Found (not) wanting

In the popular film, A Knight’s Tale, Adhemar says to William:  “You have been weighed; you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” This is a paraphrase from the Old Testament of the Bible (Daniel 5:27), which reads, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”

Good Monday Morning to this week 29 of 2019

The last two days I’ve been walking around with a 2-meter wooden folding ruler, not just thinking about measurements but also about sizes and perspectives and other matters.

To measure something is to determine a certain set of its properties in reference to a standard. At its simplest, it is a form of counting. Properties can include size, weight, duration, quality, or merely amount. Measurements are so important to our daily life that we often communicate in measurement terms without thinking about it.

Our God also measures. There are several well-known passages in the Bible that refer to measuring that give us some insight into God’s nature.

Proverbs 11:1 says “the Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him. Two more times in Proverbs, the same sentiment is given, even mentioning not only weights but differing measures that are detestable. Proverbs 16:11 further states that “honest scales and balances belong to the Lord.” In the spirit of James 1:17 (every good and perfect gift is from the Father above), combined with the well-known Christian principle that “all truth is God’s truth,” it can be directly inferred that accurate measurements are godly measurements, regardless of the application.

It seems like God is pleased with those who make an attempt to measure accurately and devise systems for accurate measurements. God’s concern for accurate measurements is not isolated to proverbial statements; they are embedded in the Mosaic Law. In Leviticus, the Israelites are commanded to “…not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. The same sentiment is reiterated in Deuteronomy where Moses restates to the people: Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. He calls to have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

When Daniel is finally called on to interpret the mysterious writing on the wall, he finds three phrases directly related to God’s measuring of the King:

Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
Upharsin: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.

Or in creationGenesis lays out the creation story then another passage in Isaiah relates to God’s sovereignty over creation as one who does so using measurements: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Another interesting passage that speaks of measurements is in John 6 where Jesus feeds the crowd, about five thousand men were there,  with a boy’s grocery basket. Philip’s estimate of how much it will cost to “buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” or half a year’s wages, literally 200 denarii. The amount of food remaining: “they…filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves leftover…”. It is important to the storyteller that they measured the number of baskets.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of applying an understanding of measurements in the Bible is to make it personal for example with spiritual measurements.  When one reads with measuring in mind – not just physically, in terms of amounts of things or passage, but spiritually – a new perspective can be gained. Two areas include references to faith and love specifically, followed by spiritual growth in general.

Then Jesus said to her, Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted. And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.
For I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
These trials have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Christ is revealed. Paul expressed a measure of love: The superlative when in the list of spiritual characteristics: “the greatest of these is love!

We see a pattern of measurements like a schedule, looks like God really expects spiritual growth. This is something one should be interested in measuring. Paul offers us an example of prayer that we should pray for others and seek the answer to the prayer to be filled full of Christ’s love. Paul tells us that God is using the circumstances of our lives to make us more into the image of Jesus.

The Bible is full of measurements as: A handbreadth, reed, day’s journey, talent, Drachma, sunrise, sunset, ninth hour or the third watch, all examples of precise measurements.

Insights can be gathered based on the emphasis that God seems to place on certain lengths of time or timing of events, numbers or amounts of things, and the value of certain items. Special notice should be taken when God gives someone a measuring assignment.  Even more interesting may be the intangible matters related to Christian living that give expectations of measurement. Jesus speaks often of faith as something that can be measured – He cites people as having little,  or much faith. Paul talks about faith growing as if one should be able to measure it – perhaps relative to our trials requiring a certain amount of faith. Peter offers his readers grace in abundance and expects them to “grow in the grace…of Jesus”, as if grace is something that can be measured. Jesus even states how one can measure the greatest love. Similarly, hope, joy, and knowledge are all referred to as something measurable in the life of the believer.

Tangible and intangible objects of measurements in the Bible offer us many associated implications as believers.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 17-19

Wishing you a great week and with the ever new perspective of God saying:

You have been weighed,
You have been measured,
And you had been found, not wanting!

Philemon

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