How Do We Measure Up?
Many of the Bible’s pages are devoted to history. They describe how people lived their lives before God. Scripture tells us what people did wrong, reminding us that their failures are a warning to us (see, for instance, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13). It also tells us what people did right, challenging us to imitate their examples (see, for instance, Hebrews 11:1-12:3).
I got to thinking especially about that second aspect of sacred history, with its stories of men and women who displayed faith, devotion, love, courage, and sacrifice. What about me? How do I measure up to those examples?
♦ The eunuch from Ethiopia traveled to Jerusalem to worship — a journey of hundreds of miles (Acts 8:27). What about me? Do I balk at driving ten or fifteen minutes across town to worship on a Sunday night?
♦ The Jews of Ezra’s time stood in an open square from morning to midday as he read from the Scriptures (Nehemiah 8:3,5). On another occasion, they assembled outside in the rain as he spoke about an urgent moral issue (Ezra 10:9). What about me? Do I think a couple of hours in an air-conditioned building with padded benches are too much to endure?
♦ The Christians at Troas listened as Paul spoke long into the night (Acts 20:7). What about me? Do I get irritated if a preacher talks five or ten minutes longer than I’m used to?
♦ The Jerusalem disciples sold houses and lands in order to provide for their brethren in need (Acts 4:34-35). What about me? Is a simple phone call or visit to a struggling brother or sister too great a burden?
♦ The Berean Jews eagerly examined the Scriptures every day to confirm the message that was preached to them (Acts 17:11). What about me? Do I find it hard to spare even a little time to prepare for a Bible class?
♦ Jesus spent an entire night in prayer (Luke 6:12). What about me? Do I have difficulty staying focused enough to pray for five minutes?
♦ Daniel and his friends risked their lives rather than compromise their convictions (Daniel 1,3,6). What about me? Do I give in to temptation simply because I’m afraid someone might laugh at me?
♦ Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son just because God said so (Genesis 22:1ff). What about me? Even in very simple things, do I find it hard to take God at His word, trying instead to justify doing things my own way?
♦ Paul endured hazardous travel, deprivation, shipwreck, imprisonment, and more in his efforts to spread the gospel (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). What about me? Do I have trouble getting up the nerve to speak to a friend, neighbor, or family member who needs to hear it?
♦ Stephen prayed for God’s mercy on his murderers (Acts 7:60). What about me? Do I struggle to overlook even small offenses that others may commit against me?
♦ Moses left behind the wealth and privilege of Pharaoh’s household in order to stand with the people of God (Hebrews 11:24-26). What about me? Do I refuse to leave behind a bad habit that is hindering my spiritual life?
These and countless other positive examples challenge us to greater discipleship in our own lives. Let us be inspired by them. Let us imitate them. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).