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Measure Twice, Cut Once

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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The man answered, “ ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”

Luke 10:27

My grandfather was an expert woodworker. A civil engineer by trade, for fun he made fine furniture as well as a host of home improvements. During my boyhood, I spent thousands of hours watching my grandfather work. Through observation and ultimately through participation under his watchful eye, I learned to be pretty good with tools.

Part of being “pretty good” in woodworking is careful measuring. In this regard, my grandfather taught me a useful rule of thumb: “Measure twice, cut once.” You might wonder about the need to measure twice. Wouldn’t one measurement do the job? No, it wouldn’t, because it’s terribly easy to misread a measuring tape. I cannot tell you how many times, employing my grandfather’s rule, I have discovered that my first measurement was inaccurate. I have saved literally hundreds of dollars because I have been saved from making errant saw cuts that would have required me to purchase more material. So, if you find yourself making something out of wood (or metal or plastic), remember my grandfather’s dictum: “Measure twice, cut once.”

When it comes to living, Luke 10:27 offers the best rule of thumb. It’s one that is found on the lips of Jesus in Matthew and Mark (Matt. 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-31). Surely, Jesus offered this summary of the law many times and in many different forms during his ministry. It may even be that the “expert in religious law” in Luke 10 had heard Jesus and mirrored back what Jesus had said. Be that as it may, whether on the lips of Jesus or a legal expert, the fact remains that the Gospels provide us with a “measure twice, cut once” guide for optimum living: ' "You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.” And ‘Love your neighbor as yourself' " (10:27).

This guide, which comes from two passages of the Old Testament (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), puts in a nutshell everything we have to know for living a rich, full life that pleases the Lord. Of course, Jesus does not go into detail in this passage about exactly what it means for one to love God and neighbor. From other passages of Scripture, we learn that such love requires turning our lives around in response to the good news of God’s kingdom. Moreover, we will not be able to love God and others unless we are made new through God’s love in Christ. But, for those of us who have entered into relationship with God through the Gospel, the rule of thumb that focuses on loving God and loving others serves as a reliable guide for how to live.

In tomorrow’s reflection, I want to consider further what it would mean to love God and others in daily life. For now, you might reflect further by using the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What rules of thumb do you use in life? Where did you learn them? When you are faced with a situation that requires thoughtful action, do you ever remember the “Love God, love others” rule of thumb? How might your daily life be different if you were to live by this rule?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, there is much about you and your Word that is complex and challenging. Surely that’s appropriate, given who you are. But there are times when you make it very clear and simple. This is one of those times. Thank you for giving us such a basic, trustworthy guide for living. I should love you and I should love others. It’s really that simple.

Simple to say, that is. Actually doing this is another story. Sometimes I don’t know how to love you or how to love others. And, sometimes, I know what love requires, but I don’t want to do it.

So I ask for your help, Lord. Help me to remember to live each day as an expression of love for you and for others. When I am unsure of how to act, may I return to this basic rule of thumb for guidance. And then, dear Lord, help me to act in love, even when it is scary, even when it requires sacrifice, even when it is contrary to my inclination. Amen.


P.S. from Mark

If you’re looking for a place to help you know God more deeply and truly, may I suggest Laity Lodge? This retreat center in the Texas Hill Country offers extraordinary beauty and renewing rest. All retreats at Laity Lodge are small, offering a context for deep learning and honest conversation. Through excellent teaching and world-class music, through stimulating art and delicious food, through a relaxed schedule with plenty of time for recreation and relaxation, Laity Lodge offers a unique opportunity for restoration and renewal.

We still have room in many of our summer retreats, which feature some of the finest speakers, musicians, and artists in the world. For more information or to register, check our website. I hope to see you this summer at Laity Lodge.

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