Friday, March 18, 2022

Measuring by the right standard

All photos courtesy of Unsplash

In the process of sorting through some items last week I came across some unusual rulers. At a cursory glance, nothing appears to be out of the ordinary, but a closer look reveals two lines of 12 inches on the top face. Both begin at the same mark, but finish in different positions.

Someone I know tried making a box with the help of one of these rulers. He took a tape measure and carefully marked the cutting position of one side then used the ruler to mark out another. When all was done, the box was screwed together, but the lid didn’t fit — the box was out of square. Taking the tape measure to each of the sides, the discrepancy was soon discovered but it took a little longer to realise it was because he had used a ruler with a different inch.

My rulers were from grandpa. He was the sort of person who shined his shoes every day before going to work and oiled and polished his tools once a week. He was able to craft things out of wood near perfect because he was a ‘patternmaker’. Whilst much of this is done today with the help of computers, years ago, when a manufacturer needed a metal object to be reproduced a large number of times, a mould would be used and this was made from a ‘pattern’. One complication with this task is that molten metal shrinks on cooling, so the pattern had to be slightly larger than the finished object. To save the patternmaker from performing these calculations whilst working, a patternmaker's ruler would be used with the shrinkage rate already accounted for, hence the larger inch.

When God told Moses to build a tabernacle (a tent where He would meet with His people), He showed exactly how it was to be constructed and followed it up with this important instruction: ‘See… that you make all things according to the pattern’.  Meeting with God would be on His terms. When the tent was finished, each item was carefully inspected and every detail was found to be ‘according to all that the Lord commanded Moses’. God was pleased and came into the tent to meet with and guide His people.

The Bible makes it clear that none of us measure up to God’s perfect standard. Many people have tried to measure themselves by their own standard of ‘perfect’ which differs from God’s. My friend ran into problems when he used a different inch. It may be that the lid could be adjusted to account for the out-of-square box, but God doesn’t compromise His standards to accommodate our errors. We are the ones who need to change.

The prophet Isaiah had this message from God: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’. In fact, there is a vast difference, for He continued: ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’. However, Isaiah encouraged individuals to ‘seek the Lord while He may be found’ and to ‘call upon Him while He is near’. God says that if people turn away from their wrong and toward Him, ‘He will have mercy on them… for He will abundantly pardon’.

But how can an uncompromising God freely forgive our sin? That is where the Lord Jesus comes in. He is the only one ever to have met God’s perfect standard. He never sinned because He is God’s Son — and God can’t sin, it is He who sets the standard. Yet, ‘Christ suffered for sins’ which He never committed, ‘the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God’. If there was any other way, God wouldn’t have sent His Son to die.

When we realise that is God’s way, we will not try to measure ourselves by our own perception of ‘good’, or by comparing or contrasting ourselves with other people. His standard is not worthy to be compared to ours.

An old hymn simply says about the Lord Jesus that:
‘He died that we might be forgiven, 
He died to make us good,
That we might go at last to heaven, 
Saved by His precious blood.’

Used by permission of Messages with Meaning (14/03/22)
Written by Tom Merriman

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