Deficient (Daniel 5:27)

‘TEKEL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.

Daniel 5:27

Out of all that the book of Daniel says, this verse preoccupies me most. I often find myself thinking on this verse in idle moments. It is, perhaps, because this verse applies to everyone, at one time or another, that it occupies my thoughts so.

There are different scales in which we are measured. Public figures are often said to be tried in the court of public opinion, which is a set of scales. Almost every public figure — no matter how amazing — is found lacking in those scales. Closer to home, our friends and family and significant others have their own scales in which we are weighed. It may not be intentional; it may even be relatively magnanimous, but we are tried and almost invariably found lacking. We even have our own scales. While ours are likely to be dishonest scales — weighed in our favor — we will still find ourselves lacking.

Regardless of these scales and more important by far are the scales of Heaven. God has set forth His standards and those are the litmus for whether we meet expectations or fall short of them. The ancient Egyptians believed that a person faced the god of the dead and their heart was weighed against a feather. If the heart was heavier than the feather, then punishment followed. If the heart was lighter than the feather, then reward followed. I am not certain what happened if the heart weighed the same as the feather, but the idea was quite clear: The standard against which we are measured is too difficult; too lofty for us to aspire to it.

And that is what the message recorded in Daniel points out. We none of us are able to meet the standard. We are weighed and measured and found wanting. We are not good enough or holy enough or honest enough or faithful enough. In short, we are not perfect. And perfection is the standard against which we are weighed.

That is the bad news.

The good news is that God offers to weigh Someone else in our stead: Himself. God offers to let Jesus Christ stand on the scales in our place and be weighed in our stead. And Jesus is perfect. He meets every standard and fulfills every requirement of Heaven. I am deficient. He is sufficient. I am not enough. He is precisely enough.

We are, all of us, deficient against the scales of Heaven. Our hearts are too heavy; our souls too burdened by our transgression. Christ, however, is sufficient and is able to be weighed in our place to satisfy the scales of Heaven. Do I choose to remain deficient or allow Christ to be my sufficiency? The choice is mine.


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