By Major Sharon Robertson –
I learned it from my brother-in-law–who learned it from my brother–who probably learned it from my dad, who seemed to have been born knowing such things.
Like many lessons in life, it is obvious, once you take time to think about it–if you want to cut a number of boards exactly the same size, you must use only the original as your standard for measurement. That’s because when you place your first board on top of the second, and use it to mark the length the second is to be cut, the second will be just slightly longer than the first. You probably won’t even notice it. Then use the second board to measure the third–again the newly measured board will be just slightly longer than the one you used to measure by. And so forth, until by the time you reach the end of your stack of boards, the last board will be inches longer than the first.
The lesson being, as my brother-in-law points out, when you want to measure something accurately, whether it’s a board or your life, you must measure by the original perfect standard.
This rule holds true when it comes to the standard for Christian living. We have only one perfect standard by which to judge what our Christian life ought to be–Jesus Christ himself. No other standard–no other example of Christ-likeness–will ever be adequate.
Far too often, we excuse our spiritual shortcomings by comparing ourselves to some other Christian–“Well, but the divisional commander doesn’t . . .” or “I heard the corps officer say…” or “At least I never behaved like…” So what? There are no Scriptural admonitions to “let this mind be in you as was also in the divisional commander…” or “Be ye imitators of the corps officer.” We have but one standard by which we should measure our own Christian life: the standard set by Christ.
The calling to service in The Salvation Army–whether the call to soldiership or to officership–is a high and holy calling, an appointment to serve as ambassador and personal representative of Jesus Christ himself. And like it or not, when you and I claim to represent Christ, citizens of the world will examine our lives to determine the effectiveness of the Christ we represent. The more our lives fall short of his example, the standard he set, the more misleading the representation.
The more satisfied I am to compare with my own Christian life to the lives of others, the less effective I will be in reflecting the standard set in Jesus.
It all boils down to this (see Philippians 2: 5-11): “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…”
…Who relinquished a position of power and prestige because of his passion to save sinners;
…Who was willing to identify himself with the poverty-stricken, the suffering, the dying, so that the poverty-stricken, the suffering, the dying might receive power to be identified with him;
…Who was obedient to God, even when it hurt!
…Who went about the Father’s business even though others failed to recognize the value of his ministry;
…Who was shamed, rejected, killed . . . but offered no complaint, because God’s purposes were being accomplished through him.
God, grant me the wisdom
To pattern my life on that of Jesus.
Protect me from the folly
Of letting the standards set by others
Obscure the perfect standard