We live in a time of measurements and standards. We are always being told how some service is performing, usually compared to another, be it schools, hospitals, care provision – we want to know how they measure up. Well I’m not sure we always want to know, but we keep being told. Like this story this morning!
But the wise amongst us realise that statistics can be “massaged”, indeed we are probably all familiar with the phrase
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics“
popularised by Mark Twain.
But we insist on getting caught up in comparisons.
We’re clearly running on a theme this week, as this reading re-enforces the principle of not judging others
6 So we are always full of courage. We know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord’s home.7 For our life is a matter of faith, not of sight.8 We are full of courage and would much prefer to leave our home in the body and be at home with the Lord.9 More than anything else, however, we want to please him, whether in our home here or there.10 For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him. We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done, good or bad, in our bodily life.
Friendship with God through Christ
11 We know what it means to fear the Lord, and so we try to persuade others. God knows us completely, and I hope that in your hearts you know me as well.12 We are not trying again to recommend ourselves to you; rather, we are trying to give you a good reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer those who boast about people’s appearance and not about their character.13 Are we really insane? It is for God’s sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake.14 We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that they all share in his death.15 He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake.
16 No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so.17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.
(Though the lectionary misses out v 11-13 – who knows why?!)
The good news is that God judges us according to his criteria, not the benchmark that others may use. What bothers God is whether we try to please him – end of. Again Paul reasserts the principle, it’s about people’s character, not their appearance.
No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards
Our rule, should be love – God’s love, the love Jesus showed when he died for all. That kind of love means living for God and his priorities, not our own.
It means that God is looking at us, not for the exterior that we present to the world, but for the truth of what is in our hearts and lives – a thought that at the same time is both sobering and comforting. It’s not about the front we put on for others, it’s about the love we carry, it’s about living God’s way.
Thank you Lord,
that you look at my heart,
and not the front I show to the world.
Forgive me that I do not always live in your ways of love,
but get distracted by shiny things.
Make I not be confused by what others might look to,
but seek always to live by your standards