“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~Matthew 7:1-2
This scripture, or really all of Matthew 7, really hits home. In fact, I was talking about it with a friend the other day. I was realizing all at once just how flawed my servanthood is. See, I try to have the heart of a servant (as we should!) and I suppose I do. But it isn’t a constant heart. I’ll give – either time, prayer, food, whatever it is I can give to bless a person. And at some point I expect that to be reciprocated in kind. I get frustrated when it isn’t. Then I complain.
The law of common sense says ‘you get what you give.’ It’s human nature to expect it and desire it. But when we expect appreciation and support from people for doing things we’re supposed to do anyway (we are called to be servants, after all), and don’t receive it, it can trigger bitterness in us and can even start to affect that relationship. And really, it makes no sense to apply human nature here; you can’t use worldly standards to measure God’s work and calling. It just won’t add up. Serving someone the way Jesus said to, and by Jesus’ example, and using my human measuring stick to determine that the person I served should now turn around and bless me….well that’s just silly. The concept of having the heart of a servant is all over the place in the Bible. The concept of serving only when it’s reciprocated is nowhere. When Rebekah watered all those camels at the well and spent hours doing so, was she measuring how much she would get in return from this elderly servant? No. She helped without measure, as she was called to.
A few days ago I posted about a friend who has had a lot going on, and how no matter how much time and prayer I gave to her, I felt like when I needed prayer, I was brushed aside. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was thinking in terms of ‘she always ____’ or ‘she never ____’. I was generalizing. And it wasn’t fair. After all, how many mistakes have I made in the eyes of the Lord? How many times have I put God second or pushed Him farther back on my to-do list that day? And yet, for all that, is Jesus really holding up a measuring stick to my faith? Is He measuring how small my steps are today compared to what they were yesterday? Or how far to the right or left my focus is, rather than on the straight and narrow path He’s set before me? No. He isn’t. He may temporarily, just to bring it to my awareness what I’m doing. But as soon as I repent and bring my focus back in, He simply applauds me for coming back on track.
And yet, here I am, holding this measuring stick up to the friendship of a person who, like me, is only human. We’re flawed. And our flaws come with us when we sit at God’s table. It’s not up to us to decide who ranks better or what somebody ‘should’ be doing or how we ‘should’ be treated. Should Jesus have been crucified and tortured? Of course not – He didn’t deserve it. But He took it. And in spite of what He went through to save me, and in spite of the horribly poor job I do at repaying Him, He loves me. There is no condemnation in Him when I make mistakes, only forgiveness and love. My steps have been guided by Him today, but not measured. Neither should I measure anyone else’s.
So I am trying to break this habit of score-keeping when it comes to giving. My serving and blessing someone should have nothing to do with whether they’re serving and blessing me. I’ve actually started looking at it as a training ground. If I can’t serve a fellow Christian (someone who will pray with me when I’m dragging and faltering), how can I ever go out and serve others? Jesus, give me Your heart for this world. Help me to keep focused on Your eyes alone, and let the fire I see in them burn up my worldly measuring tools. No tool I have can show me Your work. So God, keep my eyes on You and give me a heart that takes joy in blessing others as you have so abundantly blessed me. I love You, Jesus, and in Your name I pray.
I invite you, readers, to take a second and think about what measuring sticks you’re holding. Go through your relationships – friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers – and look hard at the dynamic of the relationship. Is there someone you’re not inclined to do favors for because you know they won’t do the same to you? Is there someone you are frequently frustrated with because you give and they seem like a ‘taker’? Anyone in your life you’d classify as a mooch? Take a hard look at these relationships, and submit them with me to the Lord. Ask Him for His heart for each of these people, and to bless you with a generous spirit for them in spite of how they appear. Drop the measuring sticks once and for all. Lay them at the Lord’s feet and allow Him to take over and dictate how you serve – when, whom, and how often.
Our Savior was the ultimate example of this, and gave the ultimate gift. Compared to Him and what He did for us, neither we or our friends are all that great. Or all that generous. And He isn’t measuring us. So it’s time to stop measuring each other!
I’d love to pray for you in this and anything else God is doing in your life – write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless!