Saturday, February 19, 2011

Too Long of a Stretch

“…but they measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule, which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure.” (2 Corinthians 10:12-14)

Anyone who has spent time in the Word of God knows that our immeasurable God is a stickler for accurate measure. (Lev.19:35; Job 28:25; Isa.40:12; Mark 4:24; Reb.11:1, etc.) And in the last twelve verses of the tenth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul tells us God has a means for sizing up His children, as well. But, beyond the standard measurement for all, as laid down in His Word, Paul tells us in verse twelve that God uses a one-of-a-kind ruler when it comes to you and me personally. So to compare myself to any other Christian woman, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, singer, writer, etc., is like trying to compare apples to oranges. There is no comparison. I may as well stand on a box, or in a hole, to see how tall I am! It’s a false measure. Those who live their lives and make decisions based on these kinds of skewed evaluations are not wise, says Paul. And I can tell you from experience, it can be extremely frustrating.

Verse fourteen talks about stretching ourselves “beyond measure,” trying to do things beyond our capabilities. I am aware God can, and will, give us extraordinary abilities for unusual circumstances; but generally speaking, God has wisely “…distributed to us, a measure to reach [those He means for us to reach]” (v.13). So, to stretch myself beyond this place is to risk being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing, when it comes to doing and being my best for Him.

Nor is it smart to boast of things beyond our measure (v.15). After all, says Paul, we’re working with borrowed capital here (“…other men’s labours…”) When it comes to the servants of God, there is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Any success I may have had as a wife, mother, or grandmother comes from having the Bible for instruction and godly examples through the years. I sing for the Lord because He gave me a voice to praise Him, parents who saw that I received training, and the blessing of with a wonderful voice teacher. I write because God gave me a fairly nimble mind, I received a good basic education, and I have a perfect Book, the fellowship of the Spirit, and wonderful memories from which to glean inspiration. And, according to many of you, in God’s mercy, I am able say with Paul, “[G]od hath distributed to me, a measure to reach even unto you” (v.13), my dear readers. Bless His Name!

Finally, when it comes right down to it, no one’s approval—not even our own—is of any value compared with the commendation of God. (“For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”) You’ve heard it said, “A man needs to prove himself to himself.” But that’s not what Paul says. It’s all well and good for me to feel satisfaction in a job well done, but I am hardly an unbiased critic! I dare not set my own standards or mark my own goals.

I intend, by God’s grace, to stretch myself to the very limit of the measure God has set for me…but not an inch beyond. Anything else is too long of a stretch.

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