There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the LORD your God.
The word “standard”, or so the foot notes tell me, could literally be rendered “judgment.” It makes me wonder if the word “judgment” refers to a system of judgment or the act of judging. The potential application of this verse and the full scope of its meaning change based on that bit of detail.
There is one standard. Translated this way, the verse tells me that God’s perfection is the only standard against which any other so-called “perfection” can be measured. Every action of mine, every thought, every intent is measured against that single standard of perfection and found wanting. Just like the hand wrote on the wall in Daniel 5:37. But the standard goes beyond that. Ultimately, everyone will be judged by God’s standard of righteousness and perfection. Ultimately, everyone will be judged against Him. And we will all be found wanting, because not a single one of us is even remotely righteous. This whole idea plays into the translation of “judgment” that makes it a system of judgment; a legal code; a Law. There’s only one way to judge a person’s perfection or lack thereof, and that is against God’s perfection. The ancient Egyptians had a god—Osiris, I think—who weighed a man’s soul on one side of the balance and a feather on the other. Those whose souls were lighter than the feather were allowed entry into paradise. Those whose souls were heavier were denied entry. If it were God doing the weighing, He would put His own righteousness on one side and the righteousness of every person, one by one, on the other. We would all be found insufficient.
There is one judgment. The writer of Hebrews tells us that it is appointed unto men to die once and for judgment to follow after that. One judgment. That’s it. For the believer, The Bible teaches that the judgment waiting is of what we did with the resources God gave us: time, abilities, opportunities, and so forth. We will give an accounting of how we invested (or not) those resources (not that God doesn’t already know) and will be rewarded (or not) according to how we used what was placed at our disposal. The Bible teaches that the judgment awaiting the unbeliever is of what they did with the only resource that mattered: Jesus. For the Christian, our choice was to follow Him (with varying degrees of success) and to accept that our righteousness was insufficient to get us into Heaven. So we accept the gift offered and the Father makes Him Who knew no sin (Jesus) to be sin for us so that we can become the righteousness of God in Him. For the unbeliever, they have staked their future in some other idea. They may have decided that their own “good” deeds would be sufficient to get them into Heaven. They may have believed that no “loving God” would ever condemn a soul to Hell for something as (it seems to them) trivial as not trusting in Christ — after all, there are so many religions and all of them claim to be true and and and and. The unbeliever may simply have not believed in any afterlife at all and reasoned that there was no judgment to face. Whatever the idea the unbeliever has trusted, it leads to the standard; the system of judgment brought by the Law.
Recently (yesterday, I think) I wrote that I need to stop applying God’s Laws to those who are not God’s people. That still holds true. I am not the Judge, so it is not mine to apply Law or not. It is mine to obey. God, on the other hand, is the Judge and He has only one Law by which to judge humankind. The escape clause written into His Law is Jesus. Jesus is able, because He is a blood relative (human), to redeem me and every other person who wants to be redeemed. But redemption is voluntary. The book of Ruth puts this on display. The one to be redeemed must ask the Redeemer to redeem. I feel like I should be saying, “Yo, dawg, I heard you like redemption. So I’ll talk about the Redeemer Who redeems all who want to be redeemed.” Anyway. Redemption is voluntary. The escape clause requires an action on my part: I must ask for it. But that’s the end of my involvement in the process. If we read Ruth, we find out that Ruth asked Boaz to redeem and Boaz did the rest. We are all Ruth and Jesus is our Boaz. Something about Ruth compelled Boaz. Maybe it was her poverty or her weakness or the simple fact that she asked him (a guy who, it sounds like, was not the most attractive or youngest of the potentials) to redeem. Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow Him is not attractive and He offers no Earthly fame or glory for doing so. What He offers is redemption and Himself — both of which are far superior to any Earthly fame or glory.
What’s my takeaway? How do I apply this? First, I need to remember that there is one standard: God’s. That’s it. Second, I need to remember that I am not the Judge Who applies that standard. But I can (and probably should) be the guy walking out of the courtroom advising the next case in to “Take the deal.” Third, I need to remember that my involvement in my redemption went as far as asking to be redeemed. After that, Jesus took over and made everything happen. And that knowledge should (and does, as I reflect on it) humble me.