 m.p.h.  and I overhear them talking about riding 20-50 miles yesterday.  I am trying to make it 10 miles today and suddenly feel like I am not a bike rider at all because it is such a struggle for me to go my distance.

Many times I have looked at the numbers on the bathroom scales, or the measuring tape around my waist to determine who I am.  In America, if those numbers are small, we deduce that the person is strong, self-disciplined, and valuable. Men may measure how tall they are or the circumference of their biceps.  Some of us have looked at the balance in our check book, the zip code of our residence, or the price of the car we drive to measure who we are.  Others may have looked at SAT scores or the bottom line on their investment portfolio to determine their worth.  For some, it is the price of the clothes they wear, the numbers their child’s report card, or how many home-cooked meals that they have served this week or deals they have closed to determine what they think they are worth. 

Spiritually, I think it began for me with those little white Sunday School envelopes.  There were boxes to check if you had read your Bible daily, brought an offering, memorized a verse, or brought a visitor.  The more boxes you checked, the more pleasing you were to God.  Regardless of your motive for what you did, if your envelope had several check marks, you went home feeling successful and valuable.

As I have come to know the Lord better, I have learned that my ways of measuring are not His ways.  He tells us in Isa 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “

So how does He measure what I am worth?  Is it what I do or why I do it? When God measures me, He doesn’t use scales, a tape measure, a yardstick, a checkbook, an odometer, or any other human instrument.  He uses the Cross on which His Son gave His life.  If He measured us by how well we keep the Law, or even the commands of Christ, we would all get a zero.  If He measures who we are after we place our faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, because of Jesus’s perfect record we are a 10.  As Max Lucado says, "Does God love us because of our goodness, kindness, or great faith? No, He loves us because of His goodness, kindness, and great faithfulness."

Is it possible that He allows me to be frustrated in my attempts to gain “self-worth” by any of these other means because He wants me to see and use the numbers on His measuring stick?  He had one Son and He let Him die so that I might live.  2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. “

How can we measure that with our silly numbers?  Rom 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. “   This is God’s way to show us our value to Him. 

If we use anything but the cross as our measuring stick, we might find how far or fast we can ride, how much money we have in our pocket or bank account, or how we compare to others.   Numbers are useful perhaps for commerce or statistics but never meant to tell us who we are or dictate who we can become as the Spirit indwells us and God does his work of sanctification in us.  Jesus knew we would be faced with the temptation to determine who we are by what we have and do so He addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew  6:32-33 says,   “ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

Since self-worth is built on our performance, instead of Christ’s performance on the cross, it leaves us open to either pride or despair.  As we learn to value what God values, hopefully we will throw away our measuring instruments and learn to live by His.

Read 10247 times Last modified on Tuesday, 31 July 2012 22:45
Kathy Haecker

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