Every one who makes a purchase recognizes that standards vary across the board. What makes the product cost more than a similar one? There are many possibilities: the brand, or the product’s design, or the purpose it was made for, or how widely it is known, or the quantity being manufactured.
But it also may be the standard of quality to which the product was built. A higher standard will likely have a higher built-in cost due to higher standards in the materials used.
How is the quality of a product judged? By comparing it with a standard.
Recently we had a firsthand experience with this.
It came up in the process of configuring a new PC to be used for our online meetings.
When Brother Steve first got live streaming to work for us, he used what we had available: a small, up-to-date portable Yoga with plenty of RAM and a fairly strong processor. Good for a startup.
But as Covid dragged on and streaming looked more and more like it was here to stay awhile, our interest in better equipment moved higher on our “wish” list.
Brother Steve put together the specs for the new setup, then refined it to get a practical price. Delivery was slow, like many types of products during this pandemic.
The new system was to have 2 monitors. Because the Yoga monitor was so small and delivery was delayed, Brother Steve took opportunity to pick up one of the monitors so we could try it out in advance of the system.
The size of the new monitor was helpful, but the quality was disappointing.
When he returned to the PC store to pick up the system, Brother Steve asked the sales person if we could exchange for a monitor of better quality.
The sales person was negative on the idea. Perhaps because the system had already been delayed? Or was hard to get?
Plus he already had another monitor just like it for us to take. What was wrong with the one we had?
Brother Steve explained that the quality of the image on the monitor was poor. He had taken the Yoga to show the sales person the very inferior quality of the new monitor.
The reply of the sales person was a surprise. He said we were using the wrong standard for comparison! In other words, the Yoga monitor was not relevant—it was “too good.” We were not making a valid comparison!
In other words, forget it! It will serve your purpose, it is good enough. Take it and be happy.
We can forget it—all but the lesson.
God has set a standard for His people, and He means for us to meet it. He set the standard because otherwise we will not be approved! Our standard of “Good enough” doesn’t rate in His program.
If we take our standard for comparison from the world around us, we may look very good. But take it from Christ and we come up short. Look at this passage from Paul, that we cite so often:
Ephesians 4:11–13 11And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Until we all come to what standard?
13till we all come to … a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
God set up the standard for comparison to be Christ: the the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Hebrews tells of Christ’s great achievement:
Hebrews 4:14–15 14Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
It is not that Jesus was not tempted. When we see ourselves tempted, we can think of Christ and say, “He was tempted just as I am. How did He resist?” Here is our answer, that we CAN resist if we take Him for our example, because He kept from sinning. Every time. What an accomplishment! How contrary to nature! What did Christ say about Himself in relation to our task?
Revelation 3:21 21To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
Jesus had to overcome; just so, WE have to overcome to share the Kingdom with Him!
What more is said about Christ’s standard of attainment?
Hebrews 7:26 26For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
Who is this example for?
Hebrews 7:26 26For such a High Priest was fitting for us, …
And what is the standard?
“[He is] holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.”
Right away we see several points about this standard: it is not one that is popular in our world today. He was
1- “holy”, 2- undefiled, and 3- separate from sinners.
What is the basis for holiness? What was the command to Israel if they would be God’s people?
Exodus 19:5–6 5Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
It was in the basic laws of the nation that they should be a holy people, like the God who was delivering them.
Leviticus 20:26 26And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.
What is the basic meaning of “holy”?
Severed/separated/divided (Num. 16:21)
There was even more to the standard, two more terms beyond holiness:
1- “holy”, 2- undefiled, and 3- separate from sinners.
The people were, by being “holy,” were keeping separate, which would help them stay “undefiled.” This shows the bad associations would be defiling. And the third stipulation was to be “separate from sinners.”
Three points basically the same: Separate to belong to God, to be “holy” and “undefiled.”
God set the standard. Did the people follow it for their own good? No. No appeal. Not the right “flavor.” It did not “attract” the people in any sense of the word, God stated His terms—which was and is His right, when He is offering the benefit. But they went their own way, again and again.
What did the standard do for them? It only showed up their UN-holiness, only made them look bad.
What was the purpose of being separate? To make them unhappy? No, it was to prepare them to inherit great blessings.
Leviticus 20:22–24 22‘You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. 23And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. 24But I have said to you, “You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples.
God knew that if they mixed with the people of the land they were inheriting, they would be contaminated, and go after the gods of those nations. The evil was so much more appealing!
The standard we choose is critical. We will not go any higher than the standard we are matching.
What did Paul say about comparing ourselves with one another?
2 Corinthians 10:12 12For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
This is where the example we set for one another is so important to watch. It is just natural to be like what is around us.
How do we check our standard? Again the apostle Paul has advice for us.
2 Corinthians 13:5 5Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
How is Jesus Christ in us? It is Christ the living Word, the truth He converted into real life; Christ as His teaching, His word, His example. Paul describes it again in Col. 1:27,
Colossians 1:27 27To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
He mentioned the comparing again to the Galatians:
Why? Because Christ is our standard.
How do we measure up? It all depends on the standard we compare to. Like the little verse:
Standing beside a mole hill, a man looks very tall.
Standing beside a mountain, he hardly exists at all.
There will be no changing of God’s standard for comparing. WE are the ones who must do the changing, coming to His terms—if we want His eternal blessings.
Galatians 5:26 26Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We are not trying to provoke or envy, or feel “better” or superior to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our comparing must always be with Christ. It is the standard we all must come to.
Where are we in regard to the standard Christ set? That is our concern.
There is one more lesson from the monitor that is “not as good” quality. Like the sales person said, we would get used to it. And we have.
Isn’t that an issue with our standard as well? If we get accustomed to a lower level, a compromise, something we “accept” as “good enough,” we will stop trying to improve. The lesser way—in our speech, in our manners, in our appearance, whatever part of our life—will satisfy us.
But we must remember that God’s standard does not change. The lower level way satisfies us.
Here we must remember God will judge by HIS standard, not ours.
Let’s be sure we keep our standard at the level of the WORD. That is why Paul said,
Philippians 3:14“I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
That “mark” is the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. No being satisfied with less!
The Hebrew word we examined is found in Num. 16:21 translated “separate.” בָּדַל (bā∙ḏǎl): (nif) separate oneself,…”
But the idea does not end there. We separate from a sinful people to be with the God-fearing. The same Hebrew word, bā∙ḏǎl is also found in 1 Chron. 12:8 which is a good example to show just what is meant by “separate.” “Some Gadites joined David at the stronghold in the wilderness, mighty men of valor, men trained for battle….” Do you see the word defined “separate”? The word meaning to separate is translated “joined.” But isn’t “joined” the opposite of “separate”? This is a good example of translation. The literal meaning in the context of this passage is literally, “separated themselves to…” David. In other words they “defected” from the Gadites and joined David.
The Lord does not intend for us to separate without becoming a part of another family, in this case a big family––sons and daughters of God!
Example: “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.’ ” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). What a promise! and from the highest authority!