In the past few weeks we have been made aware of standards. Some meat packing plants have failed standards. A roller coaster didn’t perform as it should have. Some students are writing standardized exams. Certain wage earners are demanding that their standard of living is maintained.
Standards are the gauges by which performance or quality is measured. We speak of high standards, a standard of excellence, lowered standards, and even double-standards. Comparison to a standard is such a commonplace activity that we do it daily, even hourly, without even being conscious of it.
Spiritually, there are standards too. Some people call the Ten Commandments the standard for morals and behavior. Others use the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Some would say the Beatitudes are the standards and still others would hold up the two great commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
The most lofty standard was given by Jesus Christ when He said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:24).
When we set our own standards, we can usually reach them. In some cases, if the standard is too high, those attempting to reach it are able to have it lowered, making it possible to hit the mark. I remember a school teacher telling me that the standard for city police in that state (in the U.S.) had been lowered so that they could include the required number of minorities - in order to fulfill another standard that had been set.
However, no person meets the standards of God. No one is perfect, no one loves God or others or themselves completely. Not one person is consistent in treating others as well as they want themselves treated, and all of us have broken the commandments, in thought if not in actual deed. We have missed the mark, fallen short of the target. We do not meet the standard. Scripture uses a short, three-letter word for that. It is called “sin.”
I talked about sin once to a group of children in Junior Church. One lovely little 4-year-old rolled her eyes and declared, “But I haven’t murdered anyone.” No, she had not. But she had written her own definition of sin, and changed the standard so that she could measure up to it. Have you ever done that? I have. Even doing that is sin too.
God, who never changes, established a standard that He will not change. But He is not heartless and indifferent to our failure. Instead, he offers to change us. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you . . . and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
Our part? Just ask Him.