The Measure of Man, Part 2
(This weeks devotional is written by Katie Moon, and continued from last week’s devotional, “Measure of Man, Part 1.”)
There IS a remedy
“Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me… When I am afraid I will put my trust in You.” (Ps. 56:1a, 3)
It is very normal and natural to long to know our value (our measure). We each naturally want someone to verify that we are valuable, we have dignity, and we are honorable. This longing is not a sin. However, if our trust is misplaced, our actions and our way in this world will be sadly and often severely misplaced as well. We will constantly seek validation from man, whose heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). Trusting in man for validation places fear in our hearts because man’s judgment is not based on truth.
“But perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18b)
Validation is always tied to judgment. We look to a measurer to “measure” us. Its why over and over again in Scripture when the issue of who we trust (or entrust ourselves to) rises, the issue of a judge rises as well. John 2:25 says “But Jesus on his part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people…for He Himself knew what was in man’s heart.” Here, the potential judge was mankind. Yet, Jesus did not gain validation from mankind, for He knew their hearts were desperately sick. Whomever we seek gain our value from is the “judge” whom we are trusting to measure us.
On the other hand, 1 Peter 2:23 tells us that “when He suffered He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.” There we see it again: Someone trusting, and Someone judging. Jesus was entrusting. God was judging… justly!
The Light Bulb Just Turned On
Learning this truth was like a big light bulb blinking on over my head. It’s quite simple, yet it could really revolutionize our thinking, and thus our acting. I act the most insecure when I’m the most needy for (deceitful, wicked, desperately sick) man’s approval.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God who’s Word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? (Ps. 56:3-4)
All you need is love…
As I was studying Jeremiah 17:5-10 I found myself mulling over the contrasting pictures of the shrub-man verses the tree-man. The man who trusts man is like a shrub (or bush) in the desert. The man who trusts God is like a tree planted by a stream. The root systems of each are vastly different. The shrub will be dry, unfruitful, and will not outlast a drought. It may seem to flourish for a time, but it will not last. The tree, on the other hand, has a deep root system, that “sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” (v. 8).
The mental image of root systems brought another well-known scripture to mind. I’ve often wondered over what it means to be “rooted and grounded in love” as Paul prays the believer would be in Eph. 3:17. Could this be our link? It seems to me that the more we believe someone loves us, the more we trust them. When we believe someone loves us, we believe we are valuable to them. We believe we have dignity and honor in their eyes. “Blessed is the man whose trust is in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water…”
Paul explains in His prayer that if we are already “rooted and grounded in love”, the Spirit will then supply the strength to comprehend what is the breadth, length, height, and depth of God’s love. We can then begin to know through experience His measureless love that surpasses knowledge. I see a progression in place here: We must choose to begin to trust God loves us. This roots and grounds us, like the tree next to the stream. When our roots grow deeper and plug in more to the source of “Living Water” we can increasingly understand and personally know this love that is as vast as our God is. The result? The result is being “filled with all the fullness of God.” That, my friends, is fruit bearing. That is freedom. That is joy. That is peace. That is security.
That Was A Mouthful
I know it was a mouthful I just slung at you. The bottom line is this: there is only one Measurer who measures us based on truth. If we don’t seek our validation from Him, our validation will come from a myriad of sources that are ultimately deceitful, and which cause fear. His love, His commendation, is Truth. It is measureless. And it casts out fear.
We must take three actions today to begin on a new journey to authentic security.
Do Three Things:
1. We must humble ourselves and pray. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” When we cease protecting/defending ourselves against mankind’s judgments, and entrust ourselves to our God for protection and defense, we feel vulnerable and exposed. This is why it is vital at the moment of bowing before God that we give Him these anxieties. He cares for us. He can be fully trusted to take up for us, to take care of us. This is why perfect love casts out fear. When we are tempted to fear man’s ill judgment, let’s trust God to change that man’s heart… or in the least exalt us at the proper time! (By the way, “exalt” is a Greek word that means God will “raise [us] to the very summit of opulence and prosperity; to exalt, to raise to dignity, honor, and happiness”. Now THAT is some validation!!)
Remember the boy’s father who exclaimed “I do believe!” then in a flood of sincerity cried out, “Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)? Do you believe God loves you? Don’t answer quickly. Really examine your heart. And don’t be afraid to cry out to the Lord, “Help me believe your measureless love for me!”
2. We must believe. As stated, we should not be shy to ask God in prayer for greater faith in His love. I believe this is a prayer God delights to answer. Yet, we must also do our part. We must choose to start believing His love. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Becoming “rooted and grounded” in love causes us to “abide in love”. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:16). Remember how when we have divine strength to know His immeasurable love we become “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3)? This tells us the same thing. Abiding in His love ultimately leads to greater degrees of God being seen in us! We must begin with belief.
3. Be Immersed in the Word. I began to do a peculiar thing in my study time this past fall. I was so desperate to really come to know how much I’m loved, that I made a place in my journal to write down every “love citing” I came across in God’s Word. Anytime I’d be in the Word, whether in my quiet time, in my seminary homework, or in church, when I’d see a verse that really spoke to me about the depth of God’s love, I’d write it on those pages in my journal. This little practice has been life-changing. God’s Word is Truth. If we aren’t in the Truth, we can’t know the Truth. We not only can’t know the Truth about how measurelessly we are loved by Christ, but we can’t know THE TRUTH Himself! Christ is the Incarnate Word. And He is intrinsically linked to His written Word.
In conclusion, here is a list of characteristics you might find yourself growing into as you place your trust in God and His love. What hope we have in Him!
The one who entrust Himself to God…
- is infiltrated with Truth—for he/she is directly connected to and filled with He who is Truth. (Eph. 3:17,19; 2 Tim. 3:14-16, Ps. 73:28)
- goes deeper and deeper in relationship with God. (Jer. 17:8a)
- realizes he/she is a pilgrim, a tent, a vapor, and the next life is concrete and eternal (1 Peter 1:24-25)
- finds greater ease and contentment in relationships
- resists judging others
- doesn’t fear temporal consequences or judgments, but trust Him to work just judgment in the proper time. (Matt. 10:28-31, Ps. 56:3-4, Ps. 118:6)
- lets God take up for him/her (1 Peter 4:19)
- is trustworthy (1 Peter 2:22)
- is humble
- is secure (Ps. 16:9)
- is free (ps. 118:5)
- is blessed (Jer. 17:6)
- trusts God (Ps. 118:8)
- makes God his/her refuge, is faithful to Him, tells of all His works (Ps. 73:28)
- has no fear of not measuring up for God (Prov. 29:25, Heb. 4:14-16, Eph. 3:11-12).
Oh dear brother and sister, its never too late to trust God more fully. We’re never too old to start looking like a precocious 17 year old boy in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. Our King profoundly loves us beyond measure!
“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” Ps. 63:3-5).
May 27, 2013 (9:17 am)
I want to say that this devotional is “SPOT ON” and very insightful. It is first and most importantly ‘firmly grounded’ in the Scriptures. That is the foundation. But there is a great deal of insight as well, reflecting long meditation and the working of the Holy Spirit in the heart, mind and soul to “understand” and then be able to put those insights into a cohesive form to communicate it to the rest of us. This reflects obvious ‘spiritual gifting’ that the Triune God gives to believers and it is ‘totally fun’ to be one of the beneficiaries of this gifting exercized in humble submission to the Holy Spirit.
All that said, GREAT JOB writing this, Katie. And PRAISE THE MOST HIGH GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH who uses us little humans to convey His greatness and goodness.
And I DO RECOMMEND for all to read it and ponder its ‘insightfulness’ into a very important TRUTH of Chrstian living.
May 29, 2013 (10:04 pm)
Pastor Terry, I stare at the screen stunned and speechless.
Grace. God’s grace. All God’s grace. No other explanation.
Thank you so much for your words.