The other night Luke, my seven-year old, was doing his math homework.  He had to find something in the house that was six inches long.  He rummaged around in the junk drawer and pulled out a ruler – the promotional giveaway kind I’m sure we picked up at a fair.  As he was searching around the room I could only see the back, unprinted side of the ruler.  I kept seeing him hold the ruler up to different things – a candle, a candy dish, a cup – and to me some of the things looked like they were hitting dead center on the ruler.  But Luke kept saying “No,” when I asked him if each thing was 6 inches long.  Finally, I snatched the ruler out of his hand, convinced that he wasn’t “doing it right!”  That’s when I discovered that the ruler was 13 inches long!  Seriously?  Who gives away 13 inch rulers?  I mean, c’mon! That messed-up ruler caused me to be wrong about the size of things.

I’ve got another messed up ruler that I need to lay down.  For a long time, I’ve measured the maturity of Christ followers by their knowledge.  I’ve always thought that the person who knew more, had more verses memorized, and could interpret or exegete Scripture accurately – or at least in a way that agreed with what I believed – must be farther along than those who didn’t or couldn’t.  That measure has caused me to be wrong more times than I care to admit.  Wrong about maturity, depth, strength…

It’s the wrong measure.

In the gospels and beyond, the mature ones seem to be those who do something with what they know…

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments…”

“…everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them…”

“…prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers…”

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying… I appreciate the scholar, the serious Bible student – I benefit from their work on an almost daily basis.  I’ve not turned into an “anti-intellectual,” – far from it, I’m the guy who reads systematic theology for fun…  I’ve just decided – when it comes to measuring maturity – to give more weight to those who are actually doing something with what they know.  Ideally, every follower of Jesus would always be learning AND serving.

I’m also applying that measure to myself – I have been the poster boy for those who are educated way beyond their obedience, and I’m taking to heart the predisposition I see in the pages of the New Testament toward action.

Let’s face it – nobody is going to get saved because I can satisfactorily explain the Trinity or exegetically finesse Paul’s thorn in the flesh or the identity of the giants in Genesis 6…  But if I serve them in practical ways, witness and share my faith, tell the Gospel truth every time I get a chance, the Holy Spirit just might catch hold of their heart and turn them toward God.

  1. Buck
    October 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Stellar post! A hearty amen from Virginia 🙂

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