Image by Ariel from Pixabay

Do you have a friend who’s a bit of a screw-up?

No? You’ve got to get one!

Friends who make a shambles of things are amazing, because they make you feel so competent by comparison.

Your friend Sue might misplace one of her children, regularly set off the smoke detector when cooking, or accidentally rear-end a police car.

You roll your eyes smugly and think, “At least I’m not as bad as she is!”

In the same way, we like to justify ourselves before God by comparing our sins to those of others.

We think, “At least I’m not a bank robber or a serial killer. I’m not as bad as others. On the whole, I figure I’m a pretty decent person. I don’t think I really qualify as a ‘sinner.’ ”

The problem with this is that we’re using the wrong yardstick.

Instead of measuring ourselves against other people, we should be seeing whether we pass muster according to God’s standards.

And God sets the bar high: the standard is His perfect moral character.

When you use the correct yardstick, it puts things in the proper perspective. You realize that we’re all violating the standards of a perfectly holy God.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)

The prophet Isaiah got a sense of this when he had a vision of God in His glory. The seraphim were calling out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.”

Isaiah was overwhelmed with the reality of his own sinfulness and that of his people.

“ ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.’ ” (Isaiah 6:5a)

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

Isaiah suddenly realized how far he had fallen short. He hadn’t really noticed it before, because he was surrounded by people who had “unclean lips” as well. In comparing himself to others, he had been using the wrong yardstick.

It was only when he was confronted with true holiness that he understood how thoroughly he’d failed to come up to the required standard. And it shook him to the core.

The good news is that Isaiah received grace and atonement for his sins. He was then given an important mission—to be a prophet for God.

Likewise, we can receive grace and forgiveness as well.

God loves us so much that He himself solved the problem of our sinfulness.

He sent His Son, Jesus, to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins. When we believe in Jesus’ work on the Cross, we exchange our sinful record for His perfect one.

Now, when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son, not our mistakes.

Thanks to Jesus, we can measure up after all!


“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.”

1 John 1:8

© 2022 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “The Wrong Yardstick

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