The slide rule is so yesterday…
August 9th, 2019
The mere mention of a slide rule will conjure up thoughts of a geeky young man with a pencil wedged between his ear and scalp, a pocket protector filled with various writing instruments, calculator in one hand and a slide rule in the other.
I’m not going to suggest we go there, but did you realize that God has His own sliding scale which he wants us to use.
No, it’s not an actual scale, but mentally you can envision it when you consider a few truths of the scripture.
Principle #1 – Don’t be a hater
It’s a modern slang for hating people, ideas, or activities. It might be used as ‘Don’t be hatin’, as well. While the world talks about this and focuses the direction on specific individuals that are perceived as being hateful towards concepts, behaviors, and people groups, God spells it out distinctly and expects His disciples to follow this instruction.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”
Matthew 5:43-45 (NLT)
The walk of a Christian has no business being involved in any hate. Well, perhaps I should clarify, we shouldn’t be hating other people. Friend, neighbor, stranger, political opponent, adversary at the office, or road rage conflicted drivers; we don’t have a right to hate anyone for anything.
This is especially difficult when we see people gunned down by a mad man, for no apparent cause. It’s our flesh that wants to hate. The Spirit of Christ Jesus doesn’t. Not even toward that one that would inflict harm on those we love! Perhaps this is the most difficult of hateful stimulus to overcome.
We should hate sin, we should be appalled by injustice, the abuse of the innocent and many other actions should make our skin crawl, but not the people that do them.
Why would Jesus take a position like this?
Because we all are sinners and sin doesn’t come in degrees of disgust, God finds all of it intolerable. But yet, he loves the sinner, and he expects His children to love them as well.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)
We all are no different than the one that commits these acts. You may want to argue that fact, but God says that ‘All fall short of God’s glorious standard’! It isn’t in a graduated scale. We are to love, if we don’t love then we are a hater. If we are a hater, we can’t love God.
The fact that we have been made righteous is totally outside our ability. We didn’t earn the grace that we have been blessed with, if not for his unmitigated grace we all would be condemned prisoners of sin waiting for our final judgment and sentence of eternal death.
We are NO DIFFERENT than those who the enemy would encourage us to hate. That’s right, if we harbor hate for another it’s certainly not God who has placed that impulse in our grasp, its the one who hates God, the one who is our fierce enemy.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
John 3:16-18 (NLT)
What this means is that our baseline for distain has been elevated from hatred to a genuine love for people who hate us, people that treat us poorly, people that do things that we find utterly disgusting; we love those people with the heart of Christ. The heart He replaced our hearts of stone with. The one that beats for Him.
Principle #2 – The sliding scale
This is an observation; you probably can’t find a passage that directly addresses this, but it is my theory that we have a finite limitation to the breadth of our love. We are only capable of just so much range from the maximum to the minimum.
Before we embraced the Love of Jesus and accepted His gift of salvation our maximum quotient of love was for another person who was our life mate, it was for our children and our families. We loved our friends, but we also hated those who treated us wrong and plotted against us.
Admittedly there were varying degrees of that love, and the contempt we had for those who fell on the other side of our benevolence.
Herein, we have a scale ranging from what then was our maximum quotient of love, to the deepest level of our scorn for those who we despised.
In my way of thinking, that scale is fixed, and God has placed on a slide. The transformed life he brings us into slides that scale but doesn’t change the range of degrees; the top and bottom values shift proportionally.
As hate is obliterated from our being, our ability to love God is enhanced more and more.
This concept makes the following statement easier to understand the why behind it.
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.
1 John 4:20-21 (NLT)
Developing this a little further, Jesus tells us that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
Then to top that off, He uses the story of the Good Samaritan. He makes it clear that ‘our neighbor’ is everyone else sharing this planet with us.
This is a substantial commitment Lord!
That baseline where hate existed before now is the minimal level of love, we have for each and every human being we encounter, and even the ones we don’t come in contact with. That is the bottom line.
So, where is the top of this sliding scale?
“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26-27 (NLT)
Here is the top of the scale. As His Disciple you must in comparison, love God so much that our love for those around us, including our friends and family take up the position where hate was found before our transformation.
Now you see the Lord has slid our scale from what we thought was love ranging down to hatred and pushed that love up to such a level that where hate was, love abides. And where love was our fidelity to God exists.
It’s not that we hate our family and friends, but we love God so infinitely more. He is at the top of our scale and everything else falls subject to our love and commitment to Him!
If you want to be His disciple, allow him to make the transformation in your life and position “God’s Sliding Scale” where it needs to be.
In His Grace!