Friday, May 18, 2007


In 1991, the prefix yocto- was established by the General Conference on Weights and Measures as denoting a factor of 10−24. In 2003, the same body declared an international standard that commas should not be used to separate digits of large numbers for ease of reading. I hear in that the rumblings of coming revolution; the non-standard comma users will surely unite. In the meantime, what I find mildly strange is that we have an international body that meets on a regular basis to decide, for example, what exactly a kilogram weighs (they settled that one in 1889).

Everything in this world is subject to judgment according to a standard. If beef can be graded right alongside essay tests and art projects, if "1,000" can be declared non-standard, then it is certainly no surprise that human behavior is held to a standard as well. People watch what you do and, like it or not, accurate or not, from those observations your measure is taken.

There is a kilogram weight in Paris, France against which all other kilograms are measured. If I were to seize a watermelon and declare it a kilogram, not only would I most likely be wrong (depending on the watermelon of course), but the General Conference on Weights and Measures would surely descend on me with the full weight (excuse the pun) of their internationally standardized indignation. I expected much the same thing when someone told me the other day that I am a "good friend." Well-intentioned sentiment aside, I find myself questioning that declaration, given what it was based on. The same for being told that I have a "servant's heart." When someone said that to me, I lacked the moral fortitude to do more than mumble and equivocate, but really, is that a standard I meet? Is this watermelon really being declared a kilogram? (And where's the GCWM when you need them? Off defending the rights of opressed fluid ounce measures, no doubt.)

Perhaps you are wondering why I am balking at what were clearly intended as compliments and encouragements. I should be flattered, or better yet, encouraged, but the truth is, I know the standard and I do not measure up. I know my own heart, and I know my motivations — to compare those to the standard would only be to cheapen it. In a strange way it is also disheartening, because if my actions are favorably compared to the standard, what does that say about how well I am known by my friends?

This standard of whom I speak is Jesus Christ, whom I desire (but fail) to reflect, or do so only by grace. As Christians we are called to follow his example, to do as he did. I long for that, I strive for that, but I very, very often fail; to judge me less harshly would be amiss. The good news for Christians is that by grace the standard is no longer something which condemns us, instead it calls us and by the Spirit we are encouraged and enabled to eventually pass the test...and measure up.

Didn't He love them
Didn't He hold out His hand
Wasn't Jesus a model
An example to man
Of how we must love everyone in this land
And give till it hurts
Isn't that part of the plan

- from "Didn't He" by PFR



Blogger Kelly said...

Aww, man. You're quoting one of my favorite PFR songs. :-D

On a more relevant note:
What would you suggest that someone say to you as encouragement then?

"hey, Tree, you're being a little bit more of a friend than normal?" While the true standard is definately Christ, we can remember that sometimes, there are non-comma users out there who think in terms non-Christ-relative. In other words, they might be comparing you to themselves or even to that guy in jail facing the fact that he can't be with his family because of his crimes. (I was in a prison visiting someone recently, and that feeling of sadness weighs over you there like a blanket or a dark smoke)

My central point is this:
God will bring you into being like Christ. That's his plan. That's what his word says. One of these days, you really will be a "good friend". In the meantime though, you can think of these compliments from others as signs that the process of changing you into being like Christ, a process governed completely and totally by God Almighty, has already begun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger treeinforest said...

"Well-intentioned sentiment aside, I find myself questioning that declaration, given what it was based on."

I can take a compliment or encouragement in the spirit in which it was offered. What I can't and shouldn't do is be dishonest with myself about what standard it is based on.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 7:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

What was it based on?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Mickyann said...

Hmm, I think there is a slight flaw in this logic. While Christ certainly stands as the measuring stick for us to attempt to live up to, judgment is a privilege reserved for God. The standard is meant to give us something to work toward, strive for, stretch ourselves to achieve. It is not meant to serve as a means of judgment. Judgment for those in Christ will NOT BE fair, thanks to His incomparable grace. For people to judge you AT ALL would be amiss. The standard exists specifically to prove that we can never measure up...that we need Christ, just as the law was BC (Hebrews).

While a 'good friend' would certainly encourage you in your endeavors to reach the standard, they would never judge you for your lack of attainment, rather, they would praise you for having already achieved victory by letting Christ run the race for you. You don't have to be Christ because He already was...and is, and is to come.

Furthermore, human behavior in itself is relative, unlike measurable units of ... measure-ment. There is no scale. Christ tipped the scale in our favor when He died so that we could die with Him.

Jon, you should accept compliments as an encouragement, not that you have arrived, but that you WILL arrive, not based on your own attempts or actions, but based on God's grace which is constantly at work within you giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.

Okay, stepping down from the soapbox. Jon, you are a great friend, a wonderful, insightful person, and most importantly, a child of the king. Don't judge yourself, or worry about the judgment of others, right or wrong. Your standard has been achieved for you.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 1:04:00 PM  
Blogger treeinforest said...

Thank you for your encouragement, Michelle. At the same time, I think I am using the term "judgement" in a different sense than you seem to be. To clarify, I am referring to evaluation (positive or negative), rather than simply condemnation.

I agree with you that for people to judge me (or for me to judge others) in the sense that you are using the word would be amiss, because no one has the authority and righteousness of God. However, the Bible does tell us to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as confront them when they sin. How would either of these be possible without some sort of evaluation according to the standard God provides? That's the only way we even know what sin and righteousness are.

[Going on a semantic tangent for a moment, I have to address your statement that the ultimate judgement for those in Christ will not be fair. I agree with you that the judgement will not be what we deserve in and of ourselves, however it will be fair in that by God's grace we are clothed in Christ's righteousness, and thus (and only thus) meet the standard. For God to judge unfairly would be no justice at all. Blame the twelve seminary students I go to church with for distinctions like this.]

A good friend would indeed encourage me for the times I act in fulfilment of God's standard, but at the same time a truly good friend would also point out to me when I am not reflecting Christ and encourage me to do better. I can't be truthfully called a good friend either unless I do the same for others.

I certainly accept compliments in the spirit in which they are offered. However, I am proposing that Christians should evaluate their and others' behavior against Christ's standard rather than "accentuating the positive" as it were, because even as Christians we will not get away with anything in God's sight — rather we will be judged as righteous only because our tarnished unrighteousness has been replaced by Christ's righteousness.

Saturday, June 16, 2007 6:03:00 PM  
Blogger Mickyann said...

so, if you are using the term 'judgment' to refer to correcting others in Christ, 'as iron sharpens iron', then I am in complete agreement with you. In fact, I don't think there is NEAR enough of that going on in the body. It is our duty as a family to encourage each other to strive to be more like Christ.

So, I pose that the initial definition for the word 'judgment' was imprecise. ;-)

But, I still maintain that we can't be too hard on each other, or on ourselves for that matter. Too harsh 'judgment' leads to despair and all kinds of things that Christ never intended when He set us free to pursue His standard.

It supposed to be hard, otherwise "too light winning [could] make the prize light." ;-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007 1:02:00 AM  
Blogger treeinforest said...

I'm sorry, but that's not exactly what I mean. Judgement, as I defined it for this discussion, is evaluation according to the standard God has provided. So judgement is not the correction (or encouragement) of others in Christ, but it is what makes that correction (or encouragement) possible.

I am not advocating harshness (or at least not undeserved harshness), but wholehearted adherence to a standard, the standard. In other words, I am advocating something I am currently incapable of performing.

Saturday, June 23, 2007 1:23:00 AM  

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