Have you ever measured something only to realize it was in meters instead of inches? How about making the wrong cut on a craft project because your measurement was off only slightly? I am terrible with the concept of distance. Someone can tell me that something is twelve feet, and my mind has no idea what that really means. I can not visualize it. Then there are those who do not even need to measure things. Have you ever watched Rachel Ray? She measures using her palm. My food would be less than desirable if I cooked that way. Measuring things is a part of life. We even do it in our spiritual lives. I am afraid, however, that too often we are using the wrong measuring stick to determine our spiritual health.
There is an amazing illustration I heard that I use quite a bit when sharing the Gospel. You and I try to throw a rock and hit the North Pole. You might throw your rock more accurately than mine with a beautiful spin. Yet, neither of us is going to hit the North Pole, which is the target. We have both missed the mark. In life, we seem to be comparing our rock to someone else’s instead of focusing on the target we are supposed to hit.
Scripture is full of the example of Christ about how we should live our lives as believers. Jesus is the ultimate example because He is both fully God and fully man. He is God’s son sent to us to provide redemption from sin and eternal life (John 10:36 and 1 John 5:20 for example). In John 10:30, Jesus tells the Jews, “The Father and I are one.” He is not only God’s son, but He is also God. Jesus was born from the virgin Mary as a man (Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:30-35) and lived as a man here on earth. As Christ lived on earth, He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 4:15). As a perfect God/man, He is the true measuring stick.
As Christians, this is not a new concept. However, when we take a look at our lives, it seems we do not believe that Jesus is the standard by which we should live and measure our lives. If we go to church more than our neighbor, tell the Wal-Mart cashier about Jesus, or dress more modestly than the average teenage girl, we deem ourselves to be living a “good” Christian life. We have become people who look at how far we threw our rock in comparison to Joe or Sally down the road instead of realizing that we have all missed the mark of perfection which is Christ. There is always room for improvement when Christ is the example.
We have the attitude of the rich, young ruler. Do you know his story? He approaches Jesus and declares Him to be a teacher and desires to know how he can have eternal life (Matthew 19:16). Jesus tells him he must keep the commandments (vs. 17). The rich, young ruler then wants to know which ones, and Jesus proceeds to name all the ones which involve our relationships with other people; do not murder, commit adultery, steal, or lie, honor your parents, and love your neighbor as yourself (vs.18-19). The rich, young ruler is thrilled because he has kept all of these (vs. 20). To be perfect, however, Jesus tells him he must sell all his belongings and give them to the poor and then follow Him (vs.21). Scripture tells us that the rich, young ruler walked away from Jesus “grieving” or sad because he had so many possessions (vs. 22). In his own eyes and the eyes of his neighbors, the rich, young ruler was doing well. He treated people kindly and kept the law. I find it so interesting, though, that Jesus says in order for him to be “perfect,” he must sell his possessions and follow Him.
Many of us are fine in our own eyes and the eyes of those around us. We live our daily lives obeying the laws and treating people nicely. We each have a sin, however, that so easily ensnares us (Hebrews 12:1). For the rich, young ruler it was the love of his stuff. Some of us may fall into that category as well. We are busy keeping up with the Joneses. It may be a different sin; drinking, cussing, the music we listen to, the shows we watch, or the internet sites we visit. Whatever it is, it keeps us from being perfect, and who is the standard of perfection? Christ is. He told the rich, young ruler to remove the sin from his life and follow Him. Some of us are pretending to follow Jesus, but we have never completed the first step which is removing the sin from our lives. No; we will never be perfect, but we know when there is known sin in our life that we ignore because we love the pleasure of that sin more than following Jesus.
The challenge for each of us is to compare our Christian lives to the appropriate measuring stick: Christ. When we use anything else, we are only deceiving ourselves into thinking that our Christian walk is better than it truly is. It may be easier to look around and think we are okay, but in the end we will walk away from Christ sad because He is requiring more from us than being a “good” person. We have to know Him and follow Him.
May we be encouraged today to examine our walk with Christ. May we begin to remove sin from our lives and truly follow Him. Have a blessed week!