Using the Largest Scoop

It might not seem the Bible is a place for maths lessons but here I am learning them.

I’m what you might describe as a cheerful but inaccurate measurer. As much as the ‘experts’ will talk about the science and chemistry of baking and insist that things must be precise I find myself throwing this and that in, making substitutions with little thought and I’ve yet to distribute food poisoning. My baking is not always pretty but it’s usually tasty and it’s served with love.

The Bible talks about measuring too. It says ‘with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’. Which is a beautiful verse if you’ve just emptied your wallet into a save the children bucket. In fact it also talks about things being pressed down, shaken together and running out all over – like a great big abundant 20-for-the-price-of-one deal.

The problem is that Luke and Matthew both use the line ‘with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ one is talking about generosity, the other is talking about judgement.

Same principle – different subject

Suddenly it becomes a gut churning, take-it-back verse if you’ve spent the last 10 minutes thoughtlessly bagging your child’s teacher, your partner, a friend, or some angry guy at the petrol station, to some friend or other.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Timothy Keller’s messages lately – they are very good. A few times he has referred to the idea of a tape recorder around our neck that records the way we judge others. He concludes (and I am wildly paraphrasing, so do go to the actual source) that imagine if God didn’t judge us by his standards, he just judged us by the standards we set for others.

The things we complained about, judged, disapproved of about others.

It makes me kind of sick to think about that.

The times I’ve bandied around frustration guised under the auspices of giving ‘helpful advice’ on how things could be better. Not to the actual people who could improve them, no, to someone else who agrees with my general judgement.

It’s just that communication is really important to me
A little bit more organisation is what they need
It just seems like they are being lazy
A bit of actual commitment might make a difference
In my opinion they’re not interested in doing it another way
to my shame it goes on.

All of those could be said, more rightly, about me.

And even when my mouth isn’t going my heart still is – judging, judging, judging. Like my opinion is actually the correct one, like I have some insight that the rest of the world, or that person, missed out on.

If it were all played back to the people I have judged I would burn with shame. I would try to excuse and explain away. I would be confronted with the state of a heart that needs rescuing.

To think that I might be judged against the standards book of life that I have written with my heart and my mouth is a terrifying thing.

So I am throwing myself on the radical forgiveness that reminds me it’s a good thing I’m not trying to make it on my own. It reminds me that I can’t even live up to my own standards let alone those of The Holy One.

And while I’m there face down, ashamed to even lift my head, I’m asking for some help.

I’m asking
for a bucket sized scoop for measuring out grace,
for a bucket sized scoop for seeing the best intentions of others
for a bucket sized scoop for giving, serving, encouraging with generosity

and when it comes to even thinking I might have advice to give and a better perspective on a situation I’m asking for a teaspoon… so that I realise how little understanding and wisdom I actually have to offer

when it comes to judgement… I’m asking that that scoop be smashed to pieces like the piece of deceptive evil that it is.

As my time unfolds I want to be found recklessly throwing bucket loads of compassion, grace, joy, acceptance, kindness, harmony and love to everyone no matter how many wrongs I’m tempted to see in them or feel from them. I think maybe that might start to touch on the 70×7 standard that Jesus calls us to.

In the meantime I’ve got to go through some draws and make a bonfire of some scoops I’ve been using too much.

God I cannot even live by my own standards, how can I hope to please you? Let your blood Jesus be a daily cleansing tide, your acceptance Father be a daily hymn of thanks and your counsel Holy Spirit be a daily gatekeeper at the weakness still in me.

If this is a particular thing for you when it comes to leaders and being given your chance to shine I would also highly recommend the book A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards… it’s a very quick read but I found it so, so challenging and uplifting too.

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