2002-04-25 - Measures
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NAS)
During the movie The Godfather, one of the characters turns to another and says, "Do you spend time with your family? 'Cause a man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man". My first reaction was to think that there is some truth in this statement, it is not a complete truth. Please don't misunderstand. Family time is important and indeed often overlooked. But there are men who have never had families and have been every bit the man than the best of Husbands and Fathers. To say that this statement is a complete measure would be an over generalization in my view.
Paul makes what might appear on the surface to be a very broad generalization when he says, "... all have sinned...". Indeed many people today feel even the concept of guilt and sin are outmoded and outdated. They will usually readily admit to not being perfect. But to get a large number of them to agree that imperfection implies sin is too much for them. It depends upon the measure or the standard that is being used to compare against. If the standard is to live a good life - meaning doing the best you can, being honest and loyal, spending quality time with the family, etc. - then you are going to get one grade based upon that measure.
However, when the bar is raised to reflect perfection, there are very few people who will even jokingly say they match that standard. The ones who do are often given a sidewards glance and dismissed as needing to rethink their statement at best. This is the standard that Jesus held up to the group of men that brought the woman caught in the act of adultery. The one who was without sin was given permission to cast the first stone at the woman they all had accused and who had never disputed her guilt. One by one the stones fell quietly to the ground - interestingly - from the eldest first down to the youngest.
I think there is some truth in the idea that the older we grown in our spiritual walk, the more we understand the fallen nature of man, the more we understand our own depravity - the quicker we are to accept an appropriate rebuke. The guilt of the woman was never contested. But the men, who were trying to trap Jesus, had lost sight of their own need of forgiveness and their own imperfections.
The world today struggles with the idea of sin and the requirement of perfection against the Law for entry into Heaven. If perfection were not the standard, and someone could enter Heaven by being good enough, then Jesus shed His precious blood in vain. But perfection is the requirement, and Jesus blood does cleanse from sin. He will give anyone who asks His perfect life in exchange for the tattered rags of their own life. But first they must see their need. Pray for the people in your social or work group - that their eyes will be opened to that need. Once the Holy Spirit opens the eyes and heart of someone, they are ready to hear the good news that there is hope! Until then, the measure of good enough shields men from seeing their need. If the ruler is wrong, the measure will be incorrect.
Lord Jesus - open our eyes again to see the debt You paid and open the eyes of those around us to see their need. Help us to point them to the true measure and be ready with the good news of salvation when they ask. Amen.
Grace & Peace,