As I’ve got older I’ve noticed a drop in people’s standards. I have no hard evidence for this but I’m sure if you’ve been a driver for any length of time you’ve seen a real decline in road users use of the road. Maybe it’s just because there are more people driving these days or maybe just people care less for the rules, I don’t know. Also have you noticed a decline in peoples relational standards. Statistically we live in the loneliest generation even though we are more connected than ever to others. Maybe this is the result of technology or maybe we prefer to be more isolated and not care for our neighbour. Again our finances seem to be all out of whack these days. Years ago you would only buy what you had the cash for, now you can buy anything you like on credit and pay later. For many this causes a spiralling debt and much pain later on in life. You get the idea.
Where do we get these standards for living from though? Should we even be allowed to set our own standards or is it a bad idea? What is a standard in the first place?
The word standard is actually taken from an old Frankish term for a field sign, a flag or a banner on the battlefield. It was used as a rallying point on the field of war to gather the troops and show where the commanding officer is stationed, it was also a sign of identity for the troops to know which company or battalion they were a part of.
In the book of Exodus there is the story of Moses sending his army to fight the Amelakites. God had told him that he should stand on the mountain and when his arms were raised heavenwards the armies of Israel would be winning and if his arms dropped they would be losing. After some time Moses arms got tired so the tide turned in the battle. Aaron and Hur came to help and held Moses arms up for him for the rest of the battle and the army of Israel won the fight. During this time Moses had a revelation of God and said
“the LORD is my banner”
He was proclaiming God as his general, his superior officer who dictated the outcome of the battle. It was around God that the army rallied and identified with.
Remember that it was through Moses that God gave His perfect standard in what was known as the law.
About 1500 years later there entered another lawgiver. Jesus.
He rallied his early followers to a mountain and gave the new law. We now know it as the “sermon on the mount”. This new law was much harder to keep than the old law. Moses law addressed physical action and behaviours that could be accomplished by checking a list. Jesus new law addressed the hearts attitude which is a much harder task to accomplish. Externally we can put on a face and pretend to be a good person but inside we can have poor motives. Basically Jesus took the old standard and elevated it to a place of near impossibility. You can find the sermon on the mount in a bible, recorded by Matthew in chapters 5,6 and 7. It’s a good read.
But why is it important for us?
Ultimately, when we make our own standards for life we fail to live up to them and hurt people as a result of our inconsistencies. We may bring a poor reputation on our work colleagues, fellow students or even our friendship group.
I believe it’s important to hold to a consistent set of external standards for three reasons. I particularly believe that holding to Gods standards is even better.
These laws help protect us from hurting other people. Especially the people we love the most.
God is interested in who we are becoming more than what we are doing.
We have a legacy to continue.
I believe we have got to where we are because of the people that have walked before us.
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Many of our nation’s lawmakers were pious people making laws that protect our dignity and help prevent us disrespecting others. Basic biblical standards.
Jesus early in his message spoke of this when He said
Mat 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You see salt isn’t just for bringing flavour to dishes, it’s also a preservative. We as children of God are to preserve Gods standards on the earth today. We should love and encourage and extend the hand of grace when we fail or fall. To uphold human dignity and allow those who don’t believe in a heavenly Father to see another way of living. A way prescribed by God himself which brings blessings to us and those around us. As Jesus said
Mat 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Let us live to a higher standard and rally around our God during the battle of our minds and hearts when we feel discouraged and wish to give up the good fight of preserving something really special.