The Measure of a Person

What is important to you? By what standard do you evaluate others? On what do you base your choices?

There are a couple of places in Scripture where it seems that our Savior uses a measure with us that we choose to use with others. So, what we do to, or with, others, He does to, or with, us. Does that sound weird? Okay, here’s one:

“For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15 NET

This statement is so important, Matthew quotes Jesus saying something like it again in Matthew 18:35. It should be a very sobering thought. Like the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, there’s a balance between ourselves and others in the eyes of our Savior.

Here’s another of those “tit-for-tat” sort of comments by Jesus:

And he said to them, “Take care about what you hear. The measure you use will be the measure you receive, and more will be added to you. For whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Mark 4:24-25 NET

Only this one has another strange element to it, “whoever has more will receive more, and whoever has little will lose what they have.” That’s just weird. If you have never thought so, have you really thought about it? It is antithetical to the popular approach to society. That’s the opposite direction of redistributed wealth preached by our society.

Of course, this “measure used on others will be used on you” concept has a tag of “and more will be added” feature. That’s not exactly balanced. And, if you are particularly mean, should be even more sobering.

The context of the passage in Matthew 6 is prayer, specifically seeking forgiveness. The context in Matthew 18 is seeking forgiveness also. The context in Mark, though, is hearing and understanding parables. That seems different, yet, this concept of using our measure with us is used in both places.

We have an old cliche which says, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.” The idea being that consequences follow our actions. Proverbs is full of this concept. Which, in a sense, is really all that God is saying to us (although read the accompanying parable in Matthew 18:21-35).

Here’s the thing: God, our Loving Savior, instigates the consequences. He is the One “punishing” with the standard we use with others. With the standard we judge, we will be judged (Matthew 7:1-2). The balance, or consequence, is thematic with Jesus, as it is in Proverbs. Which tells me my Creator thinks it is important.

We focus so much on the grace of our Savior, which saves us from our sins when we were incapable of saving ourselves. And we should. The grace of our Creator is truly Amazing as few things are. Along side that, let’s consider the “balance” used by our Savior.

So, when we are angry with another person, family, friend, or co-worker, let’s remember this balance. When we drive from point A to point B, let’s remember the balance with those on the road with us. When we deal with our kids, our siblings, our parents, let’s remember the balance.

I think the recent trend has been to teach “reaping and sowing” to get this idea across. It’s a good topic. It’s a vital life lesson. Keeping this in mind helps us grapple with the right deity, the One describing Himself in Scripture rather than one of our own imagination. And grapple we should. Let’s wrestle with God by the Jordan (Genesis 32:24-28)! We may walk away with a limp, but we will have a new name, and a blessing to go with it.

Balance. The center of our walk with our Creator and with our walk with others comes together on us. Like Jesus, let’s grow in favor with God and man.

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