March 16, 1993
To ensure walls are straight, a carpenter sometimes uses an odd-looking device called a plumb line. A chalk-coated string is wound from a metal bob and then suspended from the top point of the place that needs a perfectly straight line. As gravity pulls the bob perpendicular, the carpenter snaps the string and the chalk leaves an accurate mark on the wall that serves as a guide for the construction process. Without it, many buildings would be crooked. Thus this gadget is indispensable for keeping structures plumb or square.
Along the same idea, my husband occasionally writes procedures manuals for contracts undertaken by his company. If either the client or the contractors want to refresh their memories on exactly how the work will be done, they refer to such a manual. This set of procedures is important to ensure the project is undertaken with accurate and maximum attention given to each step.
Walls and construction sites are not the only projects that need plumb lines and procedures manuals. So does society — and there are many of them. Unfortunately, many humanly conceived methods and solutions to social problems are not working, or at least not permanently. Just when leaders think the latest treaty will keep the peace or the latest theory will educate the people, another war breaks out somewhere. Just when human rights groups think their latest programs and theories will eliminate violence, there is a rash of serial killings, or someone plants a bomb in a populated area of Ireland, or (closer to home) in the World Trade Center in New York.
Less violent or spectacular but just as deadly are the factors that cause breakdown of families, moral failures of religious and political leaders, and the incredible increase of suicides, abortions and AIDS. No matter how much money is spent or how many well-intentioned people promote new ideas, the statistics seldom decline. What kind of infallible plumb line would prevent social structures and relationships from becoming twisted, warped, askew, and out of plumb?
Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The psalmist was talking about God’s plumb line from which he gained understanding about what was crooked in his own life and what to do to straighten it. Because he did what it said, he could claim that the commandments of God made him wiser than his enemies and that he had more understanding than all his teachers.
Surveys have been done concerning how many people use the Bible as their guide for everyday life and decision-making. The percentage is not high. Even many who say they believe it admit they seldom read it. Therefore, the guidebook that could be a lamp for each person’s feet and a light for their path is sitting gathering dust on a shelf or in the back corner of a second-hand store.
Note that these verses pertain to the individual, not society. Yet what each individual does has an effect on all of society. For instance, environmentalists say if each person took care of their own trash and recycling, the entire planet would be cleaner. Therefore, the plumb line God offers is also important to all, not just individuals.
Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Proverbs 14:34 echoes: “Righteousness exalts a nation” then adds “but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Considering how many Bibles are seldom opened much less heeded, do we need to question why there is so little wisdom to cope with the enemies that shred moral fibers and crush spiritual strength from leaders and followers alike? We cannot hope for God’s blessing if we abandon His Plumb line.