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Measurements in the Bible (2)

Our Sense of Measurement 

God has created man with an innate sense of measurement. If asked, we could quickly tell another our height, weight, and age. We know the distance or time travelled to school, work, or the beach. After a weather event, we chat about the precipitation measured at our home. God has fearfully and wonderfully made man with the ability personally to measure the world around us with our five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting. We intuitively know the temperature in our home and could likely guess the temperature to within 1–2 degrees of reality and determine whether we need to apply the thermostat for our comfort. Our ears can discern between a loud proclamation of the gospel and the quiet whisper of encouragement from a close friend. Our minds are ever focused on the measurement of time, knowing the day of the week, hour of the day, and even the minute of the hour.  

The Christian’s Life of Measurement  

As Christians, we also practice the principles of measurement. One of the most important measurement senses that God gives his people does not measure the world around us, but rather performs a self-examination of our thoughts, words, and deeds. Let us look at the Christian’s life of self-examination, in keeping with the three activities of measurement, by defining the Christian’s units of measurement, methods of measurement, and the traceability of our measurements.  

The units of measurement are righteous or guilty, true or false, real or fake, right or wrong, good or evil, acceptable or unacceptable, godly or wayward. Even as God gave Moses a pattern by which to build the tabernacle, so also God gave Moses a pattern for his people to order their lives. These units are defined by the law of God and his word. We can think of the law of God as being a perfectly plumb pillar against which all our thoughts, words, and actions are evaluated to see if they measure up perfectly plumb. In Isaiah 28:17 God says, “Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.” As God examines our hearts according to his perfect law, so ought we. Proverbs 16:2 warns against examining oneself according to his or her own standard: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” Often, we find ourselves wanting to alter the definition of these units of measurement by looking away from God’s law and looking to our own understanding or to a neighbor, fellow student, co-worker, or spouse. If we are to slip on our units of measurement and justify going where we ought not or hearing or doing what we ought not because he/she is doing the same or worse, we are on the path of calamity along with NASA’s wayward million-dollar orbiter. Let us be careful of how we define right and wrong and seek out the truths of God’s holy word to determine our way. This also holds true with respect to our beliefs, creeds, and confessions. We must measure our beliefs, creeds, and confessions against the word of God to ensure these confessions are the perfectly plumb word of God (Acts 17:11).  

The Christian’s method of self-examination is guided by our knowledge of God and his law and takes place within our minds and hearts. Christians measure their thoughts, words, and actions according to the law of God and the example of our perfect savior Jesus Christ. Without knowledge of God and his law as our guiding principle, our path of life will be characterized by foolishness, allowing our heart to express itself in folly (Prov. 18:2–3). As Christians, we measure the weight of our sins. The magnitude of my sins and miseries is one of the three things I must know to enjoy the comfort of belonging to my faithful savior Jesus Christ and to live and die happily (Lord’s Day 1, Q&A 2). I cannot know how great my sins and miseries are unless I examine and measure my life against the holy law of God. As Christians, we use our knowledge of God and of his law in real time, moment by moment, to measure our heart’s response to everyday situations. We give thanks that our covenantal Father has written his law in our hearts (Jer. 31:33). By God’s grace we take his word of truth with us everywhere we go, just as the successful contractor carries his tape measure on his belt. The child of God constantly evaluates his way, plans his path, and redirects himself to align with God’s word.  

Ephesians 5:15–16 exhort us to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The word “circumspectly” expresses a sense of accuracy about our walk that is generated out of an attitude of carefulness. Our method of measurement must be one that is accurate and carefully administered so as not to contain gross measurement errors. If our actions, thoughts, words, or doctrines are found not to be plumb according to God’s standard, we need to break down these thoughts, words, actions, or doctrines in order to rebuild according to his standard. This self-examination should not be the once-per-week satellite flyby that takes a snapshot measurement of our heart and quickly moves on. This measurement must be a thorough examination of our walk. The outcome of this examination is that we are brought to our knees in humility with the knowledge of how far short we fall from the mark (Rom. 3:23). This leads us to look to another who measures up perfectly to the law of God. That one is Jesus Christ. He is the reference standard by which all our measurements can be traced. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4) and “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things” (Rom. 11:36). As we count the magnitude of sins forgiven through Christ, our love for Christ is magnified (Luke 7:47). We conclude in confidence with the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:17–21), knowing that by faith Christ dwells in our hearts, which firmly roots and grounds us in love to the end that we may be able to comprehend to a small degree the width, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love for his church and the mystery of salvation in Christ Jesus. To him be the glory in the church throughout all ages, world without end.  

Originally published in Sept. 2019 Vol 78 No 9