1999-08-19 - Standards
standard \Stand"ard\, n. [OF. estendart, F. ['e]tendard, probably fr. L. extendere to spread out, extend, but influenced by E. stand. See Extend.] 2. That which is established by authority as a rule for the measure of quantity, extent, value, or quality; esp., the original specimen weight or measure sanctioned by government, as the standard pound, gallon, or yard. 3. That which is established as a rule or model by authority, custom, or general consent; criterion; test. (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary)
Any language has rules that govern the correct use of that language. Many of the world's languages, if not all have some exceptions to those rules. I before E, except after C, is an example of an exception in the English language. The word spelled read can be the past or present tense of the verb. In languages governed by computers, such as BASIC, C or HTML, exceptions are far more limited. There are rigid standards in how a structure in a file must be constructed to produce the desired result. If an HTML document (web page) is not correctly built, it will not display in the reader's browser correctly. The message will be lost because it was not "spoken" correctly to meet the standard required.
Matt 15:1-3 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." 3 And He answered and said to them, "And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
The Pharisees had written standards for conduct. The Mishna collected all of the laws and guidelines for observing the law of Moses. The Talmud was written as a guide and commentary to the Mishna. It is considered a serious scholarly work written by many scholars over two and a half centuries. It delves into questions from why God created the gnat, to the wonders in the creation of the universe. While it is an important work, it does not usurp the scriptures. At this point in the scriptures, Jesus corrects the Pharisees in placing the Word of God before the Talmud. This pattern of firm correction is repeated in several places.
Matt 5:27-28 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; 28 but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
This is a social standard. Adultery is still a crime in the criminal codes of the states of this nation. The idea that not getting caught means nothing is wrong is not true. Before the law of the land there is the law of God, which we as Christians must hold as the higher authority. This is not to condemn someone who has stumbled and fallen in this way. In Christ, there is mighty grace and forgiveness for this too. The woman brought before Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery was forgiven by Jesus with the compassion that a written regulation can not have. But, just like the Pharisees, this written social standard does not contain the full impact of the original intent. To simply look on a woman and desire her is in violation of the standard God intended. We take comfort in having standards and keeping them. However, it is not enough to have standards, but we must have the correct standards. I will admit my mortal flesh is not up to the task 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I should be able to follow the former, but the latter is nearly impossible for any mere mortal.
There is hope in the standard that Jesus lived before us. In 1 Cor. 10:13, He promises to make a way of escape for us so that we can endure trials. We are instructed to flee youthful lusts. The standard is useless if we do not know it and respect it. The hardest thing to obey is a rule book. The easiest thing to obey is something we cherish. You will spend your time in the things that you love. Get to know Jesus in the pages of the gospels. If the Master fills your field of vision, then the enemy and all the temptations of the world will be a mere shadow on the periphery of your view which is easily dismissed. If His words are blessed truth and life to you, they will be simpler to obey.
The words of the Irish folk hymn, Be Thou My Vision, speak this idea with stunning clarity for me. Consider that if naught matters other than the fact that God exists, our focus completely on Him, what things become important. God becomes the standard and Heaven the goal.
Be Thou My Vision
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.