Standard: An acknowledged measure of comparison for quantitative or qualitative value; A degree or level of requirement, excellence, or attainment; A requirement of moral conduct (www.thefreedictionary.com).
Setting a standard. A standard of measurement. Standardized tests. Certain standards have been around, it seems, forever. In the Old Testament, God had given Moses the Ten Commandments to express to the Israelites His standards that they were to meet. The Ten Commandments were God’s law that was to be obeyed in love and fear of Him. As none could follow the law, the law pointed to something greater: Grace given through Christ.
Because of our sinful nature, we have a tendency to want to live according to certain standards as well as to set standards for others. Where did these standards come from? These standards may be originally mentioned through Scripture, they can be the standards of others for us, like parents or other authority figures or loved ones; or they can be standards that we set up for ourselves. When we fail to meet these standards, we will be punished by those who made those standards (whether ourselves or others). If, as a child, my parents set the standard of me not painting the cat, blue, and I painted the cat, blue, then I would be punished (I should have painted the cat red, instead! Just kidding, we never had a cat) for not meeting that standard. If I failed to meet the standard of my own making, I would punish myself by sulking and getting down on myself (followed by comfort food).
We regularly make standards for ourselves and for others to meet. We call them expectations. These expectations vary depending on our mood, the time of day, the person, and the location. For example, when some wives are upset, they may expect their husbands to talk to them, to cuddle, or to leave them alone to figure things out. These are the expectations that vary according to moods and situations. These are the standards. These are the law. When they are not met successfully by their husbands, there is disappointment, hurt, and possibly expressed anger for not meeting the expectations.
All of us have standards for others and ourselves. The problem is, they are like God’s law (10 Commandments) in that they cannot be met all the time. Sometimes, yes…but all the time, impossible. Instead of them being God’s law, however, it is our law. We have raised ourselves to like God (as king) who has the right to punish others and ourselves for not meeting the standards we have set.
In striving to become like Christ, we must recognize how God responds to us when we fail to meet His standards. What does He do but give us grace. He does this through Christ who willingly took the punishment for our sins upon himself. Now, when we fail to meet God’s standards, we seek His forgiveness and receive his forgiveness through Christ.
But when others fail to meet our standards and expectations, how do we respond? Is it in recognizing Christ’s sacrifice for them, too, in the forgiveness of their sins against us? Can we recognize the grace that we have received in failing to meet His laws and give that grace to others who have not met our standards and laws?
Think about your own standards and expectations of others. What will you do when they fail to meet them? Ask yourself, what did Christ do for me that he hasn’t done for them? Will you look to give punishment that you have not received from God or will you look to extend the grace that you have received through Christ? Think about it.