As a little girl, I took it for granted that my dad, an engineer by trade, could fix practically anything. He was also a natural when it came to carpentry. He pretty much built our lake house single handed. I would watch him meticulously "measure twice; cut once." Then, after pounding two by fours into place, he'd get out a cord with a metal weight attached to one end. He'd hold it in such a way that the weight could dangle freely.
When I quizzically asked what he was doing, he responded, "This is how you determine exact vertical." He could see that I still looked puzzled. "Carpenters use plumb lines to keep their work straight," he responded. Then it registered with me. My dad used a plumb line as a standard against which he could measure what he'd built.
A plumb line doesn't change or move with the whims of the carpenter. It remains true, and all work must line up with it or risk being crooked.
God, the ultimate builder, and His Son, the Jewish carpenter, address the principle of "the plumb line" several times in the Bible. God established a plumb line, or standard, in order to test the spirituality, morality, and genuineness of His people.
In today's culture, we love to challenge exact vertical. We've become experts at justifying and rationalizing our behavior. We try to skew the plumb line.
We justify and even condone sexual immorality. Vengeance and all sorts of violence are accepted as the norm in video games, movies, and real life. We rationalize that gossiping at the ladies bunco game is just "engaging in lively conversation." No one bats an eye at couples living together before the extravagant wedding is planned.
For me, personally, I am challenged by God's plumb line when it comes to complacency and pride. When the pastor calls our congregation to serve in a certain capacity, it's so easy for me to sit back and let someone else answer the call. After all, I've served...blah, blah, blah.
God's plumb line says, "When you see a need, meet it. When something needs to be done, do it."
I can be complacent and become spiritually lazy. God loves me and wants to have a genuine relationship with me, yet I often give Him the leftovers of my time and energy.
Pride? Every time I rely on myself vs. relying and depending upon the Lord, I am guilty of pride. There are no points on God's scorecard for self-sufficiency. When I'm striving, earning, and trying to be good enough on my own, I am promoting my own self-righteousness rather than glorifying God by declaring that I am only made righteous through the blood of Christ.
Grace is a gift, not a prize to be earned.
God, in love, will shake us awake by allowing a test or trial to warn us that the relationship is degenerating.
Amos 7: 7-8 says, "This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, 'What do you see, Amos?' 'A plumb line,' I replied. Then the Lord said, 'Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.'"
God's moral standards are not subject to the opinions of man. Wise people are those who line up their lives according to God's plumb line rather than trying to move it to satisfy their own agenda.
God dearly loves us and gives us redemption and grace. If we rely on His grace without the law, or on His law without the grace, we will not pass the test. God expects that His grace will result in obedience to His law. He will hold a plumb line against us to check our progress. How are you lining up? Are you keeping things plumb?
The Lord is standing on the wall, He says, "Look, this is what you have to be like. You have to be able to stand here next to this plumb line and measure yourself according to exact vertical. This will determine how upright you really are."
Are you up for the plumb line challenge? Are there any ways in you that need forgiveness and/or change? Ask the Lord and know that He will willingly and lovingly answer...pray the prayer with me below...
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you that you are patient and long-suffering. Time and time again, you forgive me of my pride and complacency. You are merciful with my justifying and rationalizing. You, however, are a just God and a time of judgment will come. You lavish your grace upon me with the expectation that I will be obedient to your laws. Help me to not take this lightly. Enable me to live my life in such a way that I am in alignment with your holy and perfect plumb line. May others see in me, a life that is being lived according to exact vertical. I can only do this in Your power, Lord. Forgive me. Empower me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
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